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

4.55  ·  Rating details ·  7,567 ratings  ·  949 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 794 pages
Published December 1st 2004 by Deseret Book Company (first published January 1st 1999)
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Community Reviews

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4.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,567 ratings  ·  949 reviews

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Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Mar 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Oct 21, 2008 rated it liked it
"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 ...more
Aug 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Emma Barker
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely LOVED this book!!
Chelsea McGee
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book! Strengthened my testimony of the power of God's work even more. Will read it again and again.
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Loved the story so much more than The Undaunted. We got right into it and met real people along with the fictional characters.

Fyi the narrator is not my favorite. Reading this would be preferable to listening. The accents were terrible all around. If he had just done an American I would have loved it but his various European accents weren't even close.
Sep 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
I've been hearing a lot about the handcart pioneers lately, emigrants who came from Europe to join the Latter-day Saints in Zion, but who were too poor to afford the fees used in outfitting a wagon. So the LDS church organized handcart companies who would travel with a wagon and cross the plains on foot. Most pioneers had to travel on foot anyway, as it was too hot and too uncomfortable to ride in the wagon. But these Saints had to carry all their stuff in handcars which they themselves would pu ...more
Brynn Albrecht
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fire of the Covenant is a book about the Martin and Willie handcart companies. Written as if they had walked together at the same time towards Zion, it shares details of the average “new converts” life. In some instances, the choice to leave a fiance, best friend, or even family members behind had to be made. Once decided, those who went made the tough journey. It often involved many weeks on a boat and months spent shivering. Sacrifices were, at times, extreme. The ultimate testing of faith hap ...more
Sep 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
I haven't found much LDS fiction that I enjoyed, but this book was an absolute delight. As historical fiction, it used a lot of real people and settings. Guess what? I found several references to my great-great-grandfather Redick Newton Allred in this book! His nickname was "the bulldog" because he was tenacious about doing what the prophet asked him to do. He headed up the supply wagons that went out to rescue the two handcart companies in desperate situations. Since his provision wagons were l ...more
Nicole Edwards
May 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
The actual events and historical accounts were very interesting. I would rather have read a compilation of journals and factual information on the subject, akin to something Laura Hillenbrand would have written. Instead Lund created fictional characters and wove them into the story. While interesting, it was so cheesy that it was hard to take seriously. My favorite bad line of the book: "Dan Jones, cook for the company, provided excellent meals every day, but guilt was the sauce that flavored th ...more
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One good thing about being sick is it gave me a chance to finally finish this book! It was a long one!! (757 pages) It took a while for me to get into it.... There are several characters, fiction and non-fiction (since it is historical fiction). And, I didn't realize how long it took just for the emigrants to reach the starting point of the handcart part of their journey (let alone finish it!)
For me, the more poignant a story-- the more I come to care about the characters, and watch them overcom
Feb 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable story! I must admit, I, myself, went through the accusations and questions of where was God in all this and why did these captains leave so late in the year, but Lund does a fantastic job helping the reader understand they had no choice in the matter and that God was with them all along the way. It deepens my respect and admiration for our early pioneers who sacrificed literally EVERYTHING for religious freedom and obedience to God's commands.

I liked this book better than Lu
Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
It took me a little while to get into this book most likely because the size of the book deterred me just a bit; however, I ended up enjoying this book so much! Written about the Martin and Willie Handcart companies; the early pioneers (1856) and their struggles coming across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. It gave me much appreciation for not only what I have been blessed with in my life but also for the sacrifices that these people made to come to Zion. I originally began reading the book ...more
Jun 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was absolutely wonderful. Fictional families take you along the journey with them as they trek west from different parts of Europe. There are good times and bad times. There is laughter and sadness, romance and friendships. This book was amazing. I couldn't hardly put it down. Much of the descriptions of the times and trials come from real journal entries. The detail used enlightened me so much as to how this journey must have been. I love this book and would recommend it to everyone. ...more
Jamie Hansen
Jul 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
After a second reading I stand behind my five star rating. It is a powerful book filled with many remarkable stories and people. Lund has a wonderful talent for this genre; weaving fictional characters in with historic people and events in an engaging and believable manner. This will probably continue to be a book I return to on occasion to remember and be inspired by a group of people who had tremendous faith and displayed such unfailing courage, perseverance, patience and long-suffering. I lov ...more
Jul 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It took me a long time to get through the 750+ pages because I was reading other books at the same time, but this story still had my attention and was one that caused a lot of reflection. Reading about their faith during such extreme challenges, their continual pressing forward when many would have given up, the service rendered by those who were also in need, and the miracles that occurred was not only heartbreaking, but also uplifting and encouraging. I found myself weeping over the pages, tea ...more
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I read this book so long ago, but still remember how much I loved it. After watching the movie "17 Miracles" I got it out to read again. I also told all my kids they should read it too. Even though there is much tragedy that befalls these handcart companies, this book perfectly describes all of the many miracles that occurred. You truly can see how the Lord was mindful of them in their journey and how much more sadness would have happened if not for the Lord. My testimony grew and I was deeply t ...more
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Gerald Lund isn't a masterful writer but his excellent and extensive knowledge of Church history paired with his basically good writing makes this series an enjoyable read. The greatest value in these books are how they allow you to experience the Martin & Willey handcart treks through the eyewitness account of a fictional family. Obviously some artistic license is taken when historical characters interact with fictional characters, but I think Mr. Lund did a great job of staying true to cha ...more
May 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Incredible journey! The faith and perseverance of the pioneers is so incredible to me! I cried a lot while reading this book - despite it being fictional - there was a lot of TRUE stories included and I can't imagine going through what they did. This book is truly awesome. I loved it! I'm inspired by all the sacrifice and suffering and enduring faith of these stalwart people. I am so happy to know I come from faithful pioneer heritage.
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I originally read this book about seven years ago. Since I recently purchased it to add to my library, I decided to read it again. I was not disappointed! This book is about the Martin and Willie handcart companies. It has the ability to evoke several different emotions in the span of just a few pages. This book is worth reading over and over to help remind us what these people went through for religious freedom.
An amazing book. Follow fictional characters from various countries as they join the Martin & Willey Handcart Companies in their trek across the plains to Salt Lake City with the Mormon pioneers. You get a closer look at how these people survived the ordeal of being stuck in the snow in Wyoming after an early winter sets in. The survivors of these companies are honored for their Faith in God that made them keep going to be with the saints in Salt Lake City.
Jun 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Just as good the second time through!!! I picked it up again because I felt the need for an inspirational read. It gave me exactly what I was hoping for. I couldn't put it down and found myself in awe at the commitment and sacrifice the early saints offered. I laughed and cried (many times)as I thought of my own ancesters crossing the plains and the determination they had to follow the counsel they were given. This is one of my all-time favorite books.
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Unbelievable! Lund is a master writer, so much history and emotion comes through in his words. At times I struggled to fight off tears and at other times I caught myself grinning and holding back chuckles. Amazingly well written and an emotional rollercoaster. I highly recommend this book to any and everybody.
Mar 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It was great preparation for attending Trek with the youth at Martin's Cove last summer. I really appreciated the addendum at the back of every chapter that describes everything that was historically correct and anything that was the author's addition to make the story interesting.
Feb 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this book when it first came out. I always knew the Willie and Martin Handcart companies had a tough time coming across the plains, but this book made me feel like I was there! I have a great-aunt that was part of the trek and hearing her story told in this book was heart wrenching to feel what those people went through.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is the only book to dehydrate me. I cried so much throughout reading it that I had to take a few days off to recuperate before finishing.
Apr 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religious
Excellent! Touching and inspiring.
Aug 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book ever! (tayli- it is even better than twilight so you should read it)
Mar 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Oh- this book is a rip-your-heart out. I think it was really hard to read all of the terrible things this group of people had to face. Read with a box of tissues.
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Fire of the covenant 1 35 Nov 01, 2008 10:41AM  
  • When We Meet Again (Children of the Promise, #4)
  • Prelude to Glory, Vol. 5: A Cold, Bleak Hill
  • Faith of Our Fathers: To Make Men Free (Volume Two)
  • Gadiantons and the Silver Sword (Tennis Shoes, #2)
  • Pillar of Fire (The Promised Land, #1)
Gerald N. Lund received his B.A. and M.S. degrees in sociology from Brigham Young University. He served for thirty-five years in the Church Educational System, and he served as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy from 2002 to 2008. He is a prolific and bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction and is best known for his historical novels, including The Work and the Glory series, Fi ...more
“There is a spirit out there that lifts the heart and renews one’s determination to be better, to try harder, to strive to be more faithful. That is the legacy those wonderful Saints have handed to us.” 0 likes
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