Book CoverBook Cover
Title The Wounded Land
Author Stephen R. Donaldson
Cover Art Michael Herring
Publisher Del Rey - 1989
First Printing 1980
Book Cover
Title The One Tree
Author Stephen R. Donaldson
Cover Art Michael Herring
Publisher Del Rey - 1983
First Printing 1982
Book Cover
Title The White Gold Wielder
Author Stephen R. Donaldson
Cover Art Michael Herring
Publisher Del Rey - 1984
First Printing 1983
Category Epic Fantasy
Warnings None
Main Characters Thoman Covenant, Lord Foul, Linden Avery, Sunder, Hollian, Brinn, Cail, Ceer, Hergrom, Pitchwife, Honninscrave, Seadreamer, the First, Vain, Findail
Main Elements Wizards, giants, demons

Click to read the summaryThe Wounded Land

Click to read the summaryThe One Tree

Click to read the summaryThe The White Gold Wielder

So when I finished off my review of the first trilogy, I ended it with - There is hope that Covenant has finally loosened up and will stop doing nothing but whining, manipulating, raping, complaining, having fits of madness, in the books to follow...

Well, yes and no. There's still a lot of whining, despair, but fortunately no rape and he's definitely motivated to get things done since this time around there is no one to push him. In fact he's dragging everyone else along with him.

But he still does a whole lot of taking all the blame for what happens to, well, everyone and everything. Frankly, if he really believes he is a nobody, he should also believe he can't be the cause, for good or for ill, for things that happen around him. He's getting a little better, knowing now that all this self-blame is what Foul is trying to accomplish in him, so he tries to fight it, but when he succeeds we get to listen to Linden Avery go through the same thing, GAH. At least we meet up with the Haruchai in this book, their solid reliability balances the helplessness of the main characters.

But, in spite of two super depressing main characters, I was really drawn into the story this time. Think about it. You visit a place at a certain period of time. Now imagine going back FOUR THOUSAND years later. You won't just be unable to find the people you once knew, you won't even recognize the place for what it was. The things you did 4 thousand years ago are now legends, not even history anymore, and warped, intentionally or not, from years of retelling. The people are different, the stories are different, the cultures and different, and of course, the Land is different. Covenant even experiences it differently, no longer able to judge the health of things simply by looking at it. It was very fascinating to read about Covenant, who had certain expectations about how the Land worked and not finding it the way he remembered, and Linden Avery, who is new to the Land and doesn't know what to expect at all.

The Sunbane was another particulary unusal aspect of the tale (as I was reading it in summer and sweating from the heat the term seemed particularly appropriate), especially once explained what it was. So don't worry if you get frustrated about nothing figuring it out, you DO find out. I guess to Donaldson's credit, his magic systems do make sense and the reader does get to understand it, even if it takes a little time to figure out what on earth is going on. In that we are no different than Covenant, or even than Sunder and Hollian who have lived their whole lives under the Sunbane, thinking they know it well.

I won't go into too much more detail, but if you made it through the first three books, it's definitely worth continuing with the fourth. You've probably built up an immunitiy to Covenant's endless self-deprecation and Donaldson's love of "Big Words". The guy must yank out his thesaurus every time he needs an adjective or adverb, and then when he finds a particulary obscure one he uses it over...and over...and over again... Looking some of them up the dictionaries indicate they are "archaic" and that'd be fine if it was the people of the Land using the words but its coming from Covenant primarily...And if you look up "Roynish" in the Merriam Webster dictionary online, you will see there are three comments saying where they found this word, and one of the three is the Thomas Covenant series...the guy does love that word!

Anyway, it's clear I won't finish the whole series by the end of the year (6 more to go) but maybe I'll make it through the Second Chronicles.

September 2014
..assailed by powerful forces whose sole purpose is to ensure the failure of their quest... That about sums up this book, which is why I didn't much care for it. I don't know, somehow discovering that there were all these other lands across the sea (which we knew about, the Giants came from one of them) somehow took away from the uniqueness of The Land which the story revolves around. And so there they all are, bobbing around in the ocean running in to various islands whether out of necessity or mistake, and somehow feeling like this whole adventure was an aside from the real story.

Plus a good part of it was from the point of view of Linden Avery. I kind of accepted Covenants moaning and groaning but now to have to deal with Avery doing the same ("oh woe is me, this is soooo hard, I just can't deal with it so I'll curl up in a ball and let everyone around me die even though I could save them all") was more than I could stand. When the first trilogy switched to Hile Troy, at least the guy was optimistic, he was a contrast to Covenant, but Avery is more of the same. Gotta love the Haruchai though, they are just so different, so not really human. We really can't understand their motivations. At least the Giants were there to bring some sanity and optimism back to the story.

Must admit they visited some strange and scary places along the way. If I didn't keep thinking the story would have been better focused on just the Land, I think it would have been an enjoyable diversion.

Well, one more to go, and they should be heading back to the Land to either save it or fail in the attempt.

November 2014
So I started this series under a Sunbane of my own, in the heat of summer. I finish in winter, as our hapless heroes struggle across an ice flow and battles monsters made of snow. How appropriate!

Unfortunately, while I was happy that the characters made their way back to the Land, both Covenant and Avery were at their self-deprecating best *sighs*. Good thing the Giants were there to lighten the mood from time to time, and to knock some sense into our two protagonists. Otherwise I'm sure they would have found a rock somewhere and sat there complaining for 400 or pages...

There were some positives though. You have no idea how many books I've read where our little nobody hero goes up against the biggest baddest power in the land and defeats him in two pages, somehow outwitting this being that's been in power for centuries, whom no one else could outsmart (let alone outfight) in all that time. In this book, Covenant had to fight a Raver, and just when you think they succeeded, you realize it was a trap and they have another battle on their hands. People die, and not just the nameless bad guys. For what its worth, the battle to save the Land was realistic in that regard and I had respect for Donaldson not going, "well, here's the big final battle, just wanna wrap this darn thing up and get it over with quick". There were no handy dandy coincidences like, "oh look, they left the front door open". They needed to be smart as well as powerful to defeat the bad guys, it was not easy.

Now I suppose there were some twists intended, or maybe we were intended to figure it out ourselves. I knew what would happen to Vain since the previous book. But Findail's purpose wasn't clear until the very end.

Now there are four more books to go. I'm curious, since they were written quite a while after the first pair of trilogies, if anything will be different. Will the writing style not be quite so over-wordy and repetitive? Will the main characters whine less and get on with it more? Writer's styles change over time, and I've been told Donaldson doesn't write his SF books the same way. Guess I'll find out soon enough!

Posted: August 2014


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