Fire of the Covenant
"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”
—Francis Webster, Martin Handcart Company, 1856
You’ve heard about the handcart pioneers, but have you ever walked in their footsteps? Join master storyteller Gerald Lund and pioneers from across Europe as they leave their homes and begin the most harrowing journey in the history of western migration. Now 980 saints are trying the handcart experiment and have narrowed their possessions to just 17 pounds, including their clothing and bedding. And these city-folk are undeterred at the goal of walking 1,300 miles in 100 days, knowing that they may face buffalo stampedes, ravenous wolves, howling storms, blistered feet, and icy creeks. But even these brave saints cannot imagine the outpouring of prayer, healings, angels, and miracles that will shower down upon them.
“And do you know, even as you hunch over in pain as the coughing tears at your insides, do you have even the slightest doubt about whether God lives, about whether His Son came to earth and lived and died so that we might live again?”
Maggie straightened slowly, looking her mother directly in the eye. “No,” she said. “No, I have not the slightest doubt.”
“Then why do you say that the fire of the covenant has gone out in you? Don’t you see, Maggie? It is that fire that drives us. It is our faith in the Savior that sustains us. That is what gives us the strength to go on, even now as we start this terrible day.”
Come along on an unforgettable trek that will have you smiling, laughing, pondering, and weeping along-side these faithful, stalwart pioneers. Come and feel the Fire of the Covenant burn in your heart too.
To learn what happens to Jens Nielson and others, read about what happens after they reach the Salt Lake Valley in, "The Undaunted."
By Stacey, Submitted on 2015-02-25
I have a very short list of books I would read again and this on is on that list. I loved that true stories were mixed in with his fictional characters. The author notes at the end are so great because you can then go and read what was true and what was fiction. Even if you think you know everything there is to know about the Handcart companies, this book is sure to teach you something new and touch your heart.
By Devey, Submitted on 2015-02-25
With family history research big on our plate right now, this book inspired me to keep going. It is a wonderful read, I did not want to put it down.
By Sara, Submitted on 2015-02-25
I read this in preparation for a being a Ma in a Pioneer Youth Trek and it was the best! I felt like I came to know the pioneers better. As we trekked for youth conference, experiences from the book came to mind for me to share with the youth. At one point on the cattle ranch where we trekked a herd of cattle ran across our path and I was able to tell the youth of the buffalo stampede that occurred to one of the handcart companies. Deep gratitude and love for those who went before was what I felt after reading this book.
By Jennifer, Submitted on 2015-02-25
My kids got this book for me for my birthday! I was a little skeptical because I don't usually read historical fiction. I decided I would give it a try though since I noticed that there was actual journal entries from members of the handcart companies where Lund drew his inspiration from at the end of each chapter. I am so glad that I decided to take the plunge... what a wonderful book! I too, couldn't put it down and learned such a tremendous amount about the trek across the plains...the rescue.. and the never-ending faith, hope and courage that existed among the early saints.
By Roberta, Submitted on 2015-02-25
I have no pioneer heritage like this, but after hearing & reading so many stories, I decided to read this before going on a trek in Wyoming with our stake youth. I found the book a fascinating read, the stories are amazing, and when on the trail, though it was summer, I tried to visualize the struggles they endured. The book helped me understand what they did & the hard conditions they endured. Being in many of the same places was amazing, & I appreciate those who endured, so much more, for the sacrifices made then.
By Grant, Submitted on 2015-02-25
A wonderful way to join the handcart pioneers in their cahllenging journeys across the plains. The only disappointment was not getting to catch up with old friends the Steed family once the handcarts reached Salt Lake Valley.
By Sharyn, Submitted on 2015-02-25
Everyone should read this book. I know this story isn't new to anyone; but Brother Lund tells it so that you can feel that you are actually there going through each and every trial that those saints faced.
I read the book in two days, because I couldn't put it down. I must agree with what he says at the beginning that the amazing part of this whole trek wasn't the vast amount of people who died along the trail; the amazing part was- how did ANYONE actually survive that and make it at all?
Could I have had that much faith and kept going? I'm not sure.
By Kerrie, Submitted on 2015-02-25
What an amazing book to make you think twice about what our ancestors endured to follow the call of a prophet of God. Gerald Lund's artful style of writing places you back at the time of the pioneers, not only acquainting you with the wonders of Church history, but engaging your emotions to the characters in the story as well. You will need a box of tissue with this one!
By Amber, Submitted on 2015-02-25
This book is so magnificent. I couldn't put it down after the 1st page. I gained a much deeper appreciation for the pioneers and a testimony of the gospel, which they were willing to risk so much to live by.
By Cynthia, Submitted on 2015-02-25
This is probably my favorite book! I loved it and would highly recommend it to everyone.
By Anja, Submitted on 2015-02-25
This book lets you live side by side with the early pioneers -- they come alive! It has changed the way I view the early members of our Church forever. The language is varied yet simple enough to let the events and the people play the lead. You won't regret reading this.
By Becky, Submitted on 2015-02-25
Before I read this book I thought those who were in these two companies where stupid to leave on their trek so late in the season. Learning of their faith and experiences in this fiction story really changed my mind. I loved it.
By Ashley, Submitted on 2015-02-25
This is yet another GREAT book by Gerald Lund. I enjoyed this book very much it made me cry and laugh. I'm also very thankful for all that they did to come to Utah. If you would like to read yet another GREAT book by Gerald Lund and learn some of the pioneers history, you should read this book.
By Wendell, Submitted on 2015-02-25
I especially liked the insight into 1) the historical reasons for organizing the handcart companies, and 2) the various parts of the plan that had to come together for a handcart company to be successful. , Until I read the book, I didn't realize that members of the company came from industrial centers and had to be physically conditioned for the trip and had to learn to frontier skills, I didn't understand how Brigham Young knew the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies were in trouble before the winter storms hit, I didn't know about the various segments of the trip and the reason for each. I learned what the handcart companies did to compensate for the fact that they couldn't load and carry enough food for the entire trip, let alone household goods needed after they arrived in Salt Lake City. , I relate to the handcart company characters portrayed by the author who were common people with a conviction of the truth, albeit not an unwavering faith, and were committed to obeying the call to come to Zion. They made their choices as best they could and accepted responsibility for their choices. There is much to be learned from their example. , Most of all, I admire the concern the handcart people had for others in their group when their own lives were at risk. It is a stark contrast to what happened in the Donner party and the Freemont party when they were caught by early winter storms in the western mountains. The title of the book, Fire of the Covenant, summarizes what the story is all about.
By Camilla, Submitted on 2015-02-25
This is the second book I have read by Lund, and it has drawn me in. I like to feel conected to characters and this book made that easy! I appreciated the notes at the end of each chapter that clarified the facts. I have never before learned so much from reading a novel. 'Fire of the Covenant' is a muct read!
By Cheryl, Submitted on 2015-02-25
What an inspiration this book is. I have listened to this book on tape each morning as I get ready for work. It puts an impact on our lives as we realized the hardships as well as the joys that the Willy & Martin handcart companies have endured. The story line is wonderful. The family experience that the main characters experience keep you entrigued and want to go on. My Dad read the book and challenged me to read it. I chose to hear it on tape and it really comes alive!