"Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay.” —Francis Webster, Martin Handcart Company, 1856
In the summer of 1856, three companies of handcarts were outfitted and sent west from Iowa to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. All went well, and they arrived without undue incident. But two additional companies — one captained by James G. Willie, and the other by Edward Martin — left England late in the season. When they arrived at Iowa City, they were long past the time for safe departure across the plains. By the time they left Florence, Nebraska, with still more than a thousand miles to go, it was near the end of August. As if that were not serious enough, President Brigham Young thought that the arrival of the third company ended the migration for that season and ordered the resupply wagons back to Salt Lake. Fire of the Covenant is the story of those handcart pioneers and their exodus to the Salt Lake Valley.
Author Gerald N. Lund has used the same techniques present in The Work and the Glory series to blend fictional characters into the tapestry of actual historical events, making this a story filled with all the elements of great drama — tragedy, triumph, pathos, courage, sacrifice, surrender and faith.