So now that Limhi has learned from Ammon about the people of Mosiah, he becomes determined to free his people from the awful deal he struck with the Lamanite king. The events that follow are ludicrous.
A Public Gathering is No Place to Formulate a Secret Plan
In one of the Book of Mormon's many references to the value of democracy, King Limhi decided that, in order to "have the voice of the people concerning the matter," he needed to call this big town meeting so everyone could brainstorm ideas for getting out from under Lamanite rule.
It's a nice idea, but you have to wonder how the Lamanite overseers failed to notice a huge meeting of Nephites—or, if they noticed, you have to wonder how they failed to realize that the meeting was about a mass prison break. Large gatherings tend to spell trouble for oppressive regimes. You'd think the Lamanites would have sent some soldiers in to break up the revolution before it gathered any momentum. It seems a little weird that they didn't.
Alcohol Does Not Make Everyone Pass Out
The ingenious plan proposed by Gideon was to offer a totally-not-suspicious extra helping of wine in their payment of goods to their Lamanite masters. Somehow, the Lamanite guards were actually dumb enough to get completely plastered. It's implied (though not explicitly stated) that every last one of the guards passed out. I find it really hard to believe that there weren't at least a decent portion of the guards that were smarter and less inebriated. There should have at least been enough guards left to run for reinforcements to stop the entire city of Nephites "with their flocks and their herds...all their gold, and silver, and their precious things, which they could carry, and also their provisions." Of course, considering the Nephite city was surrounded by Lamanite settlements, the Lamanite civilians must have been drunk too as Limhi's people walked past their homes in the middle of the night.
I suppose this is supposed to be interpreted as a miracle—that God caused an increased stupor of drunkenness to fall upon the Lamanites that their righteous captives might be freed from bondage. But the Book of Mormon is usually pretty good about saying things like, "HEY, EVERYONE, AND THUS WE SEE THAT GOD DID SOMETHING MIRACULOUS." Here, there's nothing. There's no mention of God at all. All the events of this chapter are attributed directly to the characters involved. Limhi's people escaped on their own without the Lord's help. Without that crucial divine plot device, the story becomes that much more absurd. This is simply a bad chapter from a bad novel.
How Do You Lose Track of a Mass Exodus?
When the Lamanites realized that all their underlings had disappeared, they sent an army after them but failed to catch up after two days. Not only did they fail to overtake them in that time, but they also lost the trail, gave up, and went home.
So an army, which is designed to be mobile, couldn't catch up to a slow-moving mass of civilians, livestock and children? They were even so slow that they couldn't follow the tracks anymore—and the tracks of thousands of people and thousands of animals don't just disappear after a little rain. I feel like the guy who was in charge of that army was probably executed by the Lamanite king for incompetence upon his return home.
Slowest. Army. Ever.