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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2004
Book 3 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.
Throughout the books you begin to feel the desperation of the world and people who are trying to defend themselves against the domination of the ultimate evil force, Lord Foul. You don’t actually come across Foul till the last book, but since even his minions are so terrifying and powerful you begin to get a sense of an ultimate struggle between good and evil of world and universal proportions, but where “Satan” is much more powerful and the Creator is constrained and has to work through VERY WEAK intermediaries. The three “Ravers” are Lord Foul’s main henchmen (like Suaron’s Black Riders in the Lord of the Rings). The Writer is able to effectively portray them as powerful, depraved creatures that are single-mindedly following their master’s destructive bidding. (these nasty pieces of work you definitely would not like to meet in a dark alley; even if you had all your mates with you).
The Power that Preserves
Is the final book of the first Trilogy/Chronicles. Despite Covenant achieving his goal, this is not a book/series that has a happy ending because there has been so much death and, destruction in this world, and many of the characters that the reader has begun to feel for have died. Even the Bloodguard seem less superhuman now that their Oath has been broken, which you can not help but feel is such a loss. The unemotional Bannor has changed so much in this book. We also finally get the confrontation between Covenant and Lord Foul in this book.
I am surprised... in fact, shocked that there are so few reviews out there about this series of books. Donaldson’s world building is vivid and powerful through the creation of so many peoples, creatures and history. I especially enjoyed the reference to the historical events and characters of the world. This is powerful writing and imaginative and I would recommend any fantasy buffs out there who have not read the series, to do so.
It is definitely one of the best fantasy series’ out there today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 August 2005
Whether for good or ill the end is near--in his second return to the Land Thomas Covenant appears seven years after his last arrival, nearly at the end of the seven times seven years Lord Foul said would be the maximum granted to the Lords. Twice before he has striven to balance his unbelief with the needs of the Land--now it is more important than ever. High Lord Elena's rash act of summoning High Lord Kevin Landwaster broke the Law of Death and granted to Lord Foul powers beyond any he had before weilded.
There is still something pure and archetypal about the Land. The Lords devote themselves to life and its growth while the Despiser, Lord Foul surrounds himself with death and corruption. This is no mere consequence of the ages old struggle for dominance of the Land, it is the character of the Land. Donaldson has woven a picture of an epic struggle that is more than just good versus evil.
There is nothing straightforward about Thomas Covenant and his journies through the land. Each step forward is painful for the Unbeliever as he causes pain to those around him. However, as he discovers the truth of his unbelief and the white gold's power so too the reader will experience the journey, perhaps on the edge of their seat.
This excellent conclusion to <i>The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeleiver</i> isn't formulaic, it isn't predictable and like Hobbes the tiger (Calvin's toy or companion?) we may never know the truth of The Land.
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on 3 May 2013
The final part of the first Thomas Covenant trilogy does not disappoint.

In this installment, the consequences of Covenant's action are laid bare. There is betrayal, peril, a looming evil, a reprieve only for the vilain to comeback stronger before the final inevitable battle.

Having the majority of the setup in the first two books (and you really should not read this without reading the first two), the writing is beautiful, the action non-stop, and the reading is compulsive.

The first two books each took me ten days to read - I read this in four. I could not stop turning pages as I HAD to find out what happened.

All of that aside, I have two quibbles - the first is a pretty bigger plot hole and the second is a plot device.

**SPOILER WARNING**

1) In "The Illearth war", Elena is destroyed when she summons the spirit of Kevin Landwaster who turns against her for breaking the Law of Death. This is fine. However, in "The Power That Preserves", Lord Foul resurrects Elena to serve him, and does so through the power of The Staff of Law. The problem is that in "The Illearth War", Elena was wielding The Staff of Law when Kevin turned on her. So the staff either controls the dead, or it does not. You can't have it both ways.

2) I struggled with the ending of "The Power..."
I have a personal thing against writers who employ Deus Ex Machina style endings. It is cheap bad writing. Whilst "The Power..." is by no means the worst offender I have ever come across, the arrival and interaction with The Creator was wholly unnecessary. Further, the arrival of The Creator causes so many paradox's that the structure of the stories almost breaks down.
The Creator has formed The Land. He is forbidden from interferring with events as to do so would break The Arch of Time which would undo all of existence, and release Lord Foul and the Raver back into heaven.
Yet, despite this, The Creator is stable able to reach down and heal Covenant with out breaking this law... I'm pretty sure that is a foul!

Those two points aside, this is a wonderful book and, on the whole, a worthy end to the first trilogy. I'm sure that Tolkein would be proud.
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There is always a danger when telling an epic story over several volumes that the climax of the story will actually be an anti-climax.

Thankfully that is not the case with this culmination of the First chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Donaldson definately saves the best till last.

I was critical of the first volume for it's incredibly slow pace and the second for it's lack of charactor development in Covenant himself. This has none of those problems. The story rattles along and gives us battles, seiges, emotional reunions, acts of revenge, magic and a fitting final showdown.
There was never any question about Donaldson's ability to write, he has a beautiful and distinctive style that it is quite poetic at times, and here, to this, he adds an action packed story full of genuine heroism, tragedy and glory.
Saltheart Foamfollower makes a very welcome return to the story and Mhoram finally gets his chance to step out of the shadows and onto centre stage and best of all Covenant finally finds his courage and backbone.

I will not add anything to that re the story line for fear of spoiling it for new readers but I cannot agree with the review at the top of this page. My only criticism of this book indeed trilogy are it's paralells with Lord of the Rings of which I found more than a few. However originality is sometimes an overated commodity. Give me an unoriginal great book over a highly original but bad one anyday, and this is, I am happy to say, a great book.
It is however at the end of a very long journey that I was tempted to abandon on more than one occasion.
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on 2 February 2005
I've read the series again. I've done so many times since 1982 when I gave in and decided to have a look at the books described as "comparable to Tolkien at his best." I wouldn't make that comparison as Donaldson doesn't need it. Both authors go down independant tracks, and the comparison makes Donaldson appear derivative. Enough of the babble...
The lovely, inspirational Land of the previous books is now gone. Gripped in desolation, the Giants dead, the Vow of the Bloodguard broken after two thousand years. Everything is in place for Foul's victory. Covenant returns, but this time his leprosy isn't cured. Despite will have it's day as there's nothing worth saving.
It's not Covenant's Land, so why should he care? It's made demands he could not meet, given him honour he did not deserve, lauded a coward as a hero. All he has to do is reject it. But he's a man who empathises with the broken and the hopeless. Now everything is gone he knows what the struggle is about. His anger at his own isolation is about to find an outlet.
Throughout it all, Donaldson weaves a complex narrative about the nature of service and devotion. That somethings are worth saving, and some causes are worth fighting for. That not giving in to despair is the power that preserves.
I love it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 30 June 2002
The power that preserves is the third and last book in the first chronicles of Thomas Covenant the unbeliever. Covenant returns to the land where war is on the brink! yet again. He finds himself on Kevin's watch, Foamfollower whom Covenant assumed was dead and Triock(Lena's former lover) summoned him. They return to Mithil where Covenant is reunited with an aged Lena, to Covenants shame she disgusts him, claiming she has kept herself young for him, Covenant. Seven years have passed and Revelstone home of the lords is about to be besiged. Morham the new high lord(at last!) is losing his faith in the land. The land's only hope is Covenant, he can destroy Foul with his ring. Covenant is burdened by this awful challenge but he bears himself with courage as he sets out for Fouls Creche with Foamfollower, Triock and Lena where he hopes to defeat Foul. Along the way they encounter the Ramen, people who serve the Ranyhn, the strange and wild horses of the land. The Ramen are betrayed, Covenant and Lena are being attacked Lena sacrifices her life for him. Covenant is badly wounded but an Unfettered One heals him. He is reunited with Foamfollower and Triock at the Colossus, they have been captured by Ravers, Fouls dominions. The ghost of Elena is enslaved by Foul and she tries to destroy them. Covnenat overcomes her, with his ring and he destroys the staff of law along with her. Foamfollower and Covenant continue on to Foul's Creche with many obstacles along the way the Jheherrin, sorrowful creatures of living mud help them. Eventually Covenant gets the chance to face Foul for the final showdown. Covenant uses the mighty wild magic of his ring to blast Foul and the Illearth stone once and for all. Back at Revelstone Morham gathers his last hope and fights against Fouls army. They defeat the army and the giant raver with the help of the Krill a powerful sword and the Waynhim, strange creatures of the land. A truly exhailarating but nail-biting read. Though the ending is fairly obvious it was remarkable I was bursting with excitment.This book is irresistible no other books I have read can compare with it.
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on 11 September 2000
Will he? Won`t he? Does he? Doesn`t he? Contradictions galore as the Unbeliever finally faces his ultimate challenge, Lord Foul. Does he have the power to defeat him or will Lord Foul lead him into despair and force him to desecrate the Land he has come to cherish? Featuring one of the best climaxes to any book you will ever read, ever, The Power That Preserves is a breathtaking end to a breath taking series. Cheers Steve!
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on 30 April 2013
I;d read this series years ago and wanted to revisit, so bought it for my kindle. I'd forgotten how detailed the writing is, it took me ages to get back into it and I skipped pages that I couldn't be bothered to read. However the "story" is still intriguing and I'd forgotten all the twists and turns. Despite skipping paragraphs of detail I still enjoyed reading it again.
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Love this book I have read it several times, in fact six to be exact, Why do I like it ? because it frustrates you makes you angry with the character and, you totally get in volved with the book could not put it down and did not want it to end hence the fact I read it over and over again,I am getting ready to read it again
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on 26 September 2012
A fitting climax to the trilogy, Ties up most of the loose ends while breathing love for the Land. Many tragic elements _ they do not all live happily ever after _ but it is convincing. The inherent contradictions of Covenant's reaction to the Land are resolved.
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