Stephen Donaldson

Stephen Donaldson portrait image to appear alongside the Stephen Donaldson biography.

Stephen R. Donaldson was born on the 13th May 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio. His father, James, was a medical missionary and his mother, Ruth, a prosthetist (a person skilled in making or fitting prosthetic devices). Donaldson spent the years between the ages of 3 and 16 living in India where his father was working as an orthopaedic surgeon. Donaldson was educated at the College of Wooster and the Kent State University, being awarded a Bachelor's and Master's degree respectively. Stephen Donaldson's work is heavily influenced by other fantasy authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Roger Zelazny, Joseph Conrad, Henry James and William Faulkner. Stephen Donaldson currently lives in New Mexico.

Stephen Donaldson came to prominence in 1977 with the The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, a story that centred around a leper shunned by society and his trials and tribulations as his destiny unfolds. These books established Stephen Donaldson as one of the most important figures in modern fantasy fiction.

The writers that Stephen Donaldson most admires are Patricia A. McKillip, Steven Erikson, and Tim Powers.

"I do suffer from a kind of "performance anxiety" that I associate with competing with myself. So many people enjoyed the first six "Covenant" books--and I've made them wait so long to complete the story--that I can hardly bear the prospect of disappointing them. In the long run, however, I'm more concerned about doing justice to the story. For that reason, I hope that my own expectations for myself are higher than anyone else's for me."

Stephen Donaldson books reviewed


The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

  • Lord Foul's Bane (1977)
    Covenant, a novelist and happily married man with an infant son, is stricken with leprosy and after having the last two fingers of his right hand removed he is taught that leprosy is incurable and that his only chance of survival is to reject all hope of relief. He returns to his home, Haven Farm, to find his wife has divorced him and fled to protect their son from his illness. As he struggles to go on living as a leper he begins to suffer bouts of unconsciousness in which he appears to have adventures in a magical realm known only as the Land, where he is greeted as a reincarnated ancient hero due to his missing fingers and his wedding ring of white gold, which is a talisman of great power. Covenant chooses to interpret this magical place as an hallucination and responds with Unbelief. The Land has an ancient enemy, Lord Foul the Despiser, who dreams of destroying the Arch of Time and the Lords of Revelstone seem incapable of defeating him. Both the Lords and Foul seek Covenant's allegiance to achieve their ends.
  • The Illearth War (1978)
    Thomas Covenant found himself once again summoned to the Land. The Council of Lords needed him to move against Foul the Despiser who held the Illearth Stone, ancient source of evil power. But although Thomas Covenant held the legendary ring, he didn't know how to use its strength, and risked losing everything...
  • The Power That Preserves (1979)
    Twice before Thomas Covenant had been summoned to the strange other-world where magic worked. Twice he had been forced to join with the Lords of Revelstone in their war against Lord Foul, the ancient enemy of the Land. Now he is back – to a Land ravaged by the armies of Lord Foul. The Lords are besieged and helpless. No place is safe and Foul’s victory seems certain. Only Covenant can avert it. Desperately and without hope, he sets out to confront the might of the Enemy. With him go a Giant, a Bloodguard and the madwoman he has wronged. And in Foul’s Creche, Lord Foul grows in power with each new defeat for the Land.

The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

  • The Wounded Land (1980)
    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...
  • The One Tree (1982)
    Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery flee from the Land, and embark with the Giants on a desperate search for the One Tree, the powerful life-force whose branches alone can re-make the Staff of Law. They leave the Sunbane-ravaged shores they know for a new world where awesome creatures attack them at sea – and strangely powerful new races both welcome and threaten them on Land. Lord Foul sends his Ravers to harry Covenant and all who help him. Before them lies the prize that can vanquish the Sunbane – or wreak the devastation that Lord Foul seeks…
  • White Gold Wielder (1983)

The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

  • The Runes of the Earth (2004)
    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 the very laws of nature. And though she believes Covenant dead, he keeps sending Linden messages: 'Find me', 'You're the only one who can do this' and 'Remember that I'm dead'. The Land is in turmoil, and Lord Foul has plans for them all...
  • Fatal Revenant (2007)
    Linden Avery watches from a balcony while Thomas Covenant and her adopted son, Jeremiah, ride desperately toward Revelstone. But their reunion has vast consequences which she could not have foreseen. Soon she is betrayed by the people whom she most needs to trust. Transported deep into the Land's past, she is forced to confront mysterious strangers, legendary heroes, and ancient evils, and to stand alone against the malevolence of the Despiser's minions. Abandoned in Garroting Deep, the most bloodthirsty of the Land's long-dead forests, she reaches a fearsome decision: she determines to reshape reality in an attempt to end the Despiser's evil and her son's suffering. However, her purpose requires her to find Loric's krill, a weapon abandoned among the Hills of Andelain millennia ago. And she needs the aid of friends and allies who will turn against her if she reveals her intent. Attacked by enemies old and new, and harried by strange beings with ambiguous agendas, she strives toward Andelain. But the ravenous skurj are rising, and all of her actions appear to serve her worst foes.
  • Against All Things Ending (2010)
    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 consequences of her efforts are more terrible than she could have imagined. Sorcery on that scale has awakened the Worm of the World's End: the ultimate end of all Time, and therefore of all life, has been set in motion. And on a more personal level, the results are no less extreme. The stress of reincarnation so many centuries after his death has fractured Covenant's mind. He cannot tell Linden where to find her son. And his leprosy has renewed its grip on him, inexorably killing his nerves. The Ranyhyn had tried to warn her. Now, plunged to depths of desperation and despair for which she is entirely unprepared, Linden seeks radical responses to the dilemmas she has created. Searching for Jeremiah, and accompanied only by a few friends and allies - some of them unwilling - she takes chances that threaten her sanity, forcing her to confront the Land's most fearsome secrets. Dreadful futures hinge on all of her choices, and she and her companions are driven beyond the limits of their endurance. Yet she still walks paths laid out for her by the Despiser, and his forces are ready...
  • The Last Dark (2013)

Mordant's Need

  • The Mirror Of Her Dreams (1986)
  • A Man Rides Through (1987)

The Gap Sequence

  • The Gap into Conflict: The Real Story (1991)
  • The Gap into Vision: Forbidden Knowledge (1991)
  • The Gap into Power: A Dark and Hungry God Arises (1993)
  • The Gap into Madness: Chaos and Order (1994)
  • The Gap into Ruin: This Day All Gods Die (1996)

It is believed that a speech his father made (whilst working with lepers in India) on leprsosy led to his creation of Thomas Covenant, the anti-hero of his most famous work (Thomas Covenant). Lord Foul's Bane received forty-seven rejections before a publisher agreed to publish the book.

Critical acclaim

... for The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

If there is any justice in the literary world, Donaldson will earn the right to stand shoulder to shoulder with Tolkien. Time Out

Magnificently sustained... millions of readers on both sides of the Atlantic rave about this series. Irish Independent

An irresistable epic... imagination, heroism and excitement, made all the more real by Donaldson's deft handling of the rich history of the Land. Chicago Daily News

Comparable to Tolkien at his best... a remarkable achievement which will certainly find a place on the small list of true classics. Washington Post