Friday, July 2, 2010

Alma the Younger by H.B. Moore

Alma the Younger by H. B. Moore

"As night falls, a scarlet-robed man emerges from the temple and a hush falls over the waiting crowd. Studying the hooded figure with enmity, Alma recognizes that this is the man who incites rebellion among the people of Zarahemla. This is the man who dares preach from the very place where King Benjamin uttered his final blessings upon the people of the church. Defiling the tower with his very presence, the man who embodies evil raises a hand to silence the drums, then calls to his followers through the eerie quiet. And that’s when Alma realizes the terrible truth: this man is his son.

Alma the Younger, son of the aging high priest, once was taught by the wisdom of prophets. Now the young man is a thief — ensnared by the wiles of strong drink and harlots; a bitter dissenter determined to overthrow the church, to lead the people into new “freedoms.“ He has gathered a strong army to create a revolution, which only begins with the desecration of the temple and will escalate to calamity once he captures King Mosiah’s daughter. But en route to his malicious mission with his royal henchmen, Alma is halted by an unexpected opponent: an angel of the Lord, a messenger of the very God he has sought to defame. And what unfolds is a story of miraculous redemption, a story building on the poignant Book of Mormon account to show how even the vilest of sinners can be transformed by the Savior’s amazing grace."

H.B. Moore has created another detailed scriptural retelling of the life of Alma the Younger. Using historical research based on Mayan cultural traditions she makes her characters setting and daily life seem very relatable and life like. I think she does a really good job at this and I enjoy the little details about food, hunting, and other traditions that give her stories a rich background. Alma’s bad decisions are the main basis for the plot and Moore has obviously put a lot of thought into the reasons and motivations behind Alma’s apostasy. The main bulk of the writing focuses on this part of Alma’s life, and I sort of wished she had spent a bit more text focusing on the conversion of Alma and the sons of Mosiah after they had seen the angel. In specific I wish she could have added more detail for their motivations to go on missions to the Lamanites. That part of the story seemed a bit rushed to me. Yet, I think she did a good job of showing that Alma’s and the sons of Mosiah’s actions had consequences, some of which they could never fix.

Moore said that a major challenge to portraying Alma’s character was the fact that it was hard to create a character the reader could care about as he went around doing bad stuff, and I think she did a good job of making him likable despite his faults, but around the middle-end of the plot I kind of got impatient for his conversion to come, and was ready for the focus of the plot to change. As a result this wasn’t my favorite scriptural retelling story, but I found that I did gain some new insights into motivations behind apostasy and the historical details of the scriptures. Moore ultimately delivers a thoughtful and useful scriptural retelling that matches up to the quality of her previous novels. This novel includes a map, author preface, character chart, historical chapter notes, and a selected biography.

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Heather B. Moore said...

Thanks so much for the review!

Andy Lemmon said...

I didn't like Alma as much as I liked Abinadi, so I've been hesitant to get this book. It sounds like i'd have the same frustrations with this book that I had with Alma. Thanks for the review!