"Sorcerers and Seers," by Chris Heimerdinger, Covenant Communications, 2010, 491 pages, $17.99 (paperback), $39.99 (audio book)
It all started when Chris Heimerdinger was serving as a full-time missionary in the 1980s. He had a dream about kids traveling back in time to meet their heroes in the Book of Mormon.
The Salt Lake County resident had no clue that more than 20 years later he would still be writing and publishing the scriptural adventures of Jim Hawkins and Garth Plimpton.
"I only envisioned one book. Then the second book came to me while I was jogging one day," the author said as he sat at a table surrounded by stacks of his latest volume, "Sorcerers and Seers," No. 11 in the "Tennis Shoes" adventure series.
"The demand for 'Tennis Shoes' books seemed to increase, and that was incentive to continue the series. As long as ideas kept flowing and I could keep them fresh and creative, I continued to pursue it."
The new 491-page paperback comes after a five-year break during which Heimerdinger labored on other projects.
The story picks up with several members and friends of the Hawkins/Plimpton clans mixed up in the middle of the great final battle between Nephites, Lamanites and Gadiatons on the slopes of the Hill Cumorah. A few others find themselves in Jerusalem, set to witness the last week of the Savior's mortal ministry.
As in previous "Tennis Shoes" books, the story is told from the perspective of several different characters. This means a reader must stay on his or her toes to follow the complex plot.
While the work is fiction, Heimerdinger provides insight and research notes at the end of each chapter. Because the cast of characters has grown so extensive, the author also provides a list in the opening pages.
Heimerdinger is proud of the product.
"I don't think anyone else has attempted to do such a detailed fiction regarding the battle of the Hill Cumorah and the events and complications leading up to it," he said after signing a book for a fan. "Certainly no one has ever dealt with the many aspects of the last week of the life of the Savior in the way that I have approached it. The ideas always give people the feeling of what it might have been like to be there.
"The idea is really to send people back to the scriptures. My books are temporary and not nearly as important as the scriptures themselves, so the idea is hopefully as they read the scriptures maybe they can put some flesh on the bones of faces and places and times and help them to better appreciate the spiritual message that the scriptures are trying to provide."
Believe it or not, "Sorcerers and Seers" is not the end of the series. There will be at least one more book, Heimerdinger said. Right now the author is writing "Return to Zarahemla," a sequel to "Passage to Zarahemla." When that project is finished and released, Heimerdinger will finish Book 12 in the "Tennis Shoes" series, "Thorns of Glory."
"They will know why I had to write that book before the next 'Tennis Shoes' book," he said.
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