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It was both with a sense of excitement and trepidation that I elected to read Stephen R. Donaldson's The Runes of the Earth next. This current series is The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. And it's been more than 2 decades since the last one. In the intervening years, both Covenant series have attained "classic" status. A rare feat in the fantasy genre. . .
Could it possibly live up to expectations? I have to admit that Donaldson set the bar rather high with the previous Covenant Chronicles. Truth be told, the bar could not have been set higher. Which is why I was apprehensive. Both Chronicles of Thomas Covenant figure among my all-time favourites. Shades of Star Wars Episode 1 drifted inside my mind, making me wonder if this new book would fall short. Because anything that did not live up to the high standards set by its predecessors would be considered a letdown.
Could Donaldson conjure up the magic that captivated millions of readers worldwide? Could he write yet another tale that would capture the imagination life few fantasy series ever could? Could he, twenty years later, return to the Land and cap off what has become one of the best high fantasy sagas ever written?
The answer, quite simply, is a resounding yes! Don't get me wrong. If you have not enjoyed Donaldson's Covenant books, this novel will not change your mind. I'm afraid that one either loves or hates Donaldson and his novels. There appears to be no middle ground when it comes to his work. I've always made that claim, and I'm not about to change my position. But for those who have enjoyed past Covenant books, then by all means jump on this opportunity to return to the Land!:-)
What makes this one so special, you ask? Well, everything! To begin with, Donaldson doesn't miss a beat. It's as if he never left the Land at all. Honestly, the author has such mastery over his creation that it's as if White Gold Wielder was published last year instead of 1983.
Just a chance to voyage through the Land once again is an exceptional treat. The landscape is as vivid as it ever was, the images it conjures up as magical. More than 3 millennia have passed since the Sunbane was neutralized. This book gives us the opportunity to rediscover the wonders of the Land, even if things have changed, sometimes dramatically.
Once more, this is a highly imaginative saga. This novel is in itself a somewhat vast introduction with a satisfying ending. But we catch more than a few glimpses of things to come, promising to make this series as interesting and captivating as its predecessors.
Vast in scope and vision, once again with a cast of three-dimensional characters, this book is unquestionably the work of a master. It's a feast for readers who crave high fantasy tales with depth and substance. As you read along, you get the feeling that this is truly something special, something that comes along only rarely.
My only complaint (which is always the same with a Donaldson novel) is that some of the dialogues don't ring true. Stephen R. Donaldson is probably one of the very best fantasy writers ever. His prose is superior to all but a few authors in the field. But when a simple villager possesses a vocabulary that would put an English major or a Ph. D. holder to shame, there's something wrong!
For all you fans out there, rejoice at the opportunity to return to the Land. The Despiser threatens the Arch of Time once more, and it's up to Linden Avery to find a way to stop him. But this time, Lord Foul has access to white gold, and Linden will have to face several challenges before she can even hope to succeed. The Land is not as she remembers it. There will be new allies, ancient foes and new enemies.
So return to the land of the Elohim, the Haruchai, the Ranyhyn, the ur-viles, the Staff of Law, the Ravers, and so much more!:-)
One word of warning, however. There is absolutely no point in beginning this series if you haven't read the previous two. If you have time to spare, reread the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I wish my schedule would have permitted me to do so. I'm persuaded that it would have made my reading this novel an even more wonderful experience.
The Runes of the Earth is the work of an unequivocal master of high fantasy, writing at the top of his form. This one has "CLASSIC" written all over it.
If you are a fan, this a book to own in hardcover. I cannot wait for the next installment!
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on December 13, 2015
I kept getting strung along by Donaldson to buy the last one coming up. I bought at least 3 final books and the guy writes another. The content kept getting weirder until I started to feel like the whole narrative was one big acid trip. Stick with the first 3 at least but do not bother beyond 6.
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on March 1, 2017
A good read. I've never read anything bad from Stephen.
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on April 11, 2016
I liked the last few books in this series almost as much as the original six. Worth reading if you're a Donaldson fan and enjoyed the first books, (which you should read first.)
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on May 27, 2016
cant wait to read it
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on October 14, 2004
It's a complicated equation: it has been 21 years since fans of Stephen R. Donaldson have been able to visit the Land with a new Thomas Covenant novel, 10 "real-world" years since an outsider has walked in the Land, and about 3,500 native years since the Land itself has seen an outsider. Now Linden Avery returns accompanied by 3 (or possibly 4?) others, including Thomas Covenant's mad wife. Once in the Land Linden must search for her son, who is threatened by Lord Foul--and Foul now has influence over one of two white gold rings that have come to the Land. Linden holds the other; it being the ring she took from Covenant when he died 10 years earlier. Sure, Covenant is dead, but that shouldn't worry fans--Donaldson has titled this "The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" for good reason. Through the course of the book we are reminded that the Law of Death was broken in the first chronicles, and the Law of Life broken in the second. Now it is the Arch of Time and the foundations of the Law itself that are in very real danger. To complicate matters, the Land is afflicted with a malevolent pall to rival the Sunbane and massive reality-storms known as "Caesures."
For Linden's return to the Land, Donaldson has marshaled many of the unique elements of the past six novels, reviving certain wonders that seemed to have disappeared forever from the Land. He also raises questions left open by the other books, questions fans may never have even considered. What ever became of the Ramen and the Ranyhyn, the ur-viles and Waynhim? What came of the Haruchai Cail's lust for the merewives? What use was made of the Staff of Law after Linden began the healing of the Sunbane, then left the Land? And perhaps most troubling is the transformation we see that has come to the Haruchai. Once known as the faithful Bloodguard and servants of the Lords of Revelstone, the Haruchai now occupy Revelstone themselves as "the Masters of the Land."
Donaldson has written a captivating novel to launch this 4-part series. The 90-page prologue delivers heavy echoes of the prologue piece to "The Wounded Land" and very effectively kicks off the story with a suspenseful edge. Once Linden has been transported from the real world to the Land, things slow down a bit. The rest of the book consists of two parts, labeled: "Part I: Chosen for this Desecration" & "Part II: The Only Form of Innocence." Personally, I feel that the first few chapters of Part I are somewhat loose and could have used some tightening to focus the events and drama of those chapters. However, the story soon recovers its pace. By Part II, Linden defines a quest for herself and her companions, and the unprecedented audacity of that quest is truly breathtaking. At the end of the book, this fan found himself savoring the last bite of a bitter-sweet cliffhanger and was hungry for more. Bravo, Mr. Donaldson. Keep the Covenant books coming--your fans haven't eaten in 21 years!
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on February 10, 2006
Growing up, his first two chronicles was read through many a time. In fact, his was the impetus which brought me to fantasy. Here in his latest work, I have to admit, I wasn't as excited about it as I had anticipated. Maybe I've just matured, or my tastes have changed, or he has I don't know. Now, prior to this I had taken a chance on new author Brian S Pratt's debut into the genre, The Unsuspecting Mage. And though it had a few rough edges, which is to be expected I suppose from a new author, the story was compelling and hard to put down.
It just seems many of the veterans are forgetting what it's like to be on the other side of the page. I personally read a book, not to improve my word capacity, but escapism fun. To just have a 'vacation' if you will from the mortal coils which bind us all.
Overal I'd say this work is 'okay' If you like his works, you'll like this one, but unless you're a die-hard fan, another may be better for you
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on June 23, 2008
Like previous reviewers, I started reading this book wondering if it could equal the previous 2 chronicles. Reading the prologue, I wasn't sure that it would, however once into the book I was swept away and found that Stephen Donaldson had pulled it off once again.
He is a powerful author who can pick you up and sweep you along into a plot you find impossible to leave. He has a knack of creating characters that you really care about and leaving you with a love for the land, which almost makes you wish you were there. There are more than a few surprises too.
I don't wish to say too much more, But I just felt that I should say that there will always be people that find fault in everything, but if you are a Thomas Covenant fan, then you will love this.
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on December 15, 2006
For a book which took twenty years to be written, this was very disappointing. In places, this story crept along like a beaten dog, desperately seeking somewhere to curl up and die; it is no surprise, and only mildly less disappointing, that the second book in this "final" trilogy has taken yet another two years, and still no word on if it will be published.
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on February 1, 2014
The very first book I ever read that wasn't required reading at school was "Lord Fouls Bane". I owe my love of reading to Stephen R Donaldson and "The Chronicles". This book is a welcome return to the land.
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