Fire of the Covenant: The Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies

Fire of the Covenant: The Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies

In the summer of 1856, three companies of handcarts were outfitted and sent west from Iowa to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. All went well, and they arrived without undue incident. But two additional companies - one captained by James G. Willie, and the other by Edward Martin - left England late in the season. When they arrived at Iowa City, they were long past the tim...

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Title:Fire of the Covenant: The Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies
Author:Gerald N. Lund
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Edition Language:English

Fire of the Covenant: The Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies Reviews

  • Chelsea McGee

    Loved this book! Strengthened my testimony of the power of God's work even more. Will read it again and again.

  • Janette

    I reluctantly read this book before going on the 2007 pioneer trek to Martin's Cove. I was really worried that it would be extremely sad, and I didn't want to hear a lot of details about the suffering and death that I knew occurred. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the author was able to tell this story accurately, (using actual people and events, as well as fictional characters)… yet inspiringly. I’ll admit, It took about half of the book for me to really get into the story, but once I

    I reluctantly read this book before going on the 2007 pioneer trek to Martin's Cove. I was really worried that it would be extremely sad, and I didn't want to hear a lot of details about the suffering and death that I knew occurred. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the author was able to tell this story accurately, (using actual people and events, as well as fictional characters)… yet inspiringly. I’ll admit, It took about half of the book for me to really get into the story, but once I did, I could not put it down. The courage, faith and endurance of these pioneers are amazing to me, and their story is unforgettable.

  • Serena

    I'm really enjoying this book and trying brace myself for a good cry. I know how this story ends. It has been so good to hear the details of the preparation of these saints and to better understand their story.

  • Mommywest

    When Justin and I and our little family lived in Student Family Housing at BYU at the "turn of the century" :), we would often spend Sunday afternoons (and sometimes evenings) or vacation days reading LDS Church-themed/related books together. We took turns reading to each other, but usually I ended up reading the most. We read the entire Work and the Glory series and Children of the Promise series that way. After we finished those, we read this book together. By the time we started this book, Ju

    When Justin and I and our little family lived in Student Family Housing at BYU at the "turn of the century" :), we would often spend Sunday afternoons (and sometimes evenings) or vacation days reading LDS Church-themed/related books together. We took turns reading to each other, but usually I ended up reading the most. We read the entire Work and the Glory series and Children of the Promise series that way. After we finished those, we read this book together. By the time we started this book, Justin was in grad school and working full time in Salt Lake City, and our oldest daughter was getting old enough that we could only read in bits and snatches at night. It took us longer to get through it, and we were often both exhausted. I remember liking the book, but we read so infrequently that it didn't endear itself to us like other books we had read.

    I wanted to read this book again, partly because I'd just read Brother Lund's most recent book,

    , and it got me in the mood for more pioneer-type historical fiction. I also wanted to read it in more than just bits and snatches so I could get a good feel for it.

    Readers of Gerald Lund's books know that he is an impeccable researcher. You will learn so much about the time periods and events he is writing about, not only through the story, but through the extra notes and experiences he includes at the end of each chapter/end of the book. His descriptions really give the reader a feel for the characters and the places they live in or go to: what they look like, what kind of person they are, the environment they are in, the kind of day a certain experience occurred on. You feel a part of the book. However, many readers will also know that he tends to use the same kinds of phrases over and over to describe emotions and occurences (like "husky voice" to describe someone speaking with emotion, and so on). He also tends to have people who are separated for some time come back together in a "surprise unveiling," where the long-gone person is brought in by another character to the surprise and joy of the other characters, and the way he includes fictional characters in real historical happenings is a bit awkward sometimes. But if you can look past those quirks, you will enjoy his books very much.

    I found myself shedding tears many times as I felt the sufferings of the handcart companies, the angst and sacrifices of their eventual rescuers, and the strong faith exhibited by many people in the story. I also cheered for triumphs and accomplishments, and grieved for beloved characters who died. I am a "likener," I guess, and I took away so many things that could be applied in my life. Overall, this book is an excellent way to get to know the story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies, and it is also just a great story by itself.

  • Tanja

    "Come, come, ye saints" This song has been going through my head for the last week. I started this book forever ago (about 5 months). I will be honest and say it took me about 100 pages to get into the story. Then I was hooked. And all I have done for the last week is read this 760 page book. I know a bit about the martin and willie handcart companies. I have ancestors that were apart of both companies and survived. I have read their journals and been to martin's cove. This only added to my expe

    "Come, come, ye saints" This song has been going through my head for the last week. I started this book forever ago (about 5 months). I will be honest and say it took me about 100 pages to get into the story. Then I was hooked. And all I have done for the last week is read this 760 page book. I know a bit about the martin and willie handcart companies. I have ancestors that were apart of both companies and survived. I have read their journals and been to martin's cove. This only added to my experience with the book. This is a story about the pioneers who pulled handcarts. They came late in the season and had terrible weather, no food, and many obstacles to overcome. If you don't know much about these pioneers than I suggest you find out. Lund does a good job showing many of the ways pioneers suffered and how they had joy along the trail. If you go back and study the history it was actually a lot harder than it was portrayed in the book. I have always felt more desperation when reading my families account of the experience, but most of the journals come from the Martin company and most of the book focuses on the Willie company.

    The best part of the book, in my opinion, is the chapter notes. You get little portions of the pioneers journals. I was astounded, as I always am, at the strength these people had. Could I have made it? No! Is it easy to look at the situation and criticize the fact that they came? Yes. But we would be wrong. One of my favorite quotes from a member of the martin handcart company- it is a response to criticism about the companies-

    Francis Webster:

    "I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife....

    I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up for I cannot pull the load through it. I have gone to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me! I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the Angels of God were there.

    Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No! Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay."

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