|Submitted by Sean M |
(Nov 15, 2004)
In Runes of the Earth, Donaldson blasts back to the Land with a vengeance.
It's another ten years later, and Linden Avery is now the head of a psychiatric hospital. To this day she has done her best to care for Thomas Covenant's insane wife, who, when not catatonic, repeatedly tries to beat herself to death. Linden has put the Land behind her, but has taken the lessons she learned from it to heart. She has learned to live, and love her adopted son, who was also damaged by the events of the earlier story.
This all changes when Roger Covenant turns 21, and re-appears out of boarding-school obscurity as a menace to her peace. He demands that his damaged mother be delivered to his custody, and he wants his father's ring back.
What ensues is a terrifying, thrilling opening to the new series, and what appears to be the new ethical question--how do you chose between a world you love, which may or may not need you, and a person you love, who desperately needs you?
For Linden's son is also being kept hostage in the Land, somewhere. And while the faithful Haruchai and the Ranyhyn are back, intent that Linden is again their Chosen savior, she is only concerned with rescuing her son, whom she believes to be in the hands of Lord Foul.
Repeatedly, Foul tells her that every step she takes toward her son will ultimately doom the land. In this first installment, Linden ploughs through her adventures in the Land as if they were old ground. She is a much stronger person so far than she had been during her last visit, but the hints are that this strength and determination are going to cost her, or the Land a dire price.
The Land, this time is reminiscent of how it was on both of the previous series. The beauty and health has returned since the fall of the Sunbane, but it is still polluted and somewhat corrupted by mysterious forces that keep it's peoples' blind to health.
Also, terrible time-altering tornadoes touch down here and there, menacing the Land with destruction. There are definite hints that it's not Foul's doing at all, and the story promises that more adventures with the Elohim are afoot.
I liked the book. It wasn't what I would call captivating, (except for the first few chapters, which were absolutely rivering) Once Linden gets to the land, it's more of the same. Which is not to mean bad, because the 'same' was always great. But there's nothing new. You'll spend the first half of the book trying to find out what's changed, and the rest waiting for what hideous dark menace must approach, but not much has changed, and no horror the Author dishes out comes close to topping the menace that Roger Covenant made you feel at the start. (But of course, there's still plenty of tale to tell, four more volumes worth.)
You finish the book with the fear that Linden is dangerously overconfident and lucky, and that things are surely going to get much darker soon.
One of Donaldson's main, and more infectious, themes-- is the tragedy of damage. Everywhere you read him, you are confronted with damaged people, damaged souls, damaged space-ships, damaged castles, damaged armor--damaged Lands.
Look forward to a good damage-healing story in the rest of the series.