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on March 26, 2011
I wish that someone had written a review that mentioned that this book was written for the purpose of proselytizing re: the Mormon religion. I was quite disgusted with the recurring theme that Mormonism is better than every other religion and that they are somehow supreme beings and even people with sound Catholic beliefs should give up their god and buy into the LDS beliefs.
I am not a disgruntled Catholic, I am a spiritual person who lives according to two principles; "do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and 'love thy neighbour as thyself'. I do not subscribe to manmade rules and dogma of various religions and I am tolerant of the right of people to believe what they want to. I just don't like to have such negativism regarding other religions shoved down my throat under the guise of literature. I could not finish the whole book and would not recommend it to anyone.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon September 15, 2010
I first saw this trilogy mentioned on the Kindle Boards and was delighted to find it since I love reading multigenerational historical novels. Having a Kindle made it even better since I looked forward to enjoying an entertaining epic (size is over 17,000 locations) without trying to juggle an oversized hard cover book. The premise also seemed sound dealing with immigrants to Utah with differing religions and backgrounds.

My rating is for the trilogy as a whole since there doesn't seem to be any sound reason to fragment it into three sections. I am disappointed that I can not rate it higher than three stars even though I believe that the author is a natural born story teller and writes in a very clear narrative style.

The problem I had with this book is that in order to sustain interest, the characters and story line should be compelling. I found that most of the characters including the two main ones, Tom and Katrina, to be one dimensional. The dialogue seemed wooden and completely absent of wit or humor.

The underlying theme of the book is their spiritual quest and it completely overshadows any other story line. Their spiritual angst and beliefs comprised a great deal of the book which had a heavy religious component throughout. I imagine that if this novel were summarized more accurately emphasizing this theme, it might capture a more appreciative audience.

As for the the other story lines, I felt as though I was reading a novel that was constructed by following a time line for the period listing all the major world events. It seemed as though the situations in the novel were expressly created to see how many famous personalities from that time frame could be incorporated into the story. Since so many historical events were included, they all received very superficial treatment.

I think the book would have benefited from having a more narrow focus and more multifaceted characters.
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on February 2, 2011
Spirit of Union Trilogy: Destiny (aka Book 1)
Of the three, this one is my favorite. A wonderfully thought out story line with well developed characters. This is a book for men or women, although, as a woman I found it very chivalrous and become quite fond of Thomas Callahan. Relationships between characters were en pointe with customary social standards of the time period this book was set. I enjoyed the romance involved with the two main characters, Thomas and Katrina Hansen. I was angry at Stromberg at his deception concerning Katrina and Theresa. I was amazed at Katrina's resilience (which continues throughout the series) and faith. I appreciate the author's reliance on God despite any religious differences I personally may have with the Catholic or Mormon belief systems. I was enthralled with a good, quality read that did not have questionable verbiage, situations or overly violent scenes.

Spirit of Union Trilogy: Conflict (aka Book 2)
The title explains it all. Historically the world is at war and you can bet that Thomas Callahan is somewhere in the midst of it, albeit financially or physically. As I reflect on my reading of this book there are many positive and prosperous situations that arise. The most prominent being the tragedy of the Titanic. Without divulging the events of this tragedy I am abhorred at Thomas in this book. I had tears in my eyes and the consequences of his actions on the life of his child just made me angry at him. Katrina becomes even more of a beautiful person to me--even after the loss of her first child in Book 1, her best friend, Teresa and the resilience she had after Teresa's death. I anticipated the end of this book so that I could jump into Book 3.

Spirit of Union Trilogy: Heritage (aka Book 3)
I loved watching the Callahan kids grow up and blossom into productive members of society. I was antsy when Thomas was wrapped up in the revolution and I couldn't believe that Katrina was able to accomplish the things that she did to get Thomas back to the United States. Although I don't necessarily find it difficult to believe that Tommy has received all the accolades and promotions in the Marine Corps we, as the reader, were there with every one of them. It seemed surreal and although we didn't experience the bombing of Pearl Harbor--I totally expected it. PJ almost totally disappears from the book and I would have loved to have seen him become more of a primary character. I loved the picture that was created with Thomas when he went for an escape on the mountain (the dream sequence). And Tess, isn't she just beautiful?! Like a parent who wants the best for their child I kept waiting and waiting for her to make better decisions regarding her marriage--to a man who loved her dearly. Tommy, poor Tommy...after all the successes in his career and his ultimate decision to settle down brings him the most horrific of endings. Wow, I just would have liked things to have worked out better for him in the long run!

Ultimately, with tears running down my face at the last chapter of the book, the last scene was the most beautiful written and touching I've ever read. This trilogy ended most appropriately. Again, I will not divulge the details, you MUST read them for yourself... but I would have wished nothing less on the Callahan family. A life that was undergirded with strong faith, a solid sense of family values, a hope for the best life has to offer and though there were many trials, in the end it was all beautiful.

Side note: Gordon, thanks for the opportunity to read this, I sincerely apologize for being two days late in my review. I hope I have not discouraged you from doing this again in the future!
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on January 15, 2011
While the first part of the trilogy kept me interested, the second didn't. And I cannot get myself to finish this book, sorry. Though it was very well written, it lacked passion. Events in the book that needed to be drawn out in detail, were not. Then I found myself skipping over useless extended details in other parts of the book. I was happy to see Tom and Katrinka finally together, but every time there was a major event in their life...it felt like it was just skipped over. (The wedding, births, etc...) I wanted to see the passion and detail in these characters. It just wasn't there for me.
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on December 29, 2010
By the time I finished this trilogy I felt like I had become a part of the family. While I'm not very religious and "knew" very little about the LDS or Mormon faith I did not find it pushy or preachy. Just a family living their lives the best they could with their beliefs and love for each other getting them through the tough times that life always has plenty of.

The writing was what I have always called comfortable. It flowed easily and I didn't have to reread parts to try and follow what was meant. The characters were very human and you felt their emotions, both the good and the bad.

As a whole this trilogy made me chuckle and shed a tear. I found myself angry and frustrated. A writer of a book or series of books that can do that has done their job.

I thoroughly recommend this trilogy.
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on January 14, 2011
I was gifted the Kindle version of this trilogy by the author. While this book isn't going on my Favorite shelf, I definitely enjoyed it.

This is a family saga with religious and historical references. I won't go into too much detail, as others have covered that quite nicely. If any of these areas interest you and you're considering buying this trilogy, I say "Go for it.", for those who want more info first, continue reading, but this could get long. It's three books after all! :)

The CONS for me:
There were still a few minor formatting issues with the Kindle version, which were a bit distracting, but I know that the author has been addressing those.

Some areas seemed to drag a bit and then jump by years. Since I don't always pay close attention to the dates, I would have to go back to see how much time had indeed passed. Not a problem for those who observe such things more closely.

The series started slowly for me, and my involvement with the characters didn't really develop until the middle of the second book. I did not however, consider putting it aside, I still wanted to see where the family's story went, even when I wasn't particularly attached to them.

The PROS for me:
The diversity of the characters and settings was intriguing. Including the differing religious views.

The dynamics between Catholic and Mormon characters were respectful. I enjoyed that religion didn't have to always be a contention point or divider of peoples, even in the upper levels of power.

*A note to the author: Gordon, if you're reading this, I totally agree with the preface to the second book. It was a bold move to allow a marriage to be successful and loving, even with such broad differences in the characters. Not all marriages are bad because of differing views, even on something as important as religion. There is enough upheaval in the world, I respect that they pulled together, even when not in agreement. Well played Sir!

Wonderfully strong male AND female leads. No hand-wringing maidens in this story!

I loved watching the family move through such a volatile time in history. So many thing were happening in our world! I've personally never considered that one family could have indeed been affected by all of these events.

Well, this has indeed gotten long. I hope that it helps in your decision to buy this trilogy. As I said, not my favorite books of all time, but definitely worth the time I spent reading it. That is our greatest investment in an author, the time we put into living their stories. I don't regret a moment that I "lived" in this one.
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on January 16, 2012
Holy cow.. where was the editor for volume five of "The Complete Series"? In the first four volumes it is firmly established that Tommy was first stationed in Hawaii in 1927, which was also the same year Tess and Seby married and the family all traveled to Hawaii. Tess gave up acting at the close of the '20s, gave birth to her and Seby's first child, Jessica, in 1931 and to Seby Jr in 1932. Volume five however abruptly introduces us in early 1940 to a 19 yr old Mike, "Tess and Seby's oldest child"?! They are also given three younger daughters ages 16, 12 and 3ish... their wedding date and the trip to Hawaii is changed to 1923 [odd considering their new-oldest child is 19 in 1940!] and the reader is left with a sense of "HUH?!!". It wouldnt have been that bad but Mike became a major plotline in the family history and death of a beloved other character! Did the same author even write the last book?? Have any of these reviewers even read this series?? I wish I would have stopped at volume four. I loved the characters and stayed up two nights plowing my way thru the saga. Disappointed beyond words at this glaring mistake!
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on January 24, 2011
I responded to free kindle book offer from the author and I appreciated the chance to read and review this trilogy. The Spirit of the Union - Trilogy tales place during a very busy time in history and the author makes use of almost all the major events in this time period. It became almost predictible but each character's involvement in these events was well developed and believable. The books were well written and enjoyable to read. I thought the 3rd book had too many religious references but overall I didn't feel like the Author's intent was to convert his readers. I learned alot about the Mormon religion that I probably would have never known but for these books.

I agree with one of the other reviews that this is not my all time favorite book but I enjoyed reading it and was definitely drawn into the story. Even though it was long I felt that I read one book instead of 3 and recommend reading this as a Trilogy. Don't skip the Author's prologue!
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on January 29, 2011
I received this bundle a few weeks ago from the author and gave my promise to write an honest review - here it is.

Be sure, that if I wouldn't have liked this book - I would have said so...but, to my relief, quite the contrary is to say: I loved it!! It took me a few pages to get into it (one of the other reviewers said, that he (or she, I don't remember) didn't like to read the thoughts of Thomas at the beginning of the story. Neither did I. But that's the only thing I didn't like about this book: the characters are wonderful, sometimes I really had tears in my eyes, sometimes I smiled and I wanted always to know what will happen next! I liked the persons, they were nearly part of my life during the time I read these books....

Well, if you don't like to read a book with religious content, I am not sure, if it is a book for you. I am not really a religious person (well, maybe in a different kind), but for me it didn't matter, on the contrary I found it very interesting to read about the Mormons in Salt Lake City, how they lived, what they thought.....Religious thoughts and contents are there, but the author is never trying to persuade us to something---he is just the storyteller ---and that's his profession, and he is really gifted in writing....I could see the landscape just before my eyes, could smell the salty seawater or was standing with Tom in a cold river in Alaska...

It's my kind of books that I like: history, a little bit of romance and good characters, a good story and a family and its members - wonderfully told!
I really couldn't put it down!
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on July 19, 2012
I started out thoroughly enjoying this book collection, and thought it was so well written. The historical facts and events were so well researched, and presented with such interest. The characters were very well developed and the story line was exciting and fantastic..then BOOM! Mormonism became the main focus..and even further once the main character, Thomas Callahan bought into the Mormon doctrine the whole story line fell away, and it was like I had two LDS sitting in my living room with me..browbeating me with a false doctrine. I am neither Catholic or Mormon. I believe the true Bible, the one GOD gave us- not the book written by Joseph Smith. I have trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior..and placed my faith in the work He did FOR ME at Calvary. So when the book took a decided turn in it's focus - it became a huge disappointment and I struggled to finish it. Truthfully, once I finished book three, and got into the VERY LENGTHY addendum - I skimmed most of it, and couldn't wait to be done with the whole thing. I wouldn't recommend reading it, in all honesty.
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