The Work and The Glory was an excellent read. I found the characters interesting and the tension apt. Gerald N. Lund does an excellent job of introducing not only the beginnings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but also the lifestyle of the early 1800s. The discussions of the family on building a farm out of virgin forrest, what constitutes an honorable profession, and what niceties the characters desire provide a great insight to the demeanor of those who lived during that era.
I enjoyed the detail the author included about building the Steed farms (both Benjamin's and Nathan's). How the homes were built, the daily tasks each family member had, and what causes friction between the different family members.
I also appreciated how Lund handled sacred experiences, especially Joseph's reluctance to answer questions. This showed maturity in Joseph after the initial reactions he received when sharing his experience in the Sacred Grove. He held true to his calling to translate, but held his spiritual experiences in reserve for those who were ready to accept them.
There is a delicate balance of being too preachy and not covering the material about the church enough, and Lund does an excellent job of striking that balance. He still covers the history, but maintains his story line as spectators to those events. Information is dispensed in a conversational manner, rather than a "my way or the highway" attitude. Readers are also set at ease by characters not accepting everything at first encounter. Some characters are skeptical, while others are more accepting. I think this helps the reader to understand the turmoil surrounding the events he covers.
Overall I would recommend the first volume in the serries to anyone interested in early American lifestyles, love stories, or who have an interest in learing about the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints without getting preached at.