Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In the Company of Angels by David Farland

by Guest Reviewer, Robyn Heirtzler

New York Times best-selling author David Farland has done it again, created compelling fiction with unforgettable characters in his newest novel, In the Company of Angels.

Based on the true story of the Willie Handcart Company, Farland has beautifully captured the trials, fears and hope of these pioneers. He seamlessly pieces the thoughts and actions of the feisty Eliza Gadd, Captain James G. Willie and young Baline Mortensen into a compelling story that’s difficult to release. Led by Captain Willie, the company encounters countless tragedies that delays their trip across the plains, eventually resulting in numerous deaths from exposure and starvation.

Indian wars rage as they march across the plains, carrying their sick and injured in handcarts built from scraps of wood. Companies ahead of them report nearly constant threat of the raids and the discovery of corpses along the trail does little to ease their fears.

This heartbreaking account takes the reader to Eliza Gadd’s side as she watches her family collapse around her and culminates as Baline Mortensen gives the ultimate sacrifice…

In the Company of Angels is a story for all faiths and all people. It’s a historical recollection of fact combined in a novel that makes the reader believe he’s walking beside these brave pioneers.
From the prologue: “…Fifteen people are buried there in a circle, laid out toe to toe. In 1856, they tried to cross a continent, hauling all that they owned in handcarts, and were caught in an early storm. Most were men who died struggling to save their families from the brutal blizzard, but others were children, weakened by starvation. They are but a few of those who died along the trail.

“Their story is not a common tragedy. Theirs is a story of courage, hope, and heroism that may be unparalleled in the American West.

“Few have tried to tell their tale. It is not an easy one to tell. Though survivors, and even many of those who died, left biographical accounts, it is an odd tale—a story of revelations, of angelic visitations, of people struggling to find religious freedom in a harsh world.”

David Farland is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author with nearly fifty novels in print. While most of his novels fit into other genres, Dave felt deeply touched by the story of the Willie Handcart Company, and so began to study it with an eye toward writing the tale. He spent two years in the process, reading from numerous biographies, pulling handcarts, and traveling along the Old Mormon Trail.

The novel can be purchased here.

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