The year? Roughly 321 AD. The place? Ancient America. The situation? The fall of a great nation. Usually I don't like books where I know the outcome. It ruins the surprises that the author throws at me. Having said that, this is one of the few times when an author has used a scene from the future to set up the events proceeding it effectively.
I must say, I'm impressed.
The story revolves around two great societies: the Nephites and the Lamanites. Though both come from a common bloodline, they are a divided people. The Lamanites, who are descendants from a man named Laman, have a deep seeded hatred for the Nephites, who came from Nephi. Their issue? Laman and Nephi were brothers, with Nephi being the youngest. He was also the chosen one, which Laman took exception to.
Generations have passed since these brothers have died, but their ancestors live on, and often go to war with each other. In the mix are the evil secretive society, the Gadiantons, who stir up trouble.
With this as a canvas to draw upon, West masterfully paints an incredible description of not only the people, but the lifestyles they lived. Everywhere are details that bring to life an epic story of good men trying to do what is right, despite the resistance and indifference of their fellowmen. Then there are those that would use old grudges to rile up their people to do as they please.
I can't praise this book enough--not only for its pacing and story, but the vivid characters West brings to life. When I said the Devil's in the details, it's because behind all the evil and terrible things that happen to these people, it's evident how people are manipulated by people focusing on the wrong things in life. It's a sad story that unfortunately we see being played out on the world's stage even today.
West is currently working on the second book, Blood of our Fathers scheduled for release sometime in 2011. Well, it's 2011--bring it on!
The book can be purchased here.