Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Undaunted

When it comes to creating spellbinding historical fiction, nobody does it quite like Gerald N. Lund. In The Undaunted, he transports readers first to the coal mines of Yorkshire, then across the ocean and the plains to the territory of Utah, where, even in 1879, there is pioneering to be done. A little- known and perhaps even less- appreciated chapter in the Church's history comes to life in this gripping story of a stalwart group of Saints called to create a settlement to serve as a buffer between the established communities of Utah and the lawless frontier of the Four Corners area. Their challenge will be enormous— but the biggest part of it just may be getting there in the first place. Skillfully interweaving historical figures and events with fictional characters, Gerald Lund takes us through the Hole in the Rock and over miles of uncharted country that even today is impassable without all- terrain vehicles. His account of the adventure, romance, and sacrifices of these undaunted pioneers will resonate with readers who love a good story as well as those who want to better understand the incomparable legacy and unconquerable faith of those valiant Saints.

I haven't read a Gerald Lund book in such a long time and I really enjoyed coming back to this genre. The Undaunted is a fantastic read. Gerald Lund is so good at making me feel like I was right there along with the pioneers experiencing history. I think this is an overlooked story that most people have never payed much attention to, but it is certainly well-worth knowing. My favorite part of this book was all the footnotes at the end of each chapter, showing actual journal entries and other documents that lent an even stronger air of authenticity and history to this book. This really happened and I feel like I was able to develop faith, right along with those pioneers. I've always loved southern Utah; the country is gorgeous and almost alien at times. I can hardly believe that these faithful saints were able to make a wagon trail across it.

The fictional story was great and along with the story of those hole-in-the-rock pioneers, we get a tale about coal mining in England, immigration to Utah, the colonization of different areas of Utah, and even some of the tensions between pioneers and Native Americans. It was all completely engrossing and fascinating. One of my favorite scenes was when a few characters climb Angel's Landing in Zion's National Park (before it was Zion's National Park). That is a terrifying hike, but an exhilarating one and reading this brought back memories from when I did it a few years ago. Anyway, there's a lot going for this read. I'm so glad I read it and I think soon I'm going to have to revisit the whole Work and the Glory series.

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