--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
The acclaimed fantasy epic, together in one volume.
Since its publication in 1977, Stephen Donaldson’s award-winning trilogy has become an indisputable fantasy classic, hailed by the critics and loved by millions of readers around the world. Now all three books are available in one paperback volume for the first time.
“In ths enormous fantasy, the timeless battle of good and evil is played out against a stunningly detailed and imaginative alternate-world background – giants, cave-dwellers, intelligent horses, strange beasts, potent talismans, and men with incomprehensible powers. The hero, a modern American transported mysteriously to this strange environment, manages to make it all believable because he has trouble believing it himself. Donaldson has created a classic.”
“Something entirely out of the ordinary … you’ll want to go straight through 'Lord Foul’s Bane, The Ilearth War' and 'The Power That Preserves' at one sitting.”
“A trilogy of remarkable scope and sophistication.”
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Stephen Donaldson was born in 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio. Between the ages of three and sixteen he lived in India, where his father, an orthopaedic surgeon, worked with leprosy sufferers. This inspired his fictional character, Thomas Covenant.
Donaldson served two years as a conscientious objector doing hospital work in Akron, then attended Kent State University, where he received his M.A. in English in 1971. He now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
After the first three or four chapters you find yourself completely immersed in the rich, beautiful world Stephen Donaldson has created. This is one of the few series of books you can really lose yourself in. You become part of the story, and from then on, you can't put it down.
I will be buying all the other books in the series and any others I can find by Mr. Donalsdon.
"A trilogy of remarkable scope and sophistication."
"Thomas Covenant" also adds another dimension to story telling that challenges the reader. You do care about Covenant in these stories, but the reader's first reaction to him is to dislike, even loathe him. Donaldson then takes all the typical actions of a fantasy hero and turns them on their head. Where as Lira threw herself in to the action (rightly or wrongly - and I liked that treatment), Harry Potter rises to the challenge of being a hero, as does Frodo, or Aragorn standing tall and proud and fighting his cause come-what-may; Thomas Covenant does all he can to get away from his situation. Many times he has the opportunity to change the course of events, and when things look like they couldn't get much worse; he does a damn good job of making things sink to a new dismal low!
Sounds depressing? Actually, it is at a surface level, but somehow Donaldson manages to make you "care" about Covenant, so the reality is that despite wanting to throw the book at something very breakable in frustration, the reader is driven on to find out what the hell happens next.Read more ›
The setting is The Land, a mythical world which of course resembles Middle-earth in many ways. Like Tolkien, Donaldson depicts a largely rural, agrarian society, but unlike Tolkien the inhabitants are mostly humans (the creatures of folklore, while present, are slightly thin on the ground - not a criticism by the way). The threat to the Land comes from without, but Donaldson seems most interested in the interior landscape of his protagonist, the leper Thomas Covenant.
This is the thing that elevates the novels above the bulk of fantasy fiction: a bitter, self-pitying main character who, being shunned by human society, has lost in faith in the goodness of people. His despair is the subject of the book; when he is transported from our own world into an idyllic world where he is not just accepted but needed, he cannot believe in its verity and so cannot be the saviour the people so desperately call for. The Land is the exact opposite of the uncaring world he has known, and his despair makes him reject the friendship and kindness he meets with, selfishly spurning those who offer friendship, causing pain to those who put their trust in him. Covenant is interesting because he has psychological depth. As a hero he is flawed, all too human, and the plot centres around his painfully slow acceptance of his role in a world he does not really believe in: to be its saviour, to offer its people the very things that have always been denied him: friendship, faith and love.Read more ›
Those of the Land can see health. Their senses are not as mundane as ours and the land is itself a friend to them. It is almost as the Platonic concept of an ideal form of which everything on Earth is but a pale imitation. The Land could be that ideal form and our Earth the imitation.
Definately don't go into this expecting even a semi-typical fantasy world. Most fantasy books (especially the well written ones) have characters that seem so real because they exhibit very human characteristics and motivations--the authors have created a believable world (with the addition of fantastic magic and a few spectacular creatures). However, here Donaldson has done more--it isn't necessarily extraordinarily better (it might be), but it is definately very different--his characters are larger than life and live in a world removed from our own.
If you're a fantasy addict then definately check out this book--it may take you a bit to get into it, but it will be an interesting time.
My rating of four is mainly due to the fact that I've not yet finished the trilogy and so I'm not sure how well some unresolved issues are worked out later. I think the rest will be good, but if they get better I'll make them fives, ;-).