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The Fire and the Ore

Three spirited wives in nineteenth-century Utah. One husband. A compelling novel of family, sisterhood, and survival by the Washington Post bestselling author of One for the Blackbird, One for the Crow.

1857. Three women—once strangers—come together in unpredictable Utah Territory. Hopeful, desperate, and willful, they’ll allow nothing on Earth or in Heaven to stand in their way.

Following the call of their newfound Mormon faith, Tamar Loader and her family weather a brutal pilgrimage from England to Utah, where Tamar is united with her destined husband, Thomas Ricks. Clinging to a promise for the future, she abides an unexpected surprise: Thomas is already wedded to one woman—Tabitha, a local healer—and betrothed to still another.

Orphaned by tragedy and stranded in the Salt Lake Valley, Jane Shupe struggles to provide for herself and her younger sister. She is no member of the Mormon migration, yet Jane agrees to marry Thomas. Out of necessity, with no love lost, she too must bear the trials of a sister-wife.

But when the US Army’s invasion brings the rebellious Mormon community to heel, Tamar, Jane, and Tabitha are forced to retreat into the hostile desert wilderness with little in common but the same man—and the resolve to keep themselves and their children alive. What they discover, as one, is redemption, a new definition of family, and a bond stronger than matrimony that is tested like never before.

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Based in part on author Olivia Hawker’s own family history, The Fire and the Ore is the compelling story of three courageous women who were forced to endure great sacrifice during the Utah War. Combining a heartrending narrative with richly detailed historical accuracy, this novel reminded me of both Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds and Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven.

Drawn together by a man who had secretly embraced polygamy, Tamar, Jane, and Tabitha have little power and few choices within the patriarchal leadership of the Mormon church. All three women need their marriage for reasons of their own, and yet they can’t reconcile themselves to their circumstances.

But when the United States Army marches on Utah Territory, the women and children must retreat into the hostile desert wilderness. The three wives must cooperate if they hope to keep themselves and their children alive—and in the process, each finds a new definition of family, one that unites her with her sister-wives in a bond stronger than the ties of faith and marriage.

This novel is both epic and nearly impossible to put down. Because they became so real to me, I simply had to know what became of Tamar, Jane, and Tabitha—and their unorthodox sisterhood.

—Chris Werner, Editor

“An interesting and readable story, but what makes it more profound is that all these characters actually existed, with nearly unchanged backstories.” Booklist

“A deeply moving novel that is so beautifully crafted you can’t help but feel the sun beat down on your back or the snow bite into your skin. The evocative setting and well-researched history combined with nuanced characters make this novel one not to miss.” Historical Novels Review

“With The Fire and the Ore, Olivia Hawker delivers a compelling and epic novel that proves she is a master of her craft, a storyteller of supreme talent. This book is all heart. It’s meticulously researched, brilliantly constructed, and rich with historical detail. On top of all that, it’s a stunning and breathtaking page-turner…This is, quite simply, a beautiful book that readers will love and devour.” —Julianne MacLean, USA Today bestselling author

“A beautiful and nuanced story about a little-known and little-understood period of history and three women who have every reason to dislike one another but, driven by different levels of faith, need, and ambition, find their way to a deep and lasting bond. The Fire and the Ore is a well-researched and deeply felt novel of tragedy, hope, and connection.” —Megan Chance, bestselling author of A Splendid Ruin

“Based on real family history, this is the heartrending story of the trials endured by Mormon converts as they made their way across the American wilderness to their promised land and of the triumph of sisterhood over adversity. A must read for fans of Western history.” —Rhys Bowen, New York Times bestselling author of The Venice Sketchbook

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