Against All Things Ending by Stephen Donaldson
Book of the Month
Against All Things Ending, is the third of four books in The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.
Stephen Donaldson’s’ “Thomas Covenant” books are not an easy read, at times they leave you feeling uncomfortable, at other times they leave you in tears, they are epic in breadth and the corner of ‘The Land’ that the characters are occupying is brought to life in amazing detail. I really think his books are the closest fantasy equivalent to Marmite (insert your own vegetarian variety if required); you either love these books or you hate them. There is not much middle ground.
This is a hefty tome, 700+ pages; the book starts with 18 pages about what has gone before in the first two chronicles, and then the first two books of this series. You can probably just get away with reading the summary and starting straight off with this book, but if you enjoy it you will need to get all the earlier ones. This is not a light and fluffy book. You might need to sit down comfortably, with a decent dictionary at your side when you step into ‘The Land’. Stephen Donaldson challenges you with his erudite writing and you cannot rush through the pages, it’s a hard but rewarding read.
Neither the hero nor heroine, Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery are made of your typical hero material. Linden is rather single minded and seems to be sacrificing everything to get her son back, and will stop at nothing to do this, and Thomas is a leper in our normal world, who in one of his first confused acts upon entering ‘The Land’ in the First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant became a one- time rapist who has since, at various times, sacrificed all and has now become part of the Arch of Time to keep ‘The Land’ safe.
This, the third book begins with Linden Avery - who is pulling ‘The Land’ apart to find her adoptive son Jeremiah - dealing with the aftermath of dragging Thomas Covenant back into the world of mortal men. It does not help that along with him comes The Worm of the World’s End, which will eventually lead to the complete destruction of the Land.
This book is quite hard going at first, the characters seem to be at a loss as to what to do to sort out all the problems and look as if they are going to be overwhelmed, but slowly they get their acts together and start to fight back against the forces allied against them. I found myself getting distracted quite often in the first 100 pages or so and found too many reasons to put the book down (damn you Twitter). But once you put all other distractions aside and settle down to share ‘The Land’ with Linden and Thomas the book comes alive. The tension builds up forcing Linden to accept the far reaching consequences of her actions, and there is a lot more at stake then she at first thought.
When they finally split up (Linden to try to save her son from the monster literally at his throat, and Thomas to try to resolve the wanton destruction his ex-wife is inflicting upon ‘The Land’ in her blind attempts to strike out at him) the tension levels and the action really picks up.
Some of the characters in this book are just plain scary, they are so dedicated to their cause its unnerving. There is no way to hide from the fact that some of the groups of characters like the Haruchai act with a fanatical outlook, and they cannot be swayed from their course.
I think I’ve made this sound a bit to dark, but it’s true, there are dark places in this book, and the characters do go through bad times, but through it all there is hope, and essentially it’s Lindens love for her son and Thomas, and Thomas’s undying love for Linden that cause this story to become what it is. Any sane person would have just given up but their love and utter faith in each other keeps Linden and Thomas fighting with every breath in their bodies.
The worse thing about the book, well I guess that’s the fact that we now have to wait for the last book, to finally find out what happened to The Land and possibly her most faithful servant Thomas Covenant.
Score out of 10. 11 and 7, when I am in a light mood and not really concentrating on the book then it’s hard to get into, but when you can settle down and give this book the time it deserves then it’s off the chart. You are left out of breath, waiting until the 4th and Final Thomas Covenant book appears.
This Against All Things Ending book review was written by Stephanie Gelder
All reviews for: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
The Runes of the Earth
The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Book 1
It's ten years later and Linden Avery thought she would never see the Land, or Covenant, her beloved, again. But Lord Foul has stolen her adopted son, and is unmaking t...
The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Book 2
Fatal Revenant, Book Two of The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, begins where The Runes of the Earth ended: Linden Avery watches from a balcony while Thomas Covenant and...
Against All Things Ending
The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Book 3
Desperate for help to find her adopted son, Jeremiah, Linden Avery has resurrected Thomas Covenant in a cataclysmic exertion of Earthpower and wild magic. But the consequen...
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Against All Things Ending reader reviews
David Jackson from Wiltshire
I agree with Jules and Sue, Stephen seems to have got lost in a thesaurus these days - I thoroughly enjoyed the original Thomas Covenant series and so did a few friends of mine that I recommended the series to much later. I cannot recall having a similar problem to that of Joe's with Lord Foul's Bane, but I did with AATE, so much so that I speed-read the book from about 1/4 the way through just to finish it. I'll still get the last volume just to complete my reading of the series, but I just hope its not too drawn out and too full of the self-pity and loathing as in AATE.
Jules from Croyden
As the third book in the third series and the penultimate book of the whole set Donaldson by now should have settled on a style that is consistent and satisfying to his die hard fans (who, lets face it, have been patient in the extreme in waiting 20+ years for the third series to come out). Alas he is still playing games with his writing and in the last three novels has almost completely abandonded the rich storytelling nature of the first two series. Instead we have been given an almost continuous internal monologue of existential angst boardering on self-loathing and pity in the extreme. No wonder people struggle to like his main protagonists as they do. Gone is the colorfull land of giants, lords and Haruchai, to be replaced by an almost unending landscape of grey desolation (both internal and external). By the end of AATE one has lost all empathy for the Land, it's inhabitants and it's erstwhile saviors. The last book, due in 2013 is entitled 'The Last Dark'. I'm afraid I turned out the light about half way though this book!
Sue from Denmark
I don't necessarily think it is either love or hate with Thomas Covenant and the series. I like the books, but I do find them flawed. Nobody can make a character credible like Stephen Donaldson and I appreciate that he does not shy away from letting his protagonists suffer some REALLY dark times. However, I do think he has a tendency to draw out both his prose, the symbolism and the story itself. I become distracted and even bored frequently. If he could rein in his meanderings I think I might eventually love Thomas Covenant. But now I'm not.
Joe from England
It's true when I first read Lord Foul's Bane I constantly looked up words in the dictionary but once my vocabulary grew Ir really began to enjoy the later books in the series. The first chapter of Against All Things Ending is truly Epic. Although athe moment I'm actually looking at analysing Stephen Donaldson's style of writing. The analysis is on my blog: www.metacybernetics.com. I've compared the first chapter of Lord Foul's Bane to the first chapter of Against All Things Ending. I'll be posting a fuller review of the book after the linguistics analysis. Joe
6.7/10 from 5 reviews
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