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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My heart may rule my head
Like some of the other reviewers, I first read the original 'Chronicles' some twenty years ago, during my teens, and for this reason, the first trilogy in particular is indelibly woven into some special memories I have of growing up.
I think I loved The Land as much as any fan. In a time still threatened by the Cold War, I was moved by the author's...
Published on 10 Feb 2006 by Andrew Dodd

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is he paid by the word?
The imagination is not far short of Tolkien's, the concept likewise, but the Covenant books get longer and longer. This one is close to 600 pages and the story is probably only half-way through! Furthermore, there's only a moderate amount of plot progression. Great tracts of the book are given over to Linden Avery agonising over whether she's doing the right thing, or...
Published on 19 Jun 2005 by Jim Pepin


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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My heart may rule my head, 10 Feb 2006
By 
Andrew Dodd (Bath, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Like some of the other reviewers, I first read the original 'Chronicles' some twenty years ago, during my teens, and for this reason, the first trilogy in particular is indelibly woven into some special memories I have of growing up.
I think I loved The Land as much as any fan. In a time still threatened by the Cold War, I was moved by the author's descriptions of a world of transcendant natural beauty where individuals were willing to make extreme sacrifices to prevent the triumph of Despite. And though I had read Tolkien and other fantasy classics, the anti-heroism of Thomas Covenant, his startlingly original character, his unbelief, pain and eventual salvation was compelling.
I explain my own background to the stories by way of explaining the title of this review. By sheer coincidence, I was halfway through re-reading the Chronicles for the first time in years when I became aware of the 'Runes of the Earth'. I was naturally thrilled but somewhat confused knowing that Covenant had died at the end of 'White Gold Wielder', but I couldn't wait to begin the new book, which I have just finished.
So why do I think my heart may rule my head? Firstly, I have obviously changed as a reader and I analyse Donaldson's writing in a different way to my teenage self. My perception is that his style has changed over the years and that his prose no longer has the same sense of grandeur and epic scale of the first Chronicles. Many people have commented on his tendency to overwrite and some people may find this off-putting. Against this, however, there is no doubt that he still has an enormously rich imagination and a great talent for fantasy writing that is strikingly original. Criticising his use of obscure words is rather like criticising the builder of a wonderful house for using the wrong type of mortar; it misses the effect of the whole.
The opening of the book is as taut and gripping as any top rate thriller writer, verging almost into the realms of horror and the macabre. It's a superb effort. Thereafter, my heart begins to take over once again. The central character of 'Runes', Linden Avery, was central to the Second Chronicles but still played supporting actor to her lover, Thomas Covenant. As the central personality of the new book, she doesn't dominate the reader's imagination in quite the same way.
Covenant's leprosy, his reponse to it, his treatment by society, his desire for vindication and reasons to keep on living; these attributes were the driving force of his Unbelief, which in turn was pivotal to the plot of Chronicles I and to a lesser extent, Chronicles II. Devoid of his presence, Linden's reasons for being in The Land and her motivations seem much narrower and less enobled. At a basic level, her son has been kidnapped and her responses to this crisis are both predictable but also by turns less convincing than the layered physical and psychological trauma of Covenant the Leper.
Finally, and this is just a personal lament, The Land itself has changed. Whilst Donaldson does a brilliant job at re-inventing his domain with new dangers and features, obliterating familiar landmarks in the process, it isn't the same place that I grew to love all those years ago. In this book, there is no Andelain, there are no Giants except in legends and too many human figures who do not really come to life as the original characters did. I guess the past really is a foreign country in that regard.
And yet four stars? Well, there is clearly much more to be unravelled in books II and III and it seems deliberate that 'Runes of the Earth' is less self contained than the earlier novels which were clearly defined episodes in their own right. This is clearly a cliffhanger (at times, it feels like the author is cramming significances for later use) so it would explain why some ideas or characters feel less well scoped right now. If you have never read the original Chronicles, you will still enjoy this book. Donaldson is a master of the fantasy genre and whilst this novel lacks the emotional force of earlier works, it is perhaps unfair to expect him to equal the starburst represented by his first three novels. If you read this, and like it, 'The Illearth War' or 'Lord Foul's Bane' will blow you away.
And ultimately, Stephen Donaldson's work has meant so much to me over the years, that I am simply grateful to be able to go back and revisit The Land in a new time and place. However changed or different it may be, that pleasure is ultimately worth four stars at the very least.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Donaldson: A return to surpass expectations., 2 Nov 2004
This review is from: The Runes Of The Earth: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Hardcover)
As,I'm sure many Donaldson fans would agree, the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant have captured the imagination of readers in a way only a handful of other fantasy novels have done. Critics have often argued vociferously that Donaldson's 'Chronicles' draw too much from the works of Tolkien: an accusation which I believe to be totally unfounded. Thomas Covenant is one of the most well rounded literarym characters I have ever come across. His fundamental human weaknesses create a wonderfully paradoxical air of reality in a novel based in a world of fantasy.
Like many fans, I faced Donaldson's return novel 'The Runes of the Earth' with extreme apprehension, but I have to say he has surpassed himself. If it were possible Donaldson has suceeded in adding a new dimension to the 'Land' that was already rich in detail and plausibility. He seems to have found the perfect balance between drawing from the first two chronicles and incorporating new themes and concepts. The lack of Covenant as the main figure to base the narration around detracts nothing from the novel. Furthermore, the subtle suggestions that Covenant is indeed alive tantalizes the reader and adds to the ambivalence of the novel.
I shall say no more! For Donaldson fans 'The Runes of the Earth' is a dream come true, for new readers the time has come for your initiation into a truly remarkable saga.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, 29 July 2005
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This is an interesting and intriguing continuation of the previous two trilogies, which I have read many times and much admired. Indeed there is much to be admired in this book too: fans will find the same luscious, lavish (or slightly overcooked, if you like) use of English here; I have to say that I'm slightly suspicious as to whether Donaldson really writes like this naturally , or does he write the basic story with markers saying "insert obscure word here" - I suppose we'll never know, but there are one or two places where the writing dips a little, where one would expect "Avatar" or another of his favourite words.
About the story, all I can say without spoiling everything is that Linden Avery returns to the Land alone, finds the "comeback king" Lord Foul up to no good and naturally begins a new quest to oppose him. This time, it's all very subtle, Lord Foul doesn't seem to be doing anything particularly dreadful, this time he seems to be relying on others to work his will. There are other evil powers mentioned in this book, eg Skurj... I would love to read more, and find out what they are going to do.
I suppose if I had criticisms of this book, it would be that it is a little longwinded, and not much really happens. And the biggest criticism is the (spoiler alert) time travel bit. It really doesn't seem necessary, serving only as a plot device.
Apart from that, I'm eagerly waiting for the rest of the series.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fanboys beware, 6 April 2005
If you've read the other chronicles - and if you haven't, don't buy this book until you have - you'll be familiar with 'The Land' and Thomas Covenant.., or at least you'll think you are.
Stephen Donaldson has taken everything he has written before and twisted it beyond expectations. The result is a fresh and very vibrant story that makes a lie of a lot of the original material and weaves a new perception of The Land. Oh the hallmarks of Donaldson's writing are all here; the depth of characters, the detailed almost poetic descriptions, the rich and sprawling scope of the story itself and of course the familar species and topography of The Land, but this story is not just another plod through familiar territory it takes new directions and liberties with characters and is a stunning reinvention of The Chronicles.
I guarantee, absolutely guarantee that the twist at the end will have any fans of the original deploring the fact that authors can't write as fast people read.
If you don't want your perceptions of the first two chronicles ruined, don't buy this book. If you want to see what a master storyteller can do to your perceptions with an amazing, well told, story.., buy it now.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth the Wait, 9 Jan 2005
This review is from: The Runes Of The Earth: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Hardcover)
Having waited years to see if Stephen Donaldson would return to The Land, I was beyond excitement when I saw that this, the latest in the series, had been published. I first discovered these remarkable books in my early teens, when raiding my mothers library, and was utterly hooked from the first page. Now I discover that it only gets better......I read this book from cover to cover in just under six hours and quite literally could not put it down. The only disappointing thing about it is the knowledge of the wait before finding out what happens next. Linden Avery emerges as a star in her own right, and once again the Haruchai (my favourite chrathers) are central to the story. Please, please read this book. You wont regret it. For those new to the Covenant novels, I would urge you to start at the beginning of the series, as references in this book to that which has gone before will only spoil the pleasure for you.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reunited!, 14 Nov 2004
By 
Stella (Tamworth, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Runes Of The Earth: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Hardcover)
Going into WHSmiths to find a new volume of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is like meeting up with an old boyfriend to find he still fancies you - and he's sexier than ever!
When I was 19 I discovered Thomas Covenant, and, believe it or not, read each volume of the original two trilogies in 6 consecutive nights. I couldn't sleep until I'd finished each volume. I managed to make the new volume last two days, but it was hard...
Donaldson has learned even more about the art of writing since the beginning: he has a little more economy of style now, pared down and practised with the Gap books. He still has a tremendous story to tell. The Covenant dilemma is about choice: how our choices affect others, ourselves and the world. Inaction is a choice in itself: freedom of choice is all. Respect for others; responsibility; guilt; honour; shame: these are the recurring themes.
The book itself is a thing of beauty: published on luscious thick paper with a beautiful illustration on the cover, it's a pleasure to handle as well as to read! I can't WAIT for the next three instalments. My life is that little bit brighter knowing they are to come.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave and Brilliant - Have no fears if you are a Fan, 1 Jun 2005
By 
Mr. D. Clark "londinius" - See all my reviews
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I approached this book with trepidation. I love the first and second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and I could see no way that Stephen Donaldson could match his former achievements. I need not have worried.
It is impossible to explain how Donaldson resolves the seeming finality of the ending of "White Gold Wielder " without giving away too much of the plot, so I shall just say that he certainly does manage this, and I did not feel that it was at all contrived in the way that it was done.
The opening section covering Linden's life back in 'reality' following the death of Covenant is absolutely gripping. Even without Covenant beside her she is an excellent focus for the reader, at once sympathetic, and yet unsympathetic, although not the same way that Coevenant himself is.
Without giving too much of the game away and spoiling the book, I would remind readers of the sense of difference between the land at the end of "The Power that Preserves" and at the start of "The Wounded Land " . Dondaldson pulls of a comparable tour de force in his depiction of the land as it is now, completely different again, and still totally convincing.
The same feelings of desperation and urgency which he evoked so well in the past are evoked in this book as well. LIkewise, the idea of a quest is at its heart too, which always paid dividends in earlier novels. The ending is remarkable, but I shall say no more about it for fear of spoiling it.
Its probably superfluous for me to say this, but I will anyway - do please read the othr six novels before embarking on this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow builder, but pays off, 6 Feb 2005
By 
Jason Mills "jason10801" (Accrington, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Runes Of The Earth: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Hardcover)
We're on familiar ground in this one, not only with people and places, but with old friends of phraseology: 'lambent', 'crepuscular', 'felt rather than saw', 'memories beat about her head like wings', etc. This stylistic continuity makes sense, but on top of this Donaldson still insists on peppering his work with Call-My-Bluff words that communicate nothing to most readers. If you can tell your thetic inchoate formication from your fulvous innominate inanition, good luck to you; but this reader is none the wiser for learning that an iron rod is "like a jerrid", or a woman's skin "the colour of spilth".
Linguistic idiosyncracies aside, this is a satisfying development from the previous books, with the far-reaching consequences of decisions made thousands of years ago still resonating in the unforgiving Land. Covenant only puts in cameos in this one, but Linden Avery has a lot more fight about her (thank god) and her determination drives the narrative. With a 100-page chomp of a prologue and very few characters until halfway through (a dozen, including all the bit players and a horse!), it's a book with a lot of groundwork. But this does pave the way for a terrific climax, with new revelations and confrontations on every page and a beautifully timed cliffhanger.
I was hoping for better after the extraordinary high trapeze of the Gap series. Like one reviewer below, I wasn't as emotionally involved as with previous books, nor is the Land's peril made visible enough; but I'm certain this is going to be rectified in later Acts. For now, it's a welcome, satisfying and very intriguing return.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A trilogy too far? Maybe not!, 1 Feb 2005
As with many people, I was somewhat confused to find "The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" had come out. Not because it is many years since Donaldson completed the Second Chronicles, but because Covenant died at the end of them!
That said, I bought the book, then decided to re-read the first six books of the series before picking this one up (it is at least 15 years since I read them!)
Nobody could accuse Donaldson's books of having simple plotlines, but the start of Runes of The Earth makes you wonder if he has just gone too far this time. We have Linden Avery, Covenant's widow and son, as well as Linden's adopted son. Then once we get to the Land, we quickly get almost all the elements you might remember from all the previous books. It almost seems like he is too keen to persuade us that this really does follow on, and that all the things you remember (the haruchai, ur-viles, the staff of Law, ramen etc.) are still there in the books.
However, the interesting thing about the book for me is that he resolves this into a coherent story, without it getting too contrived. It sure as hell is complicated, and there is a constant sense of bafflement, but this merely echoes Linden Avery's confusion, since so many of the previously simple rules of the Land are breached. This is no longer a forces of good versus the forces of evil. There are shades of grey here that pick up on the themes of the first six books and take them forward in concrete characters. You thought Covenant was a complex character? Wait until you meet Esmer!
If you have read the first six books and enjoyed them, get this. You owe it to yourself! Just don't expect it to be easy going...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Donaldson, 27 Feb 2005
By 
ROSS D J PILLING "Ross Pilling" (Bolton, Lancashire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Runes Of The Earth: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (GOLLANCZ S.F.) (Hardcover)
The chronicles are enriched as Donaldson takes the story forward and rebuilds the suspense so his fans appetites are suitably whetted and eager for the next instalment.The book is every bit as good as the previous instalments and does not dissapoint.5 stars are almost too few for this superb book.
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