The Power That Preserves by Stephen Donaldson


And so to an end came my re-read of the first trilogy in the Thomas Covenant chronicles. And I must say that it won me over in a way that it didn't first time around. I can put this simply down to the fact that I am much older, was able to appreciate the skill of the writing and, perhaps most importantly, I now have a vocabulary that is sufficiently full to enable me to make sense of the hundreds of underused words that Donaldson frequently throws at you. I'm not saying that you need a thesaurus to make the most of the Thomas Covenant books but… Wait a minute, yes it is, that is exactly what I am saying. My vocabulary is now a richer place for having re-read these three books.

Readers like myself, whose enjoyment of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings was a major reason why we became such fantasy genre lovers, will encounter many similarities with Tolkien's masterpiece, and that Donaldson was heavily influenced by it is no secret. I must stress that this is in no way a criticism; an author paying homage to their influences is something I like and it must also be stressed that Donaldson brings so much of his own unique talents and vision to the stories that the blend is perfect.

These books have, unlike others written so many years ago, aged well. The prose, while perhaps too flowery and overwrought for some, is undeniably a triumph; an example of how rich and textured the English language can be when used this well. But the thing that shocked me most was that I actually began to warm to Covenant as the end drew near… Not an easy thing to do.

In The Power That Preserves Thomas Covenant is once again summoned to the Land by the Lords of Revelstone in their time of need. It is unlikely (and not recommended) that any will read the third book having not read Lord Foul's Bane and The Illearth War first. And those that have will already be well acquainted with the anti-hero that is Thomas Covenant and his suffering. Covenant is not an easy character to like and you may have spent a lot of time during the first two books wanting to shake him by the shoulders but thankfully he does, slowly, grow on you and as the book reaches its climax you really do hope that he can save the Land and find some lasting peace.

This novel is responsible for bringing to an end an trilogy and this is does very well. Loose ends are tied up and we discover what becomes of characters like Lena, Elena and Triock. It is a suffering Land that meets Covenant when he return seven years after the events of The Illearth War, the giants have been destroyed and an unnatural winter covers the Land; Mithil Stonedown is  no more what it once was and Lord Foul's minions are wreaking death and destruction wherever they go.

The Thomas Covenant Chronicles are deep, sophisticated novels written in a very complex yet beautiful way. The Power That Preserves brings to an end a trilogy that was very important for the fantasy genre, being the most complex work since J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and a series that kick-started a new era and a new wave of fantasy authors. A must-read for a fantasy fan; but be warned! These three books will not be the easiest you have read, but the reward is substantial.

Review by

All reviews for Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series

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 [...]

More Stephen Donaldson reviews

The Runes of the Earth

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 [...]

Fatal Revenant

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

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 [...]

The Last Dark

Compelled step by step to actions whose consequences they could neither see nor prevent, Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery have fought for what they love in the magical real [...]


The Power That Preserves reader reviews

from Cumbria

I thought that the series on the whole was great but was dissapointed by the ending. It really didn't work for me and I was left feeling slightly let down and for this reason did not go on to read the second chronicles. To expand a bit, the ending felt rushed and I got the impression that the author himself was not sure how to end it. Also, I did find the narrative a battle but one that was worth fighting as the descriptions of the land and some of the characters introduced were nothing short of excellent.

8.1/10 from 2 reviews

Write a reader review

Your rating out of 10

Books you may also enjoy

The Gunslinger

by Stephen King

In The Gunslinger, Stephen King introduces readers to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellb [...]

Series: The Dark Tower series: Book 1
Published: 1982

Score: 100

Our rating: 9.6 | 4 positive reader reviews



by Will Elliott

Aden awakens naked in a bath tub, knowing only that he is dead. His new world is Nightfall, a place filled with characters bizarre, grotesque and magical: Julius the duke, [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2012

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.6 | 0 positive reader reviews


The Oversight

by Charlie Fletcher

Only five still guard the borders between the worlds. Only five hold back what waits on the other side. Once the Oversight, the secret society that polices the lines betwee [...]

Series: Oversight Trilogy #1
Published: 2014

Score: 96

Our rating: 9.5 | 1 positive reader reviews


The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

by Claire North

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the kno [...]

Series: NA
Published: 2014

Score: 94

Our rating: 9.4 | 0 positive reader reviews