Review: Alma The Younger

It’s not often that I get hooked by LDS fiction to the point that I end up reading as I’m walking down the hall from one room to another, but I came across one of those books this past week.

H.B. Moore is rapidly doing for Book of Mormon-based fiction what Gerald N. Lund did for Church History with his Work and the Glory series.  Her Out of Jerusalem quartet followed by this new series of prophet-protagonists including Abinadi, Alma, and now Alma the Younger may not be selling as well as Lund’s books did, but they should be, and the people who enjoyed Lund’s epics will find Moore’s characters and narratives equally engaging. 

There are many challenges involved in basing a fictional world around Book of Mormon stories, and Moore rises to them with solid fiction-writing skills and adequate research.  The chapter notes indicate reliance on the Sorenson worldview for BOM settings and firmly establish the reign of Mosiah in the pre-classical Mayan era.  References to food, clothing and cultural expectations all add to the “this is how it could have been” realism. 

The fact that this 300-page novel is based almost entirely on a single chapter (Mosiah 27) of the Book of Mormon speaks not only to that book’s vast wealth of story possibilities, but also to Moore’s ample imaginitive powers.  Alma is presented as a natural leader chaffing under his High Priest father’s restrictions and the boring (though sacred) job he’s been given as a records-keeper at the temple in Zarahemla.  Alma makes plenty of bad decisions on his way to becoming “a wicked and an idolatrous man”.  Moore builds the tension by keeping Alma’s status as leader of the rebellion against the Church a secret from King Mosiah and Alma the Elder until a shocking assault on the temple itself.  Since women are unfortunately almost non-existent in the BOM, (though Moore herself has written an entire book on this subject!), Moore has crafted a couple of strong fictional characters in Maia, Alma’s mother, and Cassia, a daughter of Mosiah who provides a very natural romantic interest.  Mosiah’s son Ammon is introduced as the crown prince and his future arm-chopping prowess is hinted at (Moore’s current work in progress is Ammon). 

Moore’s genius is her handling of Alma the Younger himself.  As this young man turns from truth and discovers how his natural charisma and talents can be employed in what feels to him like a righteous cause, I was dismayed to find myself actually sympathizing with him.  I’ve ready Mosiah 27 dozens of times but only while reading Alma the Younger did I actually understand how someone can arrive at that dark place called anti-christ.  The scary thing is that the rationalizing that leads to it sometimes makes all too much sense.  Even without the gripping story and strong characters, that insight alone is worth this book’s price.

Click Cover to order from Amazon


One Response

  1. Thanks a million for the thorough review!

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