Wednesday, January 28, 2015

LDS BOOK REVIEW: Only the Brave by Gerald N. Lund

As this standalone sequel to The Undaunted begins, four years have passed since the first Mormon pioneers made the harrowing journey to carve the Hole-in-the-Rock trail to the region of the San Juan River in southeastern Utah. In that time, the settlers have dug in deep to try to establish roots in this untamed and unforgiving desert, but life is still far from easy. Biting winds, devastating floods, scorching heat, barren terrain, and tensions with everyone from Indians to outlaws to competing ranchers have threatened the pioneers' ability to thrive—or even survive.

But the call from Church leaders to establish peaceful, stable settlements in the volatile region still stands, so young Mitch Westland and his family must find a way to make a home amid the harshest of circumstances. They soon learn that their only chance of success lies in uniting together with the other faithful Saints—including the Zimmers and their charming daughter, Edie. Can the families withstand the blows that seem to come every step of the way as they struggle against man, nature, and their own fears to heed a prophetic call? Many settlers will try to conquer that rugged territory, but only the brave will prevail.


Elder 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, Fire of the Covenant, The Kingdom and the Crown series, and The Undaunted. He and his late wife, Lynn, are the parents of seven children.


One thing I've always loved about Gerald Lund's books is how real his stories feel.  His characters seem to live and breath both the fictional ones and the real ones.  I've also always appreciated his honesty in terms of what he has added or changed to make the story work, it's helpful in terms of knowing what really happened and what didn't.  Only the Brave is just as good as all his other works. I can safely say that the people who settled the San Juan area were truly courageous people.  To settle in such a harsh landscape, far away from any real source of help, they were really on their own most of the time.  The notes that the author includes at the beginning make reference to church leaders referring to these pioneers as buffers, shock absorbers, and lightning rods. I'm pretty sure that if I were called that it would make me run away very quickly. Great characters, Great story. Great book.

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