Sunday, December 19, 2004

The New Steven R. Donaldson book

I just started reading the new Steven R. Donaldson book, "The Runes of Earth (the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant)".

Of all the Tolkien-influenced fantasy books, the Thomas Covenant series made the largest impression on my teenaged self. Rape, despair, murder, being a leper and a pariah in the community, it was heady stuff. (All right, I had a lot of angst as a teenager. Sue me) Looking back and remembering it now it seems overwrought, although I have occasionally gone back and read parts of the final volumes of each series.

I'm only a few chapters into the new book, and it certainly begins with a bang. I won't give away the plot except that it stars Linden Avery, the despairing doctor who fell in love with and was eventually redeemed by Thomas Covenant, and takes place 10 years after the events of the last series.

The one comment I wanted to make is that, beyond the surface Tolkienisms, one main underlying theme is the same in both series, which is the evil of despair. If you've ever read Tom Shippey's two books of Tolkien analysis, "The Road to Middle Earth" and "J.R.R. Tolkien, Author of the Century", you will know that that was one of the most important themes of the Trilogy and of the Hobbit. Donaldson uses more "modern" idioms to get this point across, but it's interesting that they have such a similar theme.

I recommend it for those who enjoy epic fantasy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

excilent novel can't wait for the 2nd