|Submitted by Bart |
(Oct 31, 2005)
When Covenant first drops into "The Land" from our real world I thought I could predict the rest of the plot in its entirety. He would be raised from his depression by the new, noble purpose of saving this beautiful alternate universe, and he would kick a lot of butt along the way.
How wrong I was.
Covenant does not shake off his depression. It gets WORSE! He treats the new world as a seduction that will kill him if he does not resist it. He does not kick butt. On the two or three occasions when he does try to defend himself, he either fails or is so swamped by remorse that he vows not to do so again.
This book left me with a feeling completely different from other epic fantasies. It is the loneliest fantasy I've ever read - Covenant is the only character in the book worth knowing, and the history and detail of "The Land" are of negligable interest.
But what makes it worth reading is the change Covenant undergoes. In the beginning his bitter self-hatred keeps him at least stable. Then after he is summoned to The Land he is suddenly rocked by the fresh possibility of hope, and he has to fight to keep his despair because it is the only thing that keeps him alive as a leper. This is why it's so original - an anti-hero fighting AGAINST hope. And Donaldson makes this struggle very real, even if his imagined universe is very fake and derivative (the main gripe of some readers). By the end of the book Covenant has prevailed over hope, even if he has reawakened his conscience along the way, and I felt this was the true resolution rather than the unspectacular battle and escape.
In all, a very original work but not the most "imaginative". If you're looking for fast paced action and heroics, there are much better exponents of it than Donaldson. But I recommend this book purely because Thomas Covenant is a character worth knowing.