Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Are You Willing to Die For? Review of Abinadi by H.B. Moore

by Julie Coulter Bellon

Can you think of something that you would be willing to die for? Is there something that could compel you to leave your home and family and everything you loved behind, knowing you wouldn't see them again in this lifetime? With the many different beliefs, schools of thoughts, and testimonials in this world, is there anything that you would willingly give your life for in defense of what you know to be true?

H.B. Moore’s new book Abinadi offers a gut-wrenching and emotional, yet quietly spiritual and uplifting view of the prophet Abinadi. Her story presents him as a young man, married, with a child, who is commanded to go to the wicked city of Nephi to preach to the people there---to warn them of their destruction unless they repent. He is a man with everything to lose, yet he does what the Lord has asked him to and he does it with faith. It is a sobering view of this prophet, yet one that is tender and soul-searching.

If you have read the account in the Book of Mormon, you know how it ends, but Moore seems to be able to reach in and give the events an extra emotional and realistic punch. For example, we know Abinadi died, and many people believe that Abinadi was burned at the stake, however, through extensive research, Moore presents the possibility that he was actually scourged with flaming sticks until Abinadi “suffered death by fire.” But what if Abinadi’s loved ones had been in the crowd that was watching him die? What if he had truly left behind a wife and a child and sealed his testimony with his own blood, knowing that he wouldn’t be there for his family? That is what sets this story apart from other Book of Mormon historical fiction that I’ve read, the research details (that are provided in her chapter notes, which I found very interesting) and the human story that she entwines with them, making it a compelling and contemplative read.

I honestly couldn’t put the book down and the story did make me think about some of my own ideas about Abinadi. For example, I’ve long seen the prophet Abinadi as a tragic figure, but Moore’s book points out several things that made me pause and examine my opinions more closely. I did like that Moore makes a point to show that Abinadi’s death was not in vain and his work was continued, through Alma. From what I understand, Moore is working on the next book, which is about the prophet Alma and I'm anxious to see what she presents in that story. I also liked how plausible the scenarios in Abinadi were, especially for King Noah and his actions, as well as Alma. I think the fact that she is so careful in her research and stays true to the fabric of the story is what sets her apart as a writer and, more particularly, as a Book of Mormon historical writer. Some people feel uncomfortable when prophets and their lives are fictionalized, but I think Moore offers something profound with her characterizations and the fact that they seem so true to life somehow, if that’s possible. Regardless, any book that makes you think about it long after you’ve put it down is a book that is well worth your time and Abinadi is one I would highly recommend.


At 11/21/2008 8:37 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

I just got my AUTOGRAPHED copy in the mail yesterday -- purchased through the Whitney Auction, of course. Unfortunately, it has my husband's name inscribed in front. Now I'm wondering if I'll be able to get away with reading it very carefully before wrapping...

I'm a big Heather Moore fan. I can't wait to read this one! (And maybe I won't.)

At 11/21/2008 6:28 PM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Julie, I'm really glad you enjoyed the book. Thanks so much for the kind review. I often ask myself the same question, knowing how many people--both ancient and modern--have made incredible sacrifices for their faith.


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