Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2008
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever start as unremittingly hard hitting and don't let up on challenging you until the very end where it is your own judgement of the main protagonist which will be challenged. Basically with this book think Crime and Punishment meets Tolkien with a surprise ending (not the one you're thinking otherwise it wouldn't be a surprise)!

So why is it like Crime and Punishment. It deals in depth with a man's guilt for his crimes and his self perceived failures as well as an internal dilemma that cripples him into inaction (without the Russian cultural backdrop that made that book a bit less accessible to me).

Why is it like Lord of the Rings? It's got enough history and social development to not feel like a piece of cardboard (without the weight of 100's of years of specific history and ballads). It's got magic users monsters a hero and a rather unfriendly big bad boss. It has beautifully envisioned scenery, battles and backdrops.

What's the sugar on top. Donaldson has added his own twist to the typical fantasy character types. There is an under riding but persistent theme of humans in symbiosis with nature. It touches on religion. Basically it has lots to pick up on a second and third read.

Why should you read it? Well it may teach you to judge people by different standards. It'll will expand your vocabulary! It'll give you several days of escape into a beautiful and well crafted world. If you want a piece of fluff with no depth there are things called films out there!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2003
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.
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).
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 24 April 2011
I took a leap of faith in purchasing this book as I knew nothing of Stephen Donaldson's work. However, I am a lover of fantasy fiction and was in need of a weighty tome to read. I am now as much a 'believer' as Covenant is an unbeliever and am keenly awaiting the Second Chronicles to arrive on my doorstep. Comparisons could be made to Tolkein in that this is a work of complexity and detail, epic in scale. However, the psychological depth Donaldson brings to the character of Covenant and indeed many of the characters is unparalleled. I admit that I struggled with much of the first book mainly because I laboured under conflicting demands of empathy for the main character combined with an almost palpable dislike of him. He is not a hero in the true sense of the word because he refuses to 'do the right thing' on so many occasions. However, his inner turmoil and pain are increasingly brought into the light of understanding during his return to the 'real' world where the terrible affliction of leprosy and the resulting burden of loneliness cannot help to draw you in. It sounds miserable but this is an heroic and gripping work simply because it grapples with powerful themes and combines them with a tumultuous tale of epic proportions. Msny of the supporting characters, not least 'The Land' itself, are finely drawn in many hues and depths. It's exciting, moving, beautiful and harsh in turn. Fantastic!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2007
I read The Hobbit as a kid, and LOTR later on, a lot of people are comparing covenant to those books and I'd just like to say before I get down to the review-proper that Covenant is completely different and significantly better.

I'm not a massive Fantasy fan but I've read some in the past and decided to read this on a recommendation from someone who knows much more about the genre than me.

INITIAL REACTION

At first the sheer size put me off, well over a thousand pages, and I doubted I'd finish, I'd inevitably get bored. The story didn't really grab me at first either, a leper in modern America struggling with being expelled from society by a base prejudice that hasn't evolved past medieval level - he's sympathetic but not massively engaging. But this effect quickly wore off as the story really got into full swing (about thirty pages).

LORD FOUL'S BANE

This is a fine example in world-building. The use of a normal person inexplicably catapulted into a completely abnormal situation is a clever way of providing a point of reference and also means that we don't ever get to know anything Covenant doesn't get to know, he needs this world explained to him and so do we. The story is good, though this is primarily about building the stage for the next two books' events it does keep you engaged and reading well into the wee hours to find out what happens next. This is a world where the forces of good are reliant completely on the almost incomprehensible wisdom of a long dead hero and the forces of evil are led by an ancient and experienced almost god-like commander (The Lord Foul of the title), when an incredibly powerful artifact falls into the hands of Lord Foul a brave few set out accompanied by our hero - whom they hold in messianic regard - to recover it before the land itself turns against them at the will of the artifact. This book also starts off the major character arcs of the series introducing Mhoran, Foamfollower, and of course Covenant himself.

ILLEARTH WAR

A good continuation of the story, set decades after the first book this chronicles the first full-blown military conflict between good and evil since the beginning of the age. The supernatural Ravers are leading enormous army of Foul and all looks lost for the forces of Good except for two small glimmers of hope - Covenant has returned along with his fabled white gold, and a genius military commander who claims to come from the same world as Covenant who may just be able to out-think what he can't out-fight.

This is the real meat of the story kicking in, with the war bringing chaos and bloodshed throughout the world of the novel and Covenant's character becoming even more complex and pressured. This novel pushes everyone to breaking point and gets into some much meatier character development than it's predicessor.

POWER THAT PRESERVES

This book is all about resolutions, all the character arcs come to a climax (including some you thought were over...), the thematic explorations resolve themselves, and the plot comes to its highly satisfying conclusion.

Covenant is pulled once again from his world by a desperate High Lord to aid the forces of Good as they face destruction at the hands of a renewed offensive by Foul, but this time he doesn't want to leave. Can he be brought back in time? Can Mhoram solve the mysteries of the Lords' power in time to save his city? Can Good ever triumph over an Evil this pervasive and apparently unbeatable?

I won't reveal too much of the plot if I can manage; basically if you enjoyed them this far the books do not disappoint and deliver a truly stunning ending to the trilogy.

CONCLUSION

These are highly enjoyable fantasy novels and work more like a single large book in three parts so collecting them in one volume like this is an excellent idea. They have a serious message about the nature of life and being, about what it means to be human, and about what it means to believe in ideals and in yourself, about the nature of consequence, the chance of redemption and the truth of forgiveness. A thrilling, epic and ultimately life-affirming experience that should be read by anyone and everyone.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2000
During the last month (January 2000) i've been reading this trilogy with great delight. This book has the usual fantasy content (giants, magic, etc), but is used in a very subtle manner, in order to make everything very believable. The trilogy revolves around a Leper (Thomas Covenant) who is transported to a world (called 'the land') in danger of destruction... He is thought to be the reincarnation of a long dead hero... but he doesn't believe in magic & reincarnation, thus he calls himself 'the unbeliever.' Book 1, 'Lord Foul's Bane' focuses on the quest for the staff of law, an artefact of great power, created in ages past, and the preceding events to reclaiming it. Book 2, 'The Illearth War' reveals more of the plot, the start of a power struggle for dominion of the land and its impending destruction. The final Book 'The Power That Preserves' Concludes the trilogy with the final battle between love and despite, finding out if Thomas Covenant will save or damn 'the Land.' On the whole i thought that this trilogy was one of the best i've read in a long time. However, the first book in this trilogy (Lord Foul's Bane) is very hard going, as it contains a lot of background, to build up the characters, but after you get about a quarter way through it, it becomes a non-put-downer! This will be one of my all-time favourites!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on 10 October 2002
I read these books as a teenager and loved them - they were refreshing and absorbing. The Land was beautiful and inspiring, something you couldn't help yearning after. The central character, Thomas Covenant, was conflicted, bitter, wracked and harrowed. His moral depths, his self-flagellation and what sometimes seems like deliberate perversity all combined to make him seem meaningful. The prose style was difficult, even tortuous in places, and the pages liberally scattered with unknown and interesting words. All this came together to make me feel that this series of novels was somehow 'deeper' than Lord Of The Rings or other fantasy offerings.
So, now I return to these books as a thirty-something and find that much of the magic is still there. The Land is GLORIOUS! Covenant's leprosy remains powerful for the reader and provides a striking set of images for the conflicts in the books. However, they seem a bit over-written and pretentious now. Both language and character are contorted and abused. The amount of self-hatred and self-analysis displayed no longer seems quite so deep and meaningful to me, but rather repetitive and self-indulgent. The obscure and unusual vocabulary which the author employs is still interesting but often seems used for no other reason than to impress, because there are many places where a simpler, cleaner style would have been much more effective. At times, Donaldson goes so far that he almost seems to be parodying his own style.
However, I want to stress that, while age and cynicism have made me less impressed with these books intellectually, they have not taken away the joy I find in the stories, in some wonderful and memorable characters and in The Land itself. Bear with them - they are rewarding tales.
44 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 30 November 1999
I have just finished the first series of the Thomas Covenant novels after reading the second series first and becoming totally imersed into the world. This rates easily among the top five fantasy series ever and is so good it breaks the 'bracket' of fantasy into general fiction. The plot is warmly developed, characters are so rich you can almost feel like you know them and the struggle within Covenant himself is quite beautiful to read. Alternately you sympathise with and rage against his view of where he is and how he copes. I think one of the most powerful things is his unbelief and the effect this has on him, after all he enters another world when we would accept he is in a dream state.
Power, Disease, Anger, Grief, It carries all these human concepts and develops them really well but more importantly it's a fine set of novels that may intially seem offputting due to their length but ultimately remward and enrich any reader.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 19 August 2005
I'm not sure what I expected when I started this first of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever--but I didn't expect what I read. The device of a character crossing from our Earth, our reality into a fantasy world has been done before and since, but this was different. Thomas Covenant didn't merely cross into some magic-ridden world locked into the Middle Ages--he crossed over into a vibrant and living place: The Land.
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, ;-).
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 31 July 2005
It's over 20 years now since I first read The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever - in that time I have probably bought half a dozen copies of Lord Foul's Bane as I kept lending them to people and never seeing them again. A couple of copies also dropped in the bath. I have read very widely of the fantasy genre and have yet to find any book or series that can compare with this one; and similarly no other author has had me virtually shouting at the characters when they reach any crucial decisions. It truly is a completely absorbing and powerful work. If you haven't read it - don't wait any longer.
This is an extraordinary piece of work - the only reason it gets 5 stars is you don't go any higher.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2012
Stephen Donaldson's fantasy saga contains all the hallmarks of the classic high fantasy novel. The hero is an ordinary person, plucked from obscurity and told that the world is in great peril. The adversary is a powerful sorcerer who wishes to control and dominate the world. The hero is endowed with a magical artefact, and sent forth on dangerous journey through a fantastic landscape, in which they are guided and protected by an array of charismatic allies, while they are hunted by the minions of the sorcerer, until they reach their the destination and confront their enemy.

For all the similarities with The Lord of the Rings, the tone of Donaldson's book feels entirely different. An anxious, uneasy tension runs throughout the trilogy. Thomas Covenant, a man mysteriously plucked from our own world, who finds himself in 'the Land', has none of the traits of a fantasy hero. He is selfish, thoughtless and cowardly; a poor shadow of the legendary Berek Halfhand for whom the imperilled people of Mithil Stonedown mistake him. At every point of the story, Thomas's actions disappoint the reader, in a way that is pathetic rather than comic. More so, Covenant suffers from leprosy, and the reader is made painfully aware that an ordinary or banal action might leave Covenant unknowingly injured.

Donaldson does not attempt to excuse Covenant's ethical shortcomings, and it is difficult to sympathise with Covenant, but the first person perspective places the reader in his position. The result is a tense and troubling novel that challenges the readers sensibilities. The tension is heightened by a lingering uncertainty as to whether the entire story takes place in Covenant`s imagination. For some people, it is too much, and they will despise the book as much as they despise Covenant.

Personally, I consider it a high fantasy of richness and quality. Donaldson is an elegant prose writer, and he can articulate the beauty and charm of the Land, the Land that may be imaginary, that may be real, that is in constant danger. The book is difficult and challenging, but innovative and imaginative enough to stand aside from the long shadow cast by Tolkien's work.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this item also viewed


 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.