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.