The Illearth War by Stephen Donaldson
Thomas Covenant finds himself once again summoned to the Land. The Council of Lords needed him to move against Foul the Despiser who holds the Illearth Stone, ancient source of evil power. But although Thomas Covenant has the legendary ring, he doesn't know how to use its strength, and risks losing everything...
Let me begin this review by making something clear. If you didn't like the first book, Lord Foul's Bane, then it is very, very unlikely that this second instalment will change how you feel about the series. I think that the main issue many readers' have is with Thomas Covenant himself, as he is a very difficult lead character to support on his quest. But this was done purposefully - Donaldson was challenging the tired and formulaic genre that fantasy had become. And so Covenant, whose happy existence has been torn apart, and whose actions upon entering the Land will forever be difficult for both he and the reader to come to terms with, is very difficult to like, even if the reader is able to either sympathise or understand to any extent. None, certainly not Covenant himself, will ever forgive him for some of the tings he has done but as Donaldson continues his narrative the author begins to show us his humane side, so that we are at least able to understand - if not like - his behaviour and his actions. And this is what sets these books apart from others of their generation - it was published at a time when it was the knight in shining armour that rode to the rescue, not a diseased rapist.
The Illearth War is an excellent continuation of the Thomas Covenant series, consistently compelling and full of great battle scenes. Those who enjoyed Tolkien's The Two Towers will be in their element here as similarities can be found with the epic defence of Helm’s Deep as the Land’s forces face almost insurmountable odds in the form of an army fuelled by hate, and changed by the dread powers of the titular illearth stones. To reiterate something I said above: If you loved, or at least liked Lord Foul's Bane then you will almost certainly feel the same about The Illearth War. However, if you hated, or thought little of the first book then this book is not going to be changing your views. After all, how much can the style of a trilogy change book by book? I, for one, loved the first book more on re-read and so found book two even better second time around too. Recommended, this series is deserving of its fantasy classic tag.
This The Illearth War book review was written by Floresiensis
All reviews for Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever
Lord Foul's Bane
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever: Book 1
He called himself Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, because he dared not believe in the strange alternative world on which he suddenly found himself - the Land. But the Land...
The Illearth War
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever: Book 2
Thomas Covenant finds himself once again summoned to the Land. The Council of Lords needed him to move against Foul the Despiser who holds the Illearth Stone, ancient sourc...
The Power That Preserves
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever: Book 3
Twice before Thomas Covenant had been summoned to the strange other-world where magic worked. Twice before he had been forced to join with the Lords of Revelstone in their ...
The Wounded Land
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever: Book 4
Four thousand years have passed since Covenant first freed the Land from the devastating grip of Lord Foul and his minions. But he is back, and Covenant, armed with his stu...
The One Tree
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever: Book 5
Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery begin their search for the One Tree that is to be the salvation of the Land. Only he could find the answer and forge a new Staff of Law - b...
White Gold Wielder
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever: Book 6
Thomas Covenant knew that despite his failure on the Isle of The One Tree, he had to return to the Land and fight. After a long and arduous journey, fighting all the way, h...
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The Illearth War reader reviews
Anthony from Norwich
The ultimate anti-hero is back and as grumpy as ever! Not an easy central character to get behind but Donaldson makes him sympathetic enough so that you care about what happens to him. Over-lapping stotylines converge into a gripping finale that leaves you eagerly reaching for The Power That Preserves.
9/10 from 2 reviews
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