pdf Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 4/1 (1992)  >  Dominions of the Gadiantons
  1. Editor's Introduction: Questions to Legal Answers
  2. Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion
  3. George Dempster Smith, Jr., on the Book of Mormon
  4. Stories from the Early Saints: Converted by the Book of Mormon
  5. Living the Book of Mormon: A Guide to Understanding and Applying Its Principles in Today's World
  6. Ancient American Indians: Their Origins, Civilizations and Old World Connections
  7. Fathers and Sons in the Book of Mormon
  8. Fathers and Sons in the Book of Mormon
  9. The Book of Isaiah: A New Translation with Interpretive Keys from the Book of Mormon
  10. The Book of Isaiah: A New Translation with Interpretive Keys from the Book of Mormon
  11. A Standard unto My People
  12. Southwestern American Indian Rock Art and the Book of Mormon
  13. Gadiantons and the Silver Sword: A Novel
  14. The Truth about Mormonism: A Former Adherent Analyzes the LDS Faith
  15. A Tragedy of Errors
  16. The Book of Abraham: Divinely Inspired Scripture
  17. By Study and Also by Faith, vol. 2
  18. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon Vol. 3, Alma through Helaman
  19. Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon. Vol. 3 Alma through Helaman
  20. Dominions of the Gadiantons
  21. The Most Correct Book: Why the Book of Mormon Is the Keystone Scripture
  22. The Book of Mormon: Mosiah, Salvation Only through Christ
  23. Isaiah Made Easier
  24. Rediscovering the Book of Mormon
  25. Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?
  26. Out of Darkness into Light: A Novel Approach
  27. The Use of the Old Testament in the Book of Mormon
  28. Death Knell or Tinkling Cymbals?
  29. Fantastic Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory
  30. Fantastic Archaeology: The Wild Side of North American Prehistory
  31. To Mothers & Fathers from the Book of Mormon
  32. 1991 Book of Mormon Bibliography
  33. About the Reviewers

Review of Robert Marcum, Dominions of the Gadiantons. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991. 317 pp. $9.95.

Reviewed by Steven G. Nelson

Before I even began reading this book, the question "Why was this written?" came to mind. The jacket cover seemed to suggest part of the motive: "This . . . thriller . . . blends action, intrigue, and wholesome romance in a fast-paced story that has all the excitement of a Tom Clancy novel while being appropriate for the LDS reader." Sort of a bowdlerized Bond, I surmised. The result was a bit worse.

The premise of taking a Lamanite, war-hero, former bishop, one-eyed stockbroker as a protagonist in a scheme to save the civilized world (and convert a beautiful woman in the process) would appear a bit extreme. While it indeed proves to be, first-time novelist Marcum still manages to hold the reader's interest in most places.

Supposing that an expurgated action-suspense novel were needed (Tom Clancy is, after all, rather tame), I wouldn't have minded one that gave its hero a Christian conscience and some morals. What we get here, though, is a strange mix of theology, thrills, and titillation. I guess I'm just not ready for literature that wants to combine the secular and spiritual quite so intimately. At one point the protagonist spends several cliché-ridden paragraphs discoursing to his gentile love interest on the need for suffering: "We accepted it as a necessary part of the experience by which we can return to live with him [God] and . . . even to be like him" (p. 85). A page or so later he is "feeling her softness through the terry cloth robe. [His] tenseness . . . replaced with a gentle desire . . . [with his] arms enveloping her" (p. 89).

Marcum is at his best when he deals with the world of high-tech intrigue. The elements of suspense are enough to draw the reader through the sentimentality and sacrament-meeting theology to the conclusion. But unlike the short stories of Don Marshall or Levi Peterson, this book fails to flesh out a unique Mormon identity, instead of allowing the characters to become mere caricatures, mouthing platitudes. I hope that, in Marcum's next novel, he will decide what he wants it to be and allow for more complex development of his characters. Will he be the Mormon Tom Clancy or just another Jack Weyland?