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 Floresiensis
John 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