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I never read a book twice, until now; I have read this series time and time again. It has been described as comparable to Tolkien's Lord of the rings; it is certainly as good if not better. You will find that the characters are deep and develop which each of the books. I couldn't put it down as the drama unfolds with many twist and turns. It wouldn't be fair to go into the plot and spoil it for anyone who has yet to discover this treasure.
You find yourself completely drawn into the plot. Thomas Covenant isn't the most obvious choice for a leading role and you have as much doubt in him as he does himself at times. You go through the highs and lows with him at times you find yourself feeling sympathy for him the next you want to scream with frustration at him. He's not the romantic, powerful confident character we are usually presented with and is at times somewhat lacking when compared with the other participants in the saga. For once there is tale where the hero isn't so heroic and his actions aren't always without consequences that cost others dearly as well as him.
I bought this book when it was first published and couldn't wait until the next one came out. There are now several more chronicles and I am still as enthralled as I was in the beginning I would really like to give a more detailed résumé but I don't want to rob the reader of the wonderful experience of discovering this world for themselves and the emotional ride that awaits them.
When I first read this book and series - in fact shortly into the first book, I nearly put it down and binned it! Now I have never thrown a book away, those that I start and don't get on with end up in the loft for some long-distant day when I need a new book to read or for the kids. So thinking such a thing took some doing. The reason was the hero of this tale, or rather anti-hero, a certain Thomas Covenant. Now this may be a review, but I don't want to spoil things, so this is my review of how the book feels to me - I want you to read it, so I'll try not to spoil it by giving the whole story away!
The story starts with 'our hero' and his depressing life as an outcast resulting from his condition, leprosy, the treatment of those around him, and his reaction to that treatment. It's a difficult start, but you get through it and feel yourself lifted out of this dire world (along with our anti-hero) of 1980's small-town USA, to a glimpse of a new world from on high.
There is an almost palpable relief getting to this new world, that as a reader you welcome; but for our hero he cannot accept it, and sees it as a trick or dream - a theme that cuts accross the whole series, and is core to the story. His lack of belief colours his behaviour, and very early into this 'new world' he commits an atrocious act, that for me nearly made me put the book down. It's not that I can't read about such stuff - that's not the problem; it's the fact that the central character appears so unlikeable and capable of such acts you don't feel like spending any more time with him.
Luckily I persevered, and the intelligence of the story, the importance of his attitude and acts both at the start and throughout, make this story one of the best ever written. It is darker than Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time series, and even George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire. But that darkness is lightened by other central characters who balance Covenant so well, and battle constantly against his unbelief.
The fantasy world created by Donaldson, with the constant backdrop of the pragmatist anti-hero and link to our own world, is immense; and that link to our own world works so well, and deepens your belief of this new world. It's almost as if, by recognising that our world and this new world exist side by side in the story, the writer is able to draw the reader (who knows they are sitting at home, in bed, on a train or wherever reading this story) in, so much more effectively - knowing you are in this world, and the writer recognising it, creates a neat link for the reader - well it did for me. This link grows in later books, but I'll leave that for you to discover.
By the end of the series, you feel an understanding of the anti-hero, and even some understanding of what he did and why he did it - no mean feat and a testament to the journey Donaldson takes you on, through the land and with Covenant as a man.
It's a hard book and series to read - not the narrative, but the emotions you feel when reading it - but it is so worthwhile, and you'll find it difficult to put down. I have read whole the series at least 6 times.
The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is one of those series that once you pick it up you can't help but finish it...and equally one that you will come back to time and time again...actually, in that I lie...to begin with the book is infuriating for reasons I will explain, but once you get past that you won't be able to put it down...I came across them purely by chance as with my recent difficulties I haven't been able to get access to any of my own books so have been nabbing other people's...and this series has me in it's thrall...
I cannot see why Dooyoo has lumped all the books together in one series, considering that there are three different trilogies here and each book is different with time spans between them, and to review them all would mean a stupidly long review that no one would ever read and I'd never finish. For this reason I have elected to review only the first chronicles of Thomas Covenant...and even so - Apologies for the stupidly long review - but if Dooyoo does insist on lumping all the books into one category...
Title: The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever:
1. Lord Foul's Bane 384 pg
2. The Illearth War 400pg
3. The Power that Preserves 416 pg
Author: Stephen Donaldson
Price, Paperback: Now the price I have on the back of the books I am holding is 2.50...however this is highly unlikely to be still true! The RRP price is 6.99, however you can find them on amazon for 1.45.
Publishers: Fontana Books
ISBN: 1. 0904002470
Genre: Realistic Fantasy
The basic of the story is that you have an ordinary man, as far as ordinary goes, in a modern America who is suddenly thrust into a new world simply called 'The Land' that is thrown into peril by the enemy Lord Foul the Despiser (ok not amazingly original names but that isn't the point). So far this seems to fit with many of the stereotypical fantasy novels; I mean you have your hero - Thomas Covenant, you have your powerful enemy - Lord Foul who wishes to destroy everything, your minor enemy - Drool Rockworm who solely wants power, you have your mystical land which is far from the cruelties of the realistic world, this land is in grave peril and only the hero can stop disaster from occurring, sound familiar? Well, no actually...because there is a twist, and a fairly major twist at that, which is all to do with the main character. You see, if I asked you to describe the stereotypical hero what would you say? Answers I've had from most include: Tall, dark, handsome, strong, selfless, giving and usually with a minor fault which the enemy can use against him. And here's the problem - Thomas Covenant isn't any of these, in truth he doesn't have a minor fault - he is a fault, through and through. Thomas Covenant is a leper. Which means the only way he can survive day to day life is by being selfish and looking out only for himself...but this makes a good victim, it doesn't make a good hero which is one of the reasons the narrative is so gripping.
In each of the three different books a different plot is played out but equally it is the same plot, the first two lead towards the final epic battle in the third but all the way through the outcome is not sure, there is a confusion over whether Covenant was summoned by the Creator or Despiser or neither for that matter and so it is all up in the air; as the 'blurb' to the books states: 'Three times, in their hour of greatest need, the peoples of the Land will summon him to their aid. Three times, as their reluctant leader, he will fail them.'
In the first book Covenant learns he has been summoned by the evil Cavewright Drool Rockworm who wields the power of the Staff of Law and is under the power of Lord Foul the Despiser. Lord Foul prophesies to Covenant that he will destroy the land in 49 years and sooner if the Staff of Law isn't recovered by the Lords and sends Covenant to deliver this message. Covenant is then found by a young girl called Lena who cures him with a mud called hurtloam, this also cures his leprosy. Except this isn't possible. He lives on facts, it is the only way for a leper to survive, and he knows that 'nerves do not regenerate'...so to accept the reality of the Land he believes he would lose the ability to survive. He is Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, whose only real belief is that the Land is a dream. Because of his leprosy he has lost his wife and child, and yet he still keeps his white gold wedding ring, and it is this that is the power in the land, the white gold holds the power of the wild magic, which is the only way for the land to break free from the tyranny of Lord Foul...yet Covenant has to find out how to wield the white magic. Hailed as a hero in the Land by most, the Land's people want only to help him with many sacrificing lives and sanity to aid him in his quest and yet still he won't believe.
The curing of his leprosy also restores to him his sexual drive which was destroyed by leprosy, this leads to the rape of Lena, the young girl who found him and saved him, and around this act many of the later consequences hang, this is an act that haunts him all the way through the books both in his mind and in the actions and reactions of other people. The novel goes on to describe the journey to the Lords and their reactions to this prophecy with the main focus being on Covenant. An interesting issue is the bargain he makes with the Ranyhyn, who are wild, free, intelligent horses, in order both to free himself and to try to make some form of retribution to Lena. All the way through sacrifices are made for Covenant, the question is, Will he live up to them?
In the second book several weeks after his return from the Land Covenant is yet again summoned to the Land in the middle of a phone call with his ex wife Joan, again the reality of the world is disputed, but whereas Covenant has only aged a few weeks, 40 years have passed in the Land. There are interesting side topics such as the fact that the High Lord at the time, Elena, is the daughter of Lena and the product of Covenant's rape which show the value and pain of forgiveness against others who can not forgive and are consumed by it...However, during the 40 years Lord Foul has put together an army which the Lords cannot hope to stand against, and once again it is Covenant who has been called to try to save the day. The Lords Army is led by Hile Troy, a man also from Covenant's world, who has no eyes, yet the health of the world has allowed him to see with his mind. This book follows both Hile Troy and Covenant who have two very different perceptions of the world; Hile Troy believes in the world and would do anything for the place that brought him sight, whereas Covenant is still the Unbeliever. Hile Troy's battles against the living army are followed and accounted whilst at the same time the quest for knowledge that Covenant is taking with the High Lord is also followed, with two epic battles taking place at the same time but on very different footing...
The third book shows Covenant still trying to believe that the Land is just a dream, but failing miserably, and being back in the real world his leprosy is in full flow...he is summoned again by the High Lord and for them 7 years have passed and the lords are once again in utter desperation as Lord Foul has grown ever more powerful. However when Covenant is called he refuses the summons in order to save a young girl in his own world from a snake, however in doing so he greatly weakens himself and accepts another summoning from two other characters, one Giant friend, and Triock who loved Lena with all his heart and was devastated when she was raped, again the earlier rape sets a spin on the characters and the story. This is the final book, and the final quest, and the outcome of the choices Covenant makes will affect the Land forever. This book also finalises a lot of the philosophical points made in the earlier two books such as questions on the Creator and Despiser, which will be explained below under 'religion'. The final choice Covenant has to make in the very end stages of the book says a lot about the nature of Covenant and the nature of his unbelief.
Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever: I have already said a fair amount about this character but there is more that is worth mentioning. The main point that Donaldson seems to stress is his leprosy, this would have been pulled greatly from his own experiences in India where his father worked with lepers. The main characters leprosy is a large cause for his attitude and behaviour, Donaldson clearly spells out the medical, social and emotional results of this disease. For Covenant to survive in his own world his life is full of constant vigilance of his own health and regular medication, without this he would die, but equally in his own world he is treated as a complete outcast, the people shun him because of his disease and this has led to a deeply ingrained selfishness and a need to survive on his own without anyone else. The effects of this shunning are clearly shown in his behaviour in the Land as he pushes away any who try to help him - 'Outcast! Leper! Unclean! Don't touch me!' - the walls he builds around himself are stronger than any fortress as he isolates himself from his own world that shuns and hates him, he refuses to believe in the reality of the land where leprosy could be cured and nerves regenerated because this would mean he would be unable to function in the real world, and generally acts in an aggressive and thoughtless manner - thinking only of his own survival and not of the effects on other characters. As you go through the novels the character slowly becomes more likable, but particularly at the beginning he is more of an anti- hero than a hero. And Covenant's disease cannot excuse some of his early atrocities; his raping of a young lady who has helped him early in the first book nearly made me put it down out of sheer revulsion...all the way through the novel he remains cynical, sarcastic, rude, violent and should be a generally unlikeable character...but somehow, you get to know him and understand him...you gain both sympathy and respect back for him...he is a 'real' man which is more than you get from most heroes, and his motivations are complex.
The Haruchai: A race of warriors that serves the Lords, they refuse weapons or magic as they believe fully in their own physical strength and the purity of their service to the Lords. They are shown to be almost emotionless yet it is also seen that they are a race that are willing to swear a lifetimes service if moved enough by the cause. The most important of these commitments is to the Lords and started 2000 years before the beginning of the book, the Old Lords refused to meet them in battle for fear of destroying them and instead gave them gifts. The compassion of the Lords moved the Haruchai enough to swear a vow of eternal service, to protect and serve the Lords. This led to 500 Haruchai becoming Bloodguards who are more or less immortal; they do not grow old, they never sleep and they never see their former friends and family. If a Bloodguard dies and his body is sent back he will be replaced by another, but if his body is not returned he will not. The most important in the novel is Bannor, who is set to protect and serve Covenant no matter what he says and does, his strength and quick reactions repeatedly saves Covenant, and even with the lack of emotion that is shown by him the style of writing means that you cannot help but sympathise and try to understand him.
The Lords: The Lords and stewards of the Land, the training is strict and so the Lords are few and powerful - those who master the training but will not be held by the Lords vows are called the Unfettered. The Lords strive together to save the land. I think the one main failure of these novels is the failure to truly develop the characters of the individual Lords, they are almost used as a backdrop for Covenant's exploits, often not as people in their own right.
Ranyhyn: These are the great horses of the land, they are far superior to any normal horse. Differences involve size, the star on the forehead, and are enhanced by the power of the Land, speed, endurance, intelligence. They are free beings and are only ridden by those whom they deem to be worthy of riding them, who travel to their homeland and offer themselves to the Ranyhyn. If you are accepted by a Ranyhyn then it will be loyal to you forever; there does appear to be a strange ability to hear the call of a rider weeks before it is uttered so they can be there in time for the actual call which is not something that is explained fully.
The reality of the Land - there are great lengths taken in the novels to ensure that is just as plausible that the Land is a product of Thomas Covenant's disturbed mind in the real world with many events signifying his unconscious struggles. One very early question asked in the book is the Fundamental Law Of Ethics: "do actions performed in dreams have any significance?" Covenant's actions throughout the novel towards the land can be seen as part of this struggle between reality and dream, and even at the end you are not sure - do his actions show that the reality of the world is definite, or do they just show that no matter whether reality or dream the Land holds some significance for him...
Psychological symbolism of the Land: Much of the Land's symbolism is shown in Covenant and much is important. The life giving vitality first shown when Covenant is transported that heals him of his leprosy, Covenant is filled with self hatred and loathing which is paralleled by Lord Fould the Despiser, and the disease of leprosy that literally eats away at him and ravages him is shown by the effect the Illearth Stone has on the people that wield it's mind.
Shown quite obviously in the contrast between the Creator and the Despiser, however some of the references to both lead to interesting religious assumptions. The basic myth was that the Creator created the world within the limits of time, which he could not pass, however after making it he found the Despiser lurking in his and through him down to the Land. Since that time the Despiser has haunted the Land. Some interesting points however:
First: Time and the Creator's inability to step into the world and make changes because he is outside of time and so cannot interfere, the Despiser however is free to cause whatever havoc he so chooses because he has been thrown into the limits of time. His main aim however is to destroy the Land so he can step outside time and battle the Creator. This is a long standing solution to the problem of suffering and it shows the thought and complexity of the books that Donaldson has produced, but it also shows that these are not light hearted books to read. He is giving at least one solution to the question of how the Despiser is able to wreck such havoc on the land while the creator sits back and watches.
Second: The contrast between good and evil, light and dark, and the idea that one cannot survive without the other is an interesting one. They need each other as much as they are the enemies of each other...
Third: Free will. The Creator states that Covenant was chosen for the task and yet: 'There was great hazard - risk for the world I made - risk even for me...I risked my trust in you. My own hands were bound. I could not touch the earth to defend it without undoing what I meant to preserve. Only a free man could hope to stand against my enemy.' The use of free will in this is clear, although Thomas Covenant is chosen there is no destiny to control what he does or doesn't do - he is a free man and thus beyond the creator's control.
Myths and Legends
These are a major theme in the novels at all points from the Legend of Lord Kevin who gave into despair which is used as a teaching point for the destruction and devastation that occurs when you allow your heart to fall into despair, to the legend of the Bloodguard and the reasons for their vow and their part in Kevin's downfall. Both of these legends have a massive impact on the story at hand even though they are 2000 years old - they still effect the people of the time. A point which is possibly being made is the importance of stories and legends on the actions of the modern man and this is also shown through the giants who live to tell stories which can go on for days...There are many many stories and legends told within these novels many more than I can list or explain, but all have an effect on the action at hand.
The Land Vs The Real World
The contrast is striking to say the least. The pastoral, healing beauty of the Land that through the earth's natural power can even heal leprosy in contrast to the shunning and despair of Thomas Covenant's own world. And yet throughout you have Covenant determined not to accept this new world as true, even though (or perhaps because) they hail him as a hero and he is healthy. The differences in both the attitudes and the well being of the people from the two different lands is striking; the difference between forgiveness and vengeance, self loathing and trust, denial and acceptance - these contrasts keep being brought back stronger and stronger..
And to me, this really makes the book. The interweaving of some beautiful and astonishing poetry with even the grimmest of moments in the book...often showing the true emotion of the moment and often startling you speechless. I will give one example:
Elena is singing of both hers and Covenant's self doubt, showing inner anguish along with a determination to win:
Where is the Power that protects
beauty from the decay of life?
preserves truth pure of falsehood?
secures fealty from that slow stain of chaos
How are we so rendered small by Despite?
Why will the very rocks not erupt
for their own cleansing?
or crumble into dust for shame?
When You desecrated this temple,
rid Yourself of this contempt by
inflicting it upon the Land,
did You intend
that beauty and truth should pass utterly from the
Have You shaped my fate into the Law of life?
Am I effectless?
Must I preside over,
acknowledge with the bitter face of treachery,
the falling of the world?
The use of the disease leprosy is an interesting one to say the least. Leprosy isn't a disease that has been romantised like other diseases such as TB and leukemia. it is a disease that still, to this day, attracts revulsion, fear and a misunderstanding of what it is and the effects it has. For the hero of a fantasy novel to have an incurable, ugly disease which sends off an unattractive smell. Much of the book almost seems to be educating people about the disease of leprosy and how it affects the life of those who live with it, for example he makes several references to the fact that leprosy is in fact not contagious to the largest majority of people.
My main complaint is the amount of things destroyed or corrupted, which gets rather excessive. People appear to be introduced solely for the purpose of watching Covenant destroy them by his own weakness and that aggravates me. He seems to be one of the very few untouched, and yet he is bitter, and selfish...and there are enough people like that as it is. More should be made of the other characters - particularly the supernatural or unworldly like the Ranyhyn, the Giants, the Waiths and so many others which add highlights to - if I'm honest - a rather grim book on occasions.
I enjoyed it a lot. However, it's hard going, most definitely not easy reading. It is often grim with many references being made to pain, suffering and destruction...but through all this the books have a life of their own and I'd well recommend them...
ALSO ON CIAO AS SECRE
I could'nt put this book down i took it everywhere with me, i was lost in a world of fantasy imagining that i was there aswell following Thomas Convenants footsteps, a great book to read if you want to lose yourself for a while and ignore the real world. A mixtutre of the real world and fantasy that he kept being transported to and from, a fight between good and evil with lots of different creatures that turn up to get the blood racing. A great set of books.
From the very first chapters I was hooked, this is a grand epic, where a modern edge is given to a world rich in fantasy, similar to Lord of The Rings in someways, and yet utterly different in others. The hero of the two 3-part series is Thomas Covenant, a leper who is shunned in his own world. A series of strange occurences brings him to 'The Land' time and again, where he discovers his resemblance to an ancient hero, whose help is sorely needed. Aided with the random power of the White Gold of his wedding ring, and friends from the forces of good who protect the land, Thomas sets out to destroy the Despiser - Lord Foul, intent on corrupting and destroying all before him. With many epic battles, a siege, intrigue, plenty of diplomacy, fantastic beings with powers our hero can barely comprehend, and love (and the problems it brings to one who isolates himself) - the story plays out in a rough allegory of Covenant's own illness. His only weapon against Foul is his own unbelief (he is always referred to as The Unbeliever), his refusal to accept this strange land as more than a dream. In a way this refusal to fully immerse himself in the Land, yet save it nonetheless is parallel to his own struggle to cope with the enforced isolation of his Leprosy, and how ultimately his own victory over it (his leprosy fades after the first series of books) is brought about by a fight against acceptance - that of helping and being helped, but never allowing his destiny or actions to be directed by anyone in his own world or in the Land. A touch deep maybe - i could just be mad, but as the author grew up watching his father fight Leprosy as a medical specialist, it seems a fair assumption that the books are a stuggle played out through fantasy. Whatever your opinion, this is a fantastic read, a thrilling set of books that will keep you locked in the fantastic Land until you reach the end. Maybe then you'll start al
l over again. I did!
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are, in my opinion, a work of genius. Stephen Donaldson has done a great job of developing the characters and the world in which they live, known as 'the Land'. The characters are very believable, despite these being fantasy/sci-fi books. The main character, Thomas Covenant, is a leper. Although the spread of the disease is stopped, the only way he can bear to stay alive is too keep constant vigilance for anything which may harm him. However, during a visit ot his town, he is knocked down by a car and finds himself in the Land. In the Land, he finds his leprosy apparently healed, and the people he meets hold him in great respect because of his powerful white gold wedding ring, and his resemblence to a long dead hero of the Land, Berek Halfhand. Because he is an outcast in his own land, and has leprosy which he knows to be incurable, he refuses to believe the Land is real, becaoming the Unbeliever. The characters that Covenant meets add a lot to the story. I felt in some places that I could really connect with some of the characters. Eventually I was willing in my head for Foamfollower the Giant to win a battle, or find his way home. However, there is one bad point to these books - they may be a little overlong for some. The first book, 'Lord Foul's Bane', is mainly for 'character development' and 'background information' purposes, with not a lot of 'story. Things pick up in the second and third books - 'The Illearth War' and 'The Power That Preserves' - with various quests and battles happening all over the place. I enjoyed these books greatly, and I am looking forward to reading the other three books in the series, 'The Wounded Land', 'The One Tree' and 'White Gold Wielder'. These books are not for everybody, but for fans of Fantasy writing, such as myself, I higly reccomend these books as they are a
n incredible piece of fantasy storytelling.
Anyone who's read the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings will (or at least should) love these books. The fiction is on the same lines, introducing impossible to imagine characters with names where you can only guess at the correct pronunciation. Thomas Covenant, a man suffering from leprosy, alone in the world, is transformed to the land where he beleives he is having a dream and will soon wake up. Alas the land is real and he has a mission. The book is full of colourful characters, some human, some giants, and many that are far from human, both good and evil. After the first trilogy one can be forgiven for thinking that is the end of that fantastic story, but Steven Donaldson produced a second trilogy of equal immense size (these are not small books). Once again you could be forgiven for thinking he couldn't possibly compete with his first trilogy. He did, he could, and it's better. Where does this man get his imagination from. He could be either very gifted, or hopelesly insane. Read the books and decide for yourself.
Stephen Donaldson’s powerful chronicles describe a writer, Covenant, and his involvement in a delusion or alternative world known as the Land. Darker and more involved than a lot of fantasy writing, it deals with dilemmas of responsibility and guilt. The three parts are ‘Lord Fouls Bane’, ‘The Illearth War’ and ‘The Power that Preserves’. Covenant suffers from leprosy, and although the disease is in remission it defines his whole outlook. He is constantly on guard, watching for signs of new decay, to preserve what remains of himself. Left several years ago by his wife and young son, he lives like a recluse from society. A visit to his town, and car accident, plunges him into the Land. Surrounded by a world of health and beauty, all his survival techniques are thrown into doubt. Even his leprosy is restored by the wholeness that seems rooted in the Land, while he is greeted as a saviour. Shocked, he attacks one of his helpers, and is drawn into a combination of guilt and denial of the situation. His wedding ring – White Gold – is recognised as a talisman to save the Land from a terrifying enemy, Lord Foul, but he seems incapable of action because of doubt. Through the three books, Covenant is drawn further into the dilemma. Despite his unbelief, his real physical condition is deteriorating, while the world and people he denies need the action he cannot provide. Donaldson creates a world of great beauty, then shows its decline and corruption. For all those who like grittier, less certain fantasy, the series is great reading. The Second Chronicles are a following series, set at a later time. The Land has changed, almost beyond recognition, and is on the brink of destruction. Old characters appear as legends or ghosts, and the familiar is twisted or concealed. Broader in scope, new wonders and horrors are introduced as the struggle resumes for the mystical White Gold. Covenant is j
oined by a doctor, Linden Avery. While his experiences have brought some belief, she is torn by doubt in her surroundings and self.
Quite possibly the best Fantasy novels ever written. In total there are 6 books in the series. The first three detail Thomas Covenant's first trip to a place called simply "The Land". In this world he is a leper, left by his wife and outcast by the local community. Following an accident he appears in The Land and is accepted as a hero because of the ring he wears. It is a thing of tremendous power. The story becomes one of Good versus Evil but with some interesting twists. For a start Covenant despises himself because of what he is and yet is expected to become the greatset power in the Land, a hero. Not only this but he must also decide whether or not this is all a dream, concocted by his mind following the accident. The way in which the characters are represented are truly amazing, the scene-setting fabulous, I was sucked in right from the first page.
The Thomas Covenant Chronicles are not for everyone. Having said that, I loved them (perhaps I'm just sick). It's darker, more grown-up fantasy than some novels on the market and it approaches the 'whisked off to a fantasy land' theme with an interesting and novel slant. Thomas Covenant is a leper, depressed and lonely and many people find the character impossible to empathise with, as he moves from our world, where he's been treated as an outcast to a fantasy world where he's greeted as the reincarnation as a hero, able to save the land from corruption. This study of a man coming to terms with expected heroism, when he despises himself and what he's become, provide a wealth of characterisation and exploration of the nature of being outcast and of being hero. The jolts back to the real world, the backdrop of colourful and well-drawn characters and the real, honest despair are a breath of fresh air from some of the more fluffy fantasy novels out there. I love it, it refreshed the whole genre for me, and I'd definitely recommend it to anyone willing to take a chance and experience something a little difference. The three individual novels that make up the first collection 'The Thomas Covenant Chronicles' are: "Lord Foul's Bane", "The Illearth War" and "The Power that Preserves".