13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Trilogy in 4 Parts
"Against All Things Ending" seems to be a bit of a marmite book - you either love it or hate it. In fact the whole Last Chronicles is a bit like that.
I have been reading & enjoying Covenant since the late 1970s. The first trilogy was astonishingly brilliant. The second was just as good. So I was looking forward to this latest (and last) trilogy. The trouble...
Published on 1 Dec 2010 by Greg
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There's some good news and some bad news ..
The Good News is that I finished Against All Things Ending, this morning. The bad news is that having waded through the first 2 books in this, the last chronicles of TM, I naively expected this to be the last book in the chronicles only to discover that there is a 4th book which will be out in a couple of years.
To echo other's sentiments, the first two...
Published on 6 Feb 2011 by atwr
Most Helpful First | Newest First
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There's some good news and some bad news ..,
This review is from: Against All Things Ending: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Gollancz S.F. S.) (Paperback)The Good News is that I finished Against All Things Ending, this morning. The bad news is that having waded through the first 2 books in this, the last chronicles of TM, I naively expected this to be the last book in the chronicles only to discover that there is a 4th book which will be out in a couple of years.
To echo other's sentiments, the first two chronicles were superb! SD's writing style was never a problem in the first two chronicles - in fact it was commensurate with the complexity of the story line. It was essential to build in the reader's mind, a detailed profile of all the characters which would sustain the reader's understanding of events to come and the parts each character had to play and the way they influenced the event outcomes. Much of these character profiles evolved as the "action" took place. This enabled the story to move along and maintain a balance between 1) something physically happening and 2) the thought processes and emotions of the characters involved. SD was polished in the writing of these two important facets and adept at integrating them in such a way that left the reader hungry for more of both. A testament to the success of this formula (or style) is the fact that I read the first chronicles in one weekend - for 2 days I was totally consumed.
As I approached the end of Against All Things Ending, I was beginning to feel self congratulatory. This is, I am afraid, a poor indictment on the book and to a slightly lesser degree the previous two books. I was thinking "I'm nearly there; I've finished it; I won't have to read ALL the books yet again to remind myself what has already transpired". The fact is - this was hard work! The only reason I stuck with it was out of some kind of loyalty to the previous chronicles and an increasingly forlorn hope that "it would come good"
In conclusion, SD's protracted and repetitive soliloquies damaged what would otherwise have been a very good book indeed. I can't begin to imagine what has caused SD to labour so, the emotional conflicts and self doubts of one, increasingly irritating Linden Avery. It is inconceivable that any of the characters in her motley crew put up with her for so long. In doing so however, we the readers were obliged to do the same.
Enough said. My deepest wish is that soon, a Bannor or Foamfollower character will enter SD's life and give him a gentle tap and convince him to "get a grip" (pretty much what I would have liked to have happened to Linden in this book).
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Trilogy in 4 Parts,
I have been reading & enjoying Covenant since the late 1970s. The first trilogy was astonishingly brilliant. The second was just as good. So I was looking forward to this latest (and last) trilogy. The trouble seems to be that it consists of 4 books. This means that each book is sonewhat slow & padded out. Read some of the other (very well written) reviews here & you will see that the consensus is that the pace is wrong, the book is too long & Linden features too much & is too busy self-flagellating.
However, it is still a Covenant book. The number of words which I have never heard before (a regular feature of all the Covenant books) is particularly high, making the meaning of some of the passages pure guesswork. But I can live with that. There are still bits where you despair of the characters & want to give them a slap - this is typical Covenant. There is a complete absence of humour - also typical Covenant. There are bits where you raise your fist in the air & shout "yes!" - unfortunately unlike the earlier series, they tend to be telegraphed in this one.
I still love the Chronicles. I will still read the last book when it eventually comes out. However, there is no doubt that the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant overall have been somewhat diminished by the Last ones. Sadly, in some ways I wish Donaldson had stopped at the Second Chronicles...
97 of 102 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh Stephen, what have you done?,
Although I couldn't say Linden Avery's ever come close to cracking my top 10 list of favourite Covenant characters, I've never been a hatah. Until, I'm sad to say, now. Sadder than I can express, actually, because ever since discovering the first and second trilogy at the same time, in the mid-80's (they screwed up my "O" level revision), the Chronicles have been my favourite set of books. Ever. And when I heard about the Last Chronicles coming along, well, I was a very happy chap.
The Runes of the Earth: great. Fatal Revenant: excellent. But now that I've finished reading Against All Things Ending I am, for the first time, wondering if Stephen Donaldson's lost his mojo. If you look on the US Amazon site you'll see a lot of reviews which express similar sentiments: Linden. Bloody Linden. Why is the whole thing about LINDEN?! And I agree with them. The *constant*, never-ending, repetitive, boring, circular self-doubt, self-hatred and whining. The almost wilful misunderstanding of people's motives. The need always to bring things back to me, me, me. I'm so wicked. I killed my mother. I watched my father die. I'll never live up to Covenant. Give. It. A. Rest.
At times Donaldson seems to have completely lost the feeling for his own characters - this quote from page 625: "What remained, except to pray that she and her friends had not made a terrible mistake by surrendering their fate to the Ranyhyn?" Oh, you think? Her reaction to Covenant's post-resurrection disorientation and pain? She sees it as a rejection of her, that she's been abandoned. "To hell with you" she even thinks, at one point. And later, "Covenant was still alive: in effect, Infelice had said so. Other issues were more important." The last time I looked, it was still the Final Chronicles of *Thomas Covenant*. She's what you might call an unreliable witness, so can't be objective about things - fine, but come on. She wasn't *this* bad before. She may have second-guessed (and even third-guessed) herself, but in this book she's just interminable.
Oh, and the Giants. Since when did they ever describe themselves using language not far short of "Heh! We're Giants! We're absolutely bonkers, us! You'd have to be mad to work here! We're ker-rayzee"? Joy in the ears that hear, certainly, but Foamfollower and the Search always reserved a fundamental, grave dignity. There was never the feeling that our current band are projecting of "hey, who cares where we're going? Who cares what we're up to? As long as it turns into a good story, right?!"
The best example I've seen of fantasy that ties up motivation, struggle (internal and outward), action and heart-in-the-mouth pace is The Illearth War. Go back and read it. It's majestic. When you stumble on the name of one of Linden's gang, trying to remember who is being described (because they're all similarly heroic and self-sacrificing), marvel at the way Donaldson managed to elegantly juggle Elena, Hile Troy, Mhoram, Covenant and Bannor. All different and distinctive, all memorable.
Three stars. A lot of good stuff (everything involving Covenant, basically), but several hundred pages of wallowing, self-pitying drivel from Linden Avery.
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The weakest link in a strong chain,
The main criticism, which has been much repeated, is how annoying Linden Avery's self pity, doubt and hatred is, particularly when it consumes such a large number of pages. To some extent,I agree with this: it's not a lot of fun and it undermines the credibility of the story to some extent - why does this character, who inspires such tedium in the readers, inspire such loyalty in the other characters? However, I think it fair to balance the criticisms with two other considerations.
First: lengthy, whingeing navel gazing is hardly a new feature of the Chronicles. Why should this be any different? Also, much of the criticism seems to be personally directed at Linden Avery as if Thomas Covenant had not filled hundreds of pages in his time with dour introspection.
Second: Linden is a developing character. This should be made clear by the symbolic transformation of the Staff of Law, even if you managed to miss the fact that this mortal, flawed and fallible woman has been under a spectacular degree of stress lately (how would you like it if you had to ba a character in a Stephen Donaldson book?). Such a deep transformation absolutley requires a long and deep inner process, and that, ultimately, is the purpose of all those tortuous pages.
The other most repeated criticism is about Donaldson's absurd vocabulary. Like, the navel gazing, this is a prominent feature of the landscape and if you really don't like it then I'm genuinely surprised that you've come this far. Besides, this is what dictionaries are for.
I have my own deep reservations about this book, which I have not seen voiced by others though.
One is that the theme of catatonic impotence is overused. Anele's madness is frustrating but it is at least interesting because of his veiled destiny and his vulnerability to possession. When Covenant becomes catatonic, there is some interest in his transition from timeless immortality to present mortality but the catatonia theme is already starting to strain. Then when Linden vanishes up her own *******(don't know what the profanity rules are for Amazon but I'm guessing I should be fairly discrete)it's just annoying.
The other theme which is over stretched is the deus ex machina (sorry, dont know what the proper Latin plural sould be). Every major action sequence involves a whole host of characters who seem able to sense events from far away in space and time and then either show up in person or otherwise influence events. To be fair, in some cases Donaldson handles this like an escalation between balanced forces like a well balanced chess game, but in general I felt that the super abundance of forces that transcend space and/or time placed a heavy burden on the narrative.
My third criticism is that much of the dramatic tension comes from the ongoing moral debates within and between characters, a good example being the debate between Stave and the Humbled, the outcomes of which determine much of the unfolding of the narrative. Indeed, it could be said that this theme is one of the main strengths of Donaldson's works. However, there are times when I feel unconvinced that his understanding of philosophy and of human psychology are sufficient to make some of these debates feel authentic. The characters make difficult choices, forever fearing to tread on ground where the Despiser has long since maneouvered them. The story approaches some interesting and deep ideas about which paths serve despite and which paths lead away from it but I feel less than convinced by Donaldsons arguments on this point.
My fourth reservation is that in terms of narrative coherence, I am concerned that in this story, much rests on the party trusting the wisdom of those who have already proven susceptible to Despite. What have the Ranhyn learned since Kelenabanal's futile sacrifice that qualifies them to combat Lord Foul now?
My fifth criticism is fairly minor. The parallels between Donaldson's works and tolkien's are easy enough to draw (disembodied malevolent adversary, magic rings, etc)and generally to forgive but I found the events on the bridge to be so reminiscent of the bridge at Kazad Dum as to be offputting.
My final criticism is that neither the 'What has come before' section, nor the glossary contains sufficient information for me to keep up with all of the story's characters. Like another reviewer, I started reading the Chronicles when I should have been revising for my GCSEs more than 20 years ago and I just don't remember some of the references that seem to inform this current plot.
But it must be said that this book has strengths too, and they are great ones. When, from time to time, something happens, the action is both electric and epic. As always Donaldson creates people and places of astonishing beauty, which are all the more moving when they are sacrificed: the fates of Liand and Elena particularly impacted me more powerfully than most fiction has the power to, indeed little has impacted me like that since the deaths of the giants in the Illearth War.
Finally I wish to emphasise that this book does not stand alone. It cannot. I can certainly say that this is the weakest book of Donaldson's that I have read (and I've read them all) but ultimately, I stand behind it and eagerly await the conclusion of a truly epic tale when I anticipate that the costs of reading this book will be amply repaid.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Linden Avery the despoiler,
Others have written accurate and true reviews, and I thought I'd add my tuppence worth.
Linden Avery utterly RUINS this series and especially this latest book in the series.
She ruined the 2nd Chronicles, and after reading The One Tree and White Gold Wielder I wished I'd never set my eyes on this rubbish character ever again, but alas, Donaldson has decided to give us an overdose of her in this series ((I think The Gap series was also ruined by a similar female character))
There is some action at the beginning of this book as it carries on from the previous one, and it flows nicely, (though still spoilt by Linden Avery) - the action comes to a sudden halt and then.......and then.....oh God!! I had to skim so much as it was worthless, useless tripe,...basically we find ourselves reading page after page after chapter after chapter of dung - Linden this, Linden that etc etc where nothing happens and all the characters act as if Linden and her whims and selfish desires and wants are the only important things.
And eventually near the end we're treated to blissful brilliant writing as it's ALL Covenant with Linden nowhere in sight!
That's what saves the book, the action at the beginning, the other bits of actions where things actually happen (rather than the other bits of action which weren't even worth putting pen to paper for) and especially Covenant - the whole reason to be reading this series for and whom the series is named after (though it should've been called "The selfish @$$##$$5!! Linden" - yes, Covenant and the brilliant last few chapters SAVE this book!
As a series, it IS worth reading IF you're a fan of the original and The Land.
The reader is treated to bouts of excellent story telling, and Donaldson's writing IS excellent (when he wants it to be), the reader is able to explore and find out more of the Land, it's history, characters, legends etc and this in itself is reason enough to pick it up and give it a star or two.
Roger is quite a character, as is The Harrow and The Theomach, we're also treated to others out of the lands past and it's all good thus far.
All of Covenants parts are excellent, but it all boils down to the fact that it all is ruined by probably the worst character I've ever come across in ANY genre - Linden Avery, I hope she ends up with the Bubonic Plague, Rabies and Ebola all at once right at the beginning of the 4th and final book and is done away with - that's how tedious, annoying, and utterly rubbish she is!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting to the end of an era,
Firstly, if you've never read Donaldson this is not the place to start. Frankly if you have its still not. For the first time I was pleased to have the "what has gone before" because I had to go back to remind myself who half these people were.
Secondly, it contains all of Donaldson's shortcomings. Its full of self loathing and depression, even the upbeat bits (although they are few and far between)are balanced by hardships. The pace is glacial - by page 400 I think we'd only esentially had three scenes
....and by god is there alot of talking. And yes Donaldson still wields words like others would wield a brickhammer. "Nitid" anyone?
But its pointless complaining in a sense, because that is exactly what we have come to expect (I actually use "condign" in everyday conversations now (sad but true)and you have to read it in that context.There is almost a comfort to it.
As others have said Linden Avery has become a caricature of "self loathing" and there is too little of Thomas Covenenant as the potential salvation of the Land.Some of the characters are unsatisfactory, but how can Donaldson ever write Giants as wonderful such as those from the first three Chronicles. And he is still able to introduce new characters that are complex and interesting.
But there's the rub. Despite the reservations (which go with the territory) it's still fascinating stuff. Sorry, but the story has now moved onto an epic scale with Donaldson bringing in characters and references and back stories from what seems to be the entire history of the land (I didn't know the lurker had a name, nor am I any wiser for knowing, but I trust Donaldson that I am being told for a reason). Unlike most of the doggerel fantasy over the last 20 years the Chronicles are, if nothing else, unpredicatable and it really makes me wants me to to get to the end to what I suspect is going to be a cracking end.
When the Last Chronicles started I questioned the need for revisiting the Land. But we are being led somewhere which might be slow to arrive, but I'm willing to trust is going to be a fitting end to all 10 books.
Four stars simply because it still hooks me and retains the capacity to surpise in it's scope. Not bad after all these years.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars still an epic despite the flaws,
Don't get me wrong Stephen Donaldson can at times be a very annoying writer as he is overly descriptive in a lot of his narrative and tends to use words that often need to be looked up in a dictionary (good for the brain i suppose) but this is just one of his known quirks and if you've read his books before this cannot come as a surprise.
I don't really understand why some reviewers are so unhappy about this book as presumably they've not read this one in isolation and so must be aware of his style of writing and as far as the story goes this one is definitely a page turner and i can't wait for the last one to appear to find out what finally happens.
There's especially a lot of negativity about Linden Avery too and yes i would agree that Thomas Covenant's character was/is more interesting but he's in this book too and back to his normal(?) self so i really don't understand what the problem is? This is truly fantasy writing at it's best and potential readers should not be put off by dissatisfied readers who prefered the original two trilogies, and again yes they were better but these later stories are still great.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too long?,
In fact, the only reason for my writing this is because as a result of reading other reviews here on Amazon, I very nearly didn't buy the book, despite having read all the preceding volumes! (Fortunately it was so heavily discounted, I couldn't resist).
All I would say is that if you are a Thomas Covenant fan, then stick with the story, and you will probably enjoy it.
I think the only truly justifiable criticism is that this volume is just too long, and could take some pretty hefty editing without detracting from the tale.
For some reason I thought that the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant was going to be a trilogy, but as I got towards the end of this volume it became ever more apparent that there was insufficient space to conclude the tale..... and lo and behold, I now have to wait for a fourth volume.
The cynic in me wonders whether the drawn out nature of the Last Chronicles is a straightforward marketing tool to generate more income...... the fan in me still wants to know how the story ends.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what it should have been,
The Land I will always love as in my opinion there is no other setting like it although it has to be said that a lot of my joy in reading about 'The Land' came from the people and how they interacted with it wether it be the Lords of Revelstone or the bloodguard, unfortunately there isn't much in the way of people interacting with The Land just lots of people discussing what course of action they should take next which normally runs something like this.....
Linden: What should we do now.
Everyone else: We don't know but as your the chosen one then you need to decide what we should set ourselves too.
Linden: I can't decide as everything I have chosen has ended in disaster Covenants the only one who knows what to do.
Everyone else: Covenants fallen into himself so you'll have to decide but no matter what were behind you 100%.
Linden: But I can't decide i'm full of despair (besides all I really care about is Jeremiah I can't really be bothered thinking of how we can stop the worm and the despiser)
Everyone else: Wait why don't we ask the Ranyhyn.
Linden: Good idea.
(The Ranyhyn show up and choose a path and destination for them)
Linden: (wait what if the Ranyhyn are wrong oh no!)
All in all of a 740 page book it feels like there's only the 40 pages where the plot is advanced the other 700 pages involve them sat around talking about what to do next and then perhaps a long journey and then back to choosing what to do next..........wait no some time is devoted to Lindens obligatory whining but then its back to the mundane task of deciding what to do next........so just 500 on what to do next (see it gets annoying covering the same ground again and again), the other 200 pages are reserved solely for making you absolutely despise and abhor Linden. I could probably take that if the other characters were interesting and well developed but they're not, the giants only seem to either issue one liners or look thoughtful there is no real input from them to the story unlike with the previous books. The Haruchai (and the giants too) are not developed enough, there is very little background nor meaning to anything they do and so it is difficult to distinguish between them and to be honest due to that under development I found it hard to care about them wether they lived or died, neither the giants or haruchai mentioned nor the ramen, Liand, Stave or Anele have any motive for facing the despiser and saving The Land bar because they want to help Linden.
Ultimately what i'm trying to say is that there is nothing endearing about the characters, nothing that makes you care for them which is a huge travesty considering the wonderful and warm characters of the first two books.
The one point that I had hoped would redeem the 'Last Chronicles' and get it on track was the resurrection of Thomas Covenant whom one would hope now played a key part in the book after all it is 'The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant,' thats what you would expect in a book about Thomas Covenant but no our supposed main character spent the vast majority of the book absent from proceedings due to the fact that he kept falling into 'fissures and schism's' in his own mind.........................perhaps to get passed the mind numbing boredom of having to witness the company trying to decide what to do next ;). Unfortunately it appears to be becoming 'The last chronicles of Linden Avery.'
There is at least some closure to a few of the sub plots though they all and most particularly that of finally learning why Anele is the last hope of the land, leave you going..eh? Is that it.
Finally just a quick word on the pacing of the book, its slow I mean real slow, at the beginning of the book the party were all discussing, wait you guessed it what to do next (and a nice heap of Lindens self loathing as well) for what seems like over a 100 pages.............oh wait it was for over a 100 pages.
It has been a somewhat harsh review but my love of 'The Land' and those people who inhabited it in the first two trilogies demand that I see this through to the end so I will be buying the last book when it comes out but if it is to satisfy and live up to what we all want it to be then it will need to be vastly better than this offering.
Oh and as a last note I know Mr Donaldson likes to use words most of us haven't come across before but this book is full of them and half of them I am sure he has just made up.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars torture,
This review is from: Against All Things Ending: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Gollancz S.F. S.) (Paperback)dear Lord, I dont think I can bear to finish this book and waste any more time on it! this book is way too long and much as I loved thomas covenant chronicles, this book is self indulgent! there are too many characters so that I now feel I must have alzheimers as I cant remember who is who anymore and I find even worse I dont care. What went wrong! Why on earth did his publishers agent whoever not rein in this overlong work! I,m 400 pages in and it has been torture!This work has got seriously lost and Donaldson needs to focus frankly or go away have a nice holiday and rethink where he wants this story to end! please god he drops the idea of 700 pages next time!
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Against All Things Ending: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Gollancz S.F. S.) by Stephen Donaldson (Paperback - 8 Sep 2011)