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The Illearth War (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Book 2) Paperback – 5 Aug 1996

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Paperback, 5 Aug 1996
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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (5 Aug. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006152465
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006152460
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 3.7 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,211,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Donaldson lived in India for 13 years with his father, a medical missionary, who worked extensively with lepers; it was here that he conceived the character of Thomas Covenant.
He was awarded the John W. Campbell Award as Best Writer of the Year for The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever, which, with the sequel trilogy, became instant bestsellers.
He is also the author of the fantasy duology 'Mordant's Need', the SF epic quintet 'The Gap', and a number of mysteries written under the pseudonym Reed Stephens. He won the World Fantasy Award in 2000.

Product Description


‘Something entirely out of the ordinary … you’ll want to go straight through Lord Foul’s Bane, The Illearth War and The Power that Preserves at one sitting’ The Times

‘The Thomas Covenant saga is a remarkable acheivement which will certainly find a place on the small list of all true classics’ Washington Post

‘A feast for epic fantasy addicts’ Publishers Weekly

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover


Since its first publication in 1977, Stephen Donaldson's bestselling 'Thomas Covenant' trilogy has become an indisputable classic – acclaimed around the world as the most compelling work of epic fantasy since Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings'.

After scant days in his ‘real’ world, Thomas Covenant found himself summoned once more to the Land. There, forty bitter years had passed while Lord Foul, immortal enemy of the Land, moved to fulfil his prophecy of doom. The Council of Lords found their spells useless, now that Foul the Despiser held the Illearth Stone, ancient source of evil power. High Lord Elena turned in desperation to Covenant and the legendary white gold magic of his ring, but nobody knew how to use the white gold – least of all Thomas Covenant.

“Comparable to Tolkien at his best … a remarkable achievement, which will certainly find a place on the small list of true classics.”

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First Sentence
BY the time Thomas Covenant reached his house the burden of what had happened to him had already become intolerable. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Aug. 2000
Format: Paperback
This book, being the second in the triology, has the advantage of not having to introduce the land and the main character, Thomas Covenant. In many ways this book is not about him at all, which is a good thing considering how unlikeable is. This triology, and the second triology, contains some of the most original fantasy material published in the 20th century and this books is lighter than the other two, making it easier to enjoy the sheer beauty of the Land without distractions.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Waqar on 24 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
Book 2 of one of the most original, imaginative and best Fantasy series’ out there
I have given this four stars because I believe that Tolkiens work is beyond the star rating and this series is below the rating I would give to Jordon’s Wheel of Time series (so far up to book 4) and Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. However I was extremely impressed with Donaldson’s original and imaginative fantasy world.
Donaldson does a very different take by creating such an unusual hero as Thomas Covenant, the Leper (and you don’t forget this throughout the books). Donaldson has created a fantasy world that you can begin to visualise and become immersed in – a sign of excellent fantasy. Covenant is from the real world and is transported into this other fantasy world, which was refreshing for a change. This world is dark, bleak, depressing and there seems to be little hope for it. In fact, you can draw parallels with it and the life of Covenant, who is a leper.
Thomas Covenant finds himself in another world whenever he becomes unconscious, which he therefore thinks is just a dream and refuses to admit that the world is real. He is seen by the inhabitants as some sort of incarnation of a past saviour of their world and revered despite the fact one of his first acts is to rape an innocent young women that has helped him. Covenant’s wedding ring is made of white gold and in this dream world it is the source of “wild magic”, a great power that even the most powerful being in the books is afraid off. However, Covenant does not know how to unleash this power, whenever it is unleashed it is not through deliberate self-will. Covenant’s continuous moaning and self-pity does not endear the reader to him.
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By M Sockel on 27 April 2013
Format: Paperback
Part two of the The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever is definetly better than the first installment.

My issues with part one were that the main character was fundamentally unlikeable and his attitude/ world-view remained unchanged throughout the book. Coupled with a horrific sexual attack - which he appears to never be brought to justice for - made me leary of the second installment.

How wrong was I? Thomas Covenant is sucked back into realm of The Land where 40 years have passed in a matter of days. Lord Foul's army marches, laying waste to the territory held by The Lord's, and Covenant is called to aid Revelstone.

In an epic strongly reminiscent of Tolkein, various parties fight to meet the threat. The story is strong and the various plots interweave well. The writing is good, and (most importantly for me), we begin to see some measure of justice visited upon Covenant for his past crimes.

So why have I docked one star? Two reasons; **SPOILER ALERT**
1) The High Lord Elena (leader of the good guys) knows that she is Covenant's illegimate daughter from the rape, but seems obsessed with carrying out an incestuous relationship with him. Not only was the repulsive, but there is no explanation of her desire. Why does she want to bed her father?

2) The final battle between Elena and Kevin Landwaster had me confused. Why did she choose her one wish to summon the dead? She should have given it more thought and healed the land/ The One Forest or acquired the other lost wards. Additionally, why did Kevin turn on her? Sure he was miffed at being summoned, but he realised who she was and her position in the Lord's Council but still fought her.
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Format: Paperback
As a fan of Stephen Donaldson's trilogy `the second chronicles of Thomas Covenant' I was naturally keen to also read the first trilogy that started it all, being `the chronicles of Thomas Covenant: the unbeliever' with this book (the illearth war) being the second volume following on from Lord Foul's bane. I am constantly overwhelmed by how similarly to renowned author JRR Tolkien; Stephen Donaldson's work is for it has stood the test of time by being as much loved today as it was in 1977. This has to be the most richly detailed and compelling work since `The Lord of the Rings', with its complex plot and vast world-building that takes epic fantasy to ambitious heights.

Volume two: the illearth war continues the story of Thomas Covenant who has spent days in his `real' world before then being summoned once more to the land. Forty bitter years has passed with Lord Foul, the immortal enemy pushing forwards to fulfill his prophecy of doom. With foul the despiser clutching upon his person the Illearth stone (an ancient source of evil & deadly power), the Counsel of the Lords have found their magic useless and no match for the opposition. As the high Lord Elena in desperation turns to Covenant and the legendary white Gold magic of his ring that he is in possession of, their task is simple; to find out how to use the power that is nestled within the ring before it is too late...

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are really special, memorable and such distinctive works that aficionados of high fantasy will love, and be enchanted by the dangers and magic that lies within each installment of this epic work.
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