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Against All Things Ending: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (Gollancz S.F. S.) Paperback – 8 Sep 2011
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Stephen Donaldson returns to the internationally bestselling story of Thomas Covenant and The Land in this awesome, cataclysmic adventure
About the Author
Stephen Donaldson has won the World Fantasy and John W. Campbell Awards for his internationally bestselling fantasy novels. He has also written SF and mysteries. He lives in New Mexico.
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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).
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...
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