The Wounded Land by Stephen Donaldson (Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever: Book 4)

After Stephen Donaldson had completed the three books that made up The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant he had absolutely no intention whatsoever of writing any more stories featuring either the same character or setting.

"I had - and have - no interest in repeating myself. But I had an editor at the time (Lester del Rey) who believed in fungible fiction: create something worthwhile and then repeat the same thing forever - or until it stops selling, whichever comes first. He refused to accept my complete disinterest, so he bombarded me with plots for the books he wanted next: plots which were all either trite or ludicrous or both. Eventually he sent me a suggestion so bad that I thought, 'This is absurd. What I really ought to do is…' And before I could stop myself, I had come up with the ideas for both The Second Chronicles and The Last Chronicles," the author recounted in a 2012 interview.

And so I smiled when I opened The Wounded Land and saw a dedication which read, "For Lester. He made me do it." And I am very pleased that he did, for I was left wanting to learn more about the people, the Land and its history.

What I do not want - as a reader - from a series of books is for them to become repetitive. Not do I want to feel that the author and publishers are simply riding the gravy train for as long as it is financially beneficial. Thankfully Donaldson had both the skill and imagination necessary to keep the story as full of life and as compelling as it was in the original trilogy. He also has an obvious love for that which he has created and as such would never publish anything that would tarnish his earlier work.

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 stunning white gold magic, must battle the evil forces and his own despair...

I believe the success of the Covenant books lie in their ability to make the reader care about what happens to the two principal characters: Thomas Covenant and the Land. If readers are like me in hoping that Covenant becomes more than he was when the series began, and hope that he may find peace, possibly even love and a cure for his leprosy, then they will find that this forms an essential element to the drive that keeps them reading, in the hope that this eventuality comes to pass. But there is also the Land with which our hearts are held as it is a thing of rare beauty which unfortunately becomes less so with each instalment. The Wounded Land finds it a pale shadow of the near utopia that Covenant first encountered forty centuries earlier, it is a land ravaged by the Sunbane, an evil deformation of the sun that inflicts harmful and extreme weather conditions upon everything its rays touch. And it is in Covenant's ability to remedy this ill that we pin our hopes, and it is this which keeps us reading and reading. Can Covenant find a way to restore the Land to its former glory and perhaps a morsel of happiness for himself.

All that those who read and enjoyed the first trilogy wanted for this new instalment was for the same high standards to be maintained. And The Wounded Land not only keeps the standard but lifts it a little higher. As I turned the last page I instantly reached for The One Tree, which promises to be a tale nautical in nature, which should prove to be a breath of fresh salt air for the series.

10/10 Sophisticated reading for an adult audience.

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2 positive reader review(s) for The Wounded Land

Stephen Donaldson biography

The Wounded Land reader reviews

from Huddersfield, England

I agree with Brien. The placing of this book as the highest of the covenant series at number 58 is laughable. I read and lived through Tolkien's works at the precocious age of 13. I felt saddened that 'the journey' had ended and looked around for something comparable to fill the gap. Virtually all the books I tried were of the type rated so highly on this site - embellished swords and sorcery pulp - written and read by shy introverts of limited literary ability and na�ve ignorance of basic human characterisation depth. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant broke through those limited 'fantasy' conventions with such invention and audacity that I suspect the average fantasy reader was left far behind. Perhaps a rating of 58 from such reviewers is a back-handed compliment of the highest order. If you've not read the works of Homer, Shakespeare's tragedies & anything by a woman called Bronte. then of what value is your opinion?
8/10 ()

from Wichita, KS

The Thomas Covenant books should be rated a lot higher than how this website is rating them. These books are literary masterpieces and should be treated as such. I do agree, however, that these are not for the faint of heart. That is what makes them so great! You would be hard pressed to find an anti hero like Thomas Covenant in any other Fantasy works.Great series, if your an adult who can get into some dark fantasy, give these a shot!
9/10 ()

8.9/10 from 3 reviews

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