When I was 12, Lord Foul's Bane was published in the UK. Donaldson's debut and subsequent novels hooked me so completely that I've been looking for a repeat of that 'pure reading' experience ever since. Periodically, my search takes me to the latest 'hot' new multi part fantasy (Jordan, Feist, Goodkind, Eddings etc) but only Tad Williams' books have come close to the extraordinary sensation of reading the Thomas Covenant story arc. With the other (endless) sagas, I've never been able to get past the first couple of instalments before their derivative and formulaic hack work; same story - different names, becomes too much.
Donaldson's books remain apart. The central characters have a complexity and humanity that makes them properly three-dimensional and their heroism becomes utterly convincing because of it. These books have everything you want from fantasy; a literate prose style, emotional engagement, character development, awe and wonder, impossible odds, fear, glossaries and cool characters (Vain, the Haruchai...wow). Most of all, while you always know that these kind of books end in a showdown with 'Evil', the journey to that moment is never predictable, never implausible, always gripping.
I read the books as the were published through my school years. And I've read them again, first when I was at University, and again about 5 years ago in Nepal, relaxing after a month long trek. Each time I 'consumed' the two trilogies in a matter of days - barely stopping for food. Each time Donaldson transported me back to the Land, a fantasy realm for grown-ups.
Last year I got married. It had to be with a white gold ring....
I urge you to read these books