Book Cover
Title The Runes of the Earth
Author Stephen R. Donaldson
Cover Art Michael Whelan
Publisher Penguin - 2004
First Printing Penguin - 2004
Book Cover
Title Fatal Revenant
Author Stephen R. Donaldson
Cover Art John Jude Palencar
Publisher Penguin - 2007
First Printing Penguin - 2007
Book Cover
Title Against All Things Ending
Author Stephen R. Donaldson
Cover Art John Jude Palencar
Publisher Penguin - 2010
First Printing Penguin - 2010
Book Cover
Title The Last Dark
Author Stephen R. Donaldson
Cover Art John Jude Palencar
Publisher Penguin - 2013
First Printing Penguin - 2013
Category Epic Fantasy
Warnings None
Main Characters Linden Avery, Thomas Covenant, Lord Foul, Stave, Anele, Liand, Jeremiah, Galt, Clyme, Branl, Mahrtiir, Pahni, Bhapa, The Madoubt, The Harrow, The Ardent, Ironhand, Esmer, Kastenessen
Main Elements Wizards, giants, demons

Click to read the summaryThe Runes of the Earth

Click to read the summaryFatal Revenant

Click to read the summaryAgainst All Things Ending

Click to read the summaryThe Last Dark

It's been exactly a year since I started the series that I got to the first book in the final chronicles. It was quite the effort to get this far, at times the series was good, but mostly the whining of the characters and the author's writing style made me want to give up.

But there was a big gap between the end of the second chronicles and the last chronicles, and during that time Donaldson's writing style changed a bit. No longer does he look up the most obscure and archaic adjective in the English language and use it over and over again for the span of about five pages and then never use it again. No, now he sticks to plain old modern English, which was a relief. Not saying he dumbed the writing down, he just picked words most people actually know!

And Linden, while still having some inner struggles (as all characters must) is much stronger since her previous experiences. She doesn't know if she will win, but rather than sit in a corner and moan about how her life sucked, she's at least willing to try to save her son, and the Land in the process.

So I'm very happy about how this third series is shaping up and looking forward to the remaining three books.

March 2015

Well I spoke a bit too soon. While the second book, Fatal Revenant, was very interesting, with many perplexing mysteries to resolve, I spend most of the time wanting to smack Linden on the back of the head. I can't go into details without spoilers, but if you get something back, but aren't allowed to touch it, at least you got it back!!! It's not like its the end of the world if there are some restrictions, plus the restrictions are temporary. I mean grow up woman, put your big girl panties on and deal with the situation, be happy with what you've got. There are a lot of people who would give a lot just to be able to talk to someone they lost, even for a few minutes, even if they couldn't touch them. But oh, woe is Linden, that's not good enough for her, she can't have her cake and eat it too and she spends two-thirds of what was a very complex plotline whining and moaning and completely taking away for what was otherwise a really fascinating and challenging read. Sigh.

Anyway, I'll keep reading, after all there are only two more books to go. And for what its worth, the world building, the complexity of the plot, the annoying yet tantalzings hints the other characters drop, those are all wonderful. These books could have been so much more! But seriously Donaldson...were you trying to write for a young adult audience? Nowhere else have I seen so much self-deprecation going on. NOWHERE! And I've read a lot of fantasy. I mean Bella from Stephanie Meyers Twilight series seems more mature and capable than Linden and Covenant are at times, and I'm talking about a girl that fell in love with her stalker here!

June 2015

So the angst continues, and I understand that that is the facet that Donaldson is examining by this series, but it comes off like a guilt contest. Linden goes "So-and-so died because of me" and then Coventant goes "But if I hadn't done such-and-such, then you wouldn't have been in the position to cause so-and-so to die, so it's actually my fault", then Linden goes, "But if you go back farther, I caused to you to..." etc. And then there's the Haruchai who point out that you deny the sacrifice so-and-so made by taking all responsibility on yourself and not accepting that so-and-so made his/her own choices of their own free will. But of course, why would anyone listen to something so sensible...and so we trudge on through pages and pages of guilt and angst and it gets rather repetitive since its the SAME guilt and angst being covered over, and over again. These people are broken records...

However, I still have respect for Donaldson's worldbuilding and not making things easy for the characters. I mean there is about a dozen villains going wrong all at once, at least five of which are world endingly bad. And I love how Donaldson doesn't make things easy. I mean a rescue doesn't involve just the effort of finding the person, they then need to get him out of the place they found him, then free him from the control of another being which required the attempts of at least three people before they succeeded.

And yes, there were times when everyone is sitting around gathering their strength and a couple days pass even though you know the end of the world is about to happen and you want to yell at them to hurry it up...but if you can barely move, you aren't going to be able to fight, so in that sense I found it very realistic. Not like in many other novels where there characters take a huge beating then jump up and strive on. Physical bodies need rest, no matter how bad the situation is. However, I will admit that the "few days" they were warned about was rather more than that, at which point you feel that the urgency is just there to add suspense to the story, but as time passes, you feel like they've really got all they need, that the plot will just work itself out, the reader no longer worries since those "few days" are now stretching into "weeks".

Anyway, looking towards the last book in the series! A whole year and a half in the making!!

Oh, and I don't think I mentioned the covers...I love them! The artist selected secondary characters and none of the main ones, even one of which is more or less a villain. I thought that was rather unique.

November 2015

The amount of whining and complaining is at a minimum (for Donaldson anyway) since the characters are too busy fighting for their lives to spend too much time dwelling on the past, so if you made it this far, keep going!

For all its faults, Donaldson still created an amazing world that felt real, and the story itself was never lacking in surprises. With what felt like a million foes still to conquer, and few pages left to conquer them in (and remember, Donaldson takes plenty of space to have the character bemoan their fates, and allow the Giants to tell tales) I wasn't sure how exactly it would be wrapped up. I figured it would be one of those disappointed cases of a couple pages where the company runs into the big bad guys, has a brief fight, and then win without effort. But it wasn't, the climax took time, it felt like a real fight (except for Roger, that one went too easy and unresolved). In fact I'm not really sure they did win...or they did, but only after they lost...or well, not sure what to call it, and that's a good thing. It was unexpected. And I guess that's what kept me reading even when I got sick and tired of Covenant and Linden complaining about how they weren't good enough, and rehasing the same scenes from their past over and over again...because the rest of the story was compelling. And there is something to be said of making the point that we can gain strength from our weakness, that we must confront our past to create our future, and that it isn't easy to divest oneself of one's baggage, in fact it never really goes away.

As Covenant repeated many times, to defeat Lord Foul one must do something unexpected. And while another author might have tried that, it often comes off contrived and unbelievable. However here the unexpected solutions of the characters in this story made perfect sense.

So I started this journey in February 2014, it almost took me two years. And now, aside from one short story, it's at an end. It wasn't a completely conclusive end. Not every foe was destroyed, the pieces haven't been all put back together, but then a real story never has an ending. As life goes on, so do the ripples of what we've done. I don't know if I'll ever read them again, but it was definitely worth doing so once, and perservering right till the end.

Posted: February 2015


Background, images and content (unless otherwise noted) are SunBlind
Do not use without permission.