The Runes Of The Earth: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook, CD
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Stephen Donaldson creates a constant tension that grips and won't let go. (STARBURST)
a superb fantasy read by British actor Anton Lesser (WATERSTONE'S BOOKS QUARTERLY)
The most important fantasy event this century: at long last, the return of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. Abridged edition. The CD has a fantastically enlightening, wide-ranging 15-20 minute bonus track interview with Stephen Donaldson and Adam Roberts.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The first series was really good. It was captivating, even if Covenant gets on your nerves (as I presume he's supposed to). The second series dragged on a bit, although it was nice to be back in that world.
Now I'm older. I seem to have lost patience and am more depressed, cynical, bitter and twisted myself ( :-) ) so I don't find the characters' annoying behaviour as entertaining as perhaps I used to.
Then I'm not really happy with the internal logic of the magic. In the Lord of the Rings Sauron puts a lot of his power into the ring. Then he loses the ring and becomes a puff of smoke. Over time he regains much of his strength and with the ring would become extra powerful. Ok, weird, but at least it's clear that destroying the ring would be bad (for him). And it can only be unmade in the same fire it was made. Ok, I'll trust Gandalf on that.
Spoiler non-alert: none of the following happens.
But what would happen if you were to stir a shard of the Illearth stone in some Earthblood and water from Lake Glimmermere with the Staff of Law? If it were to dissolve and the One Tree were watered with it, and a fruit were to drop from the tree and be consumed by the offspring of a Haruchai and Linden Avery, whilst in Andelain, what would happen to the Worm and the Arch of Time? I don't know—and I don't care.
I'd read a few dozen pages and was thinking to myself, "that's odd! He hasn't used 'crepuscular' yet. And bang! There it was on the next page. So that's the same as always.
In summary, If you liked the second series, I guess you'll like this one too.
My only criticism is that on this format there are numerous spelling errors and at times wrong words and name spellings. The does at times spoil the flow of the book and therefore needs to be rectified.
Thanks Stephen for a great read and creating characters that I have cared for.
Basically, the whole thing is simply tedious. The characters continually restate the plot and their relationships to each other - presumably intended to increase tension, but after a few dozen occurrences it just becomes mind-numbing padding. The worst instance is a single conversation at the start of the 3rd book that lasts over 120 pages, but there seem to be repetitive internal monologues of angst and inadequacy every few pages. There are still some flashes of brilliant writing, but one is so exhausted by the preceding drudgery that the pleasure of finding them is quite numbed. It would be a much better novel for being half the size - 3000 pages is far too long for the events it contains.
One gets the impression that much of the plot was based on a tick-list of characters aimed at bringing back the complete crowd-pleasing cast of
haruchai, stonedowners, ramen, ranyhyn, giants, lords, sand-gorgons, forestals, ur-viles, elohim, lurker, cavewight, raver, waynhim etc from every previous book. With the breaking of various laws it seems that even death is no barrier to having at least a walk-on part - even the illearth stone makes an appearance. About the only thing I didn't spot is repeated use the phrase "roynish barking" which previously seemed compulsory whenever the urviles appeared. It seems more like a cram-everything-in fan-fic homage to the originals rather than the work of the same author.
The time-travel element seems completely out of place with the tone of the other novels and is presumably there to allow the author to complete the tick-list of characters and enable more exposition regarding the origin of the lands various features and historical characters. Linden's various excursions to the past seem largely aimed at demystifying the back-story to the original books - quite deflating really since they fit much better with the fantasy setting as myths rather than step-by-step explanations of how things came to be. We really didn't need to know the story of the Guardian of the one tree, how Berek discovered Earth power, why the viles went bad etc - such things may be of interest to true Covenant completists but to those of us simply looking for an excellent story they're extraneous.
There are far too many deus ex machina episodes, often involving powerful pop-up characters who appear unheralded to offer some wisdom or perform a function then are disposed of once their role is over. Some use of these devices is generally acceptable in fantasy since the author needs to construct a background without a real world to provide context, but they are over-used ad nauseum here to the point where the main characters actions often seem to have little point because someone/something will drop in to either create or solve a problem for them. The ur-viles are a particularly ominpresent get-out-jail-free card, apparently tailing around after the main cast invisibly then uncloaking whenever a problem is seems unsolvable. One particularly delating occurrence is when, after being told for a couple of thousand pages how unstoppable sand-gorgons and the skurj are, both are wiped out cleanly in a paragraph by Covenant shouting mystic words. A similar things occurs earlier when the unbeatable demondim are demolished instantly by a pop-up character, and at various points both the escorting haruchai and giants are nearly wiped out only to have unexpected save-the-day reinforcements drop in apparently out of the blue. The cumulative effect of all these excursions from plot continuity is to remove any sense of buy-in one might have regarding the fate of the characters - leaving residual warm-feelings from the first two trilogies and gritted-teeth determination as the only reasons to finish the saga (when, alas, the finale continues in the same "Eh? What happened there?" disappointing vein).
If I had Linden's time travelling ability then I'd create my own caesare and send a "don't read these books" message to myself. The conclusion of the 2nd Chronicles was one of the most powerful endings in the fantasy genre and really needed no sequel - especially not one that falls so far short of that standard.
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