The Zion Trail, by award-winning author Marsha Ward, is a masterful story of early Mormon settlers' conversion and trek west. Her knowledge of the complex and painful early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Mormons) is evident. Historic characters and events are seamlessly incorporated with those she has created, giving readers accurate glimpses into the trials and triumphs of these western pioneers.
Ward writes with a golden quill, seemingly dipped in the very sweat, joys, and tears, of these settlers. The Zion Trail reads like a personal journal of her main character, Elijah (Lije) Marshall, whose life is forever changes when he takes a pair of tired Mormon missionaries home to dine with his family. Though his Christian parents readily accept the missionaries message and the Book of Mormon they are given, they are completely unprepared for the backlash they face when neighbors find out about their baptism and new faith.
As the persecution mounts, so does the cost to the Marshall family. Ward allows Lije’s spiritual growth to develop as gently and naturally as his social and physical maturity, and we feel his suffering over past mistakes, and his self-doubt as he is called on, again and again, to become a man in his youth.
The story Ward weaves of the trek west had me fully invested, but her introduction of a young widow and the wagon master’s edict, charging her care and that of her infant son to Lije, added additional tension and expectation to the book.
Ward’s experience in this genre shines through. She holds to the period and voice of her hero perfectly until you seriously forget that this is a work of fiction.
The Zion Trail is not just for Mormons, though they will love it. I highly recommend it to any reader who relishes a gritty pioneer story, or western saga. It’s a great read, with wonderful history and endearing characters, and a heartwarming romance that satisfies.
The Zion Trail is available here:https://www.amazon.com/Zion-Trail-Promised-Valley-Book-ebook/dp/B01BJ326EY