Monday, March 2, 2009


Raquel has a secret. As the daughter of one of King Noah’s priests, she enjoys a luxurious life and the admiration of powerful men. But her heart belongs to a commoner, a man with no earthly wealth but rich heavenly gifts. When King Noah demands that Raquel join his harem, she flees the only life she has known and marries her secret love. His name is Abinadi.

The couple finds abundant joy in their community of believers and in their firstborn son. But when the Lord calls Abinadi as His prophet, their faith is tested to the outermost limits. Abinadi’s commitment to the Lord requires them both to give their all—even unto death. Yet if Alma, the newest priest in King Noah’s court, chooses to overcome his troubled past and cleave unto the truth, their sacrifice may yield rich fruit.

With vivid detail and poignant emotion, this historical novel pulls readers into a fiery tale of love, courage, and faith that is difficult to put down and impossible to forget.

We read this book for our Provident Ladies Book Club February selection. I have not read H.B. Moore's Out of Jerusalem series, so I had no idea what kind of author she was. I will admit that I was worried about the premise of Abinadi being a young man instead of the older prophet that we usually picture him as. In fact, while chatting a friend stated,

I have to say that all the reviews say the same thing, that it was a good move to make Abinadi a younger character. But that's all they say. Which leads me to believe one of a few things. It is a short novel and doesn't require too much complexity. It is a romance (again) and the main character has to be young in order to, well, do stupid things that guys do in romances, even if he is a prophet. Or, they all copied the other guy's review.

To that friend I would say, Yes it is short, 248 pages, but it made me think about the people involved in the story. The real people. The ones we read about in the scriptures. Parts that I usually just skip over. Like Alma the elder. I honestly never really thought about what kind of man he was while he was a priest in King Noah's court. In my mind he was just kind of there, hanging out until Abinadi's part was over and it was time to read about Alma's conversion. Heather made Alma come alive for me. I enjoyed watching his descent into sloth and degregation just so I could feel the rapture in his change.

And King Noah. Wicked does not begin to cover it. Again, I had never put much thought into what exactly was covered by that word "wicked". Oh, he is truly a wicked man. But not as wicked as Amulon, whom I usually just sort of skip over thinking about when reading the Book of Mormon. You want a wicked man? Amulon is your guy. I will be paying a lot more attention to him when I reach those chapters in a couple weeks.

As for making Abinadi younger? I think it was a good move. Heather tell us in the Preface of the book and she told us again at the book club meeting that she did research and could find no indications of how old Abinadi was. According to Robert J. Matthews in an April 1992 Ensign article, "We know nothing of Abinadi's early life. We find nothing in the record to indicate whether he was old or young, large or small. What we do find... is a man of courage with an agile mind, a profound knowledge of the gospel, and a strong personality."

In the preface, Heather also tells us that she made him young so that his death would be one of a man that had a lot left to live for. A wife, a child, a home, a dream. Not the death of a man that had lived a good life full of happiness and contentment, but the death of a man just beginning to find those things. A death of a man that could have chosen to go home to his wife and child, but instead choose to follow the call of God.

As for Abinadi being young so that he could do the stupid things that guys do in romances? Not really. Yes, his being young helped that there could be a romance, but it is not stupid and sappy. And I never felt the urge to throw the book across the room or gouge my eyes out during the romance scenes. It is too bad that not all husbands and wives love each other as much as Abinadi and Raquel in the short time they had together.


Heather B. Moore said...

Sandra, I think this it the most thorough review that I've ever seen! I'm going to post the link on my blog. It was great to get to know you the other night. When I think I know all the great people in the world I meet someone like you!

Heather B. Moore said...

Oh, yeah, I was going to answer about the "shortness" of the book. I actually had to talk my publisher into keeping the length since--they wanted me to cut pages. So they just shrunk the typeset. I've never had a book with such small typeset. I was worried about some of my fans that maybe didn't have the best eyesight.

Since I don't fall into the "exception to the rule" category with my publisher, all of my manuscripts have to be under 400 pages in manuscript form (including chapter notes, etc), which is about 320 pages in book form.

Josi said...

Abinidi is a great book, I'm so glad you liked it. I find Heather amazing in the way she can bring BOM characters alive-really put the meat on the bones, so to speak. I didn't notice the small type or the short book--the length seemed perfect as to the story it was telling. I'm looking forward to the next one--it's such an action packed part of the BOM that I'm excited to see what she does with it.

Annette Lyon said...

Great review. Your friend missed one important point--making Abinadi young made the sacrifice he made more poignant. Killing an old man who's lived a good life is sad, sure, but killing a young father and husband with his whole life in front of him--that's a whole other ball of wax.

Anonymous said...

Sheesh. Last time I read Exodus there wasn't anything about honoring the young man because he has so much of life ahead of him. The fifth commandment is all about honoring the old, wise, experienced ones so their days will be even longer on the land and they can bless society with their wisdom.

Carpe Diem is a Pagan belief. Its also a romance novel emotional plot line that is overused. The pagans believed in the idea of Seize the day. Why? Because when you die, there is no more. They reject out of hand the plan of eternal happiness. Get it all while you're on earth for tomorrow you die. Now that's a heady Book of Mormon teaching.

The anti-pagan view is that life on earth is a short probation, a way station in the cosmos of eternal progression. Glorifying the whole idea about the saddness of early death as opposed to "who cares about our old man" reveals far too much adoration for earthly things, and too much lack of faith in the plan of happiness.

Sorry. But it would be sadder for me to see an old Abinadi killed because of the loss of the wealth of experience, the loss of a richness of maturity, and the loss of a view of life you can only share with the rising generation after having lived a good long time.

Killing off a young Abinadi is just a notion for a romantic novel. It's also a shallow view of life and eternal life.

Sandra said...

Oh, did I forget to mention that Abinadi looks heavily to Gideon, the older and wiser leader, to help him. That Raquel gives up all the earthly comforts of life that one can ask for to learn from Tia and Esther, the matriarchs of their settlement? Or that it is not just the loss of a young husband and father, but also that loss of experience, maturity and sharing with a rising generation that makes Abinadi's death so poignant in Moore's novel.

I did not find his being young in this novel hindered the view of eternity at all. Instead it raised questions of "what if" for me to ponder. What if he was a young prophet? You cannot dispute the fact that prophets do sometimes come in the form of young men and sometimes even die as young men. Remind me again how old the prophet Joseph Smith was when he died? 38? Would you tell me that his death would have been better served if he had lived longer? Would it have been any more tragic, just because he had grandchildren and not young children? I don't think so.

So it is in Moore's Abinadi. She is not ignoring the fact that there is more to life than the here and now, nor is she glorifying in the idea of early death as opposed to the older generation. She did make him young, and it is sad that he leaves a young wife and child behind. Moore's point is that he did it because he loved the Lord more than the things of the flesh. He choose God over mammon.

Isn't that the point whether you are young or old? To make the choice to follow God no matter what you have to leave behind- whether the stakes are small or large? If the Lord calls you, you either follow or you don't. Whether you are 25 or 95. In the end does the age on the tombstone matter?