Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review: Against All Things Ending by Stephen R. Donaldson

I'm really enjoying Donaldson's Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant so much so that I'm considering reading the first and second chronicles again. See while I did enjoy them well enough all those years ago I don't know if I really appreciated them. The Covenant books aren't for everybody; if you're looking for a light and fluffy easy-read stay well clear. The Covenant books are highly complex and deeply engrossing; simply put in my humble opinion they are nothing short of masterpieces.

Through the combined power of her staff of law, Loric's krill and Thomas Covenant's white gold wedding ring Linden Avery has successfully brought her lover back to life. But there is a price. Unleashing such a large amount of raw power has roused the worm at world's end which will now devour the Land itself. Not only that but Thomas Covenant has not come back quite as Linden would have hoped for. Being part of the Arch of Time for centuries has left Covenant in possession of virtually all knowledge. Something his mortal frame cannot contain. Covenant struggles to stay in the present falling into cracks in his own mind which leave him in a catatonic state. Linden believes that the problem of the worm is far beyond her and resolves instead to rescue her son from Thomas' son Roger and the symbiotic croyel which has taken control of him.

The first part of the book seemed to lag for me as for about the first hundred pages Linden and her companions seemed to stand around trying to figure out what to do. This is only a minor blemish and the pace picked up after that, contrasting nicely with the breakneck battle and chase scenes to the more sedate traveling scenes. As always Donaldson gets right into Linden's head bearing all of her own insecurities and self doubt like no other author is capable of. This is where Donaldson's work has been labeled depressing and there is no doubt a level of maturity is demanded from the reader. The payoff of the lesson Linda learns is revealed beautifully with her conversation with Stave later on in the book and is well worth it. We also get to see things form Thomas Covenant's perspective for the first time since the second chronicles and it is certainly interesting to observe the effects being in the arch has had on him. The book concludes with same major story arcs resolved for both Covenant and Linden and sets thing up nicely for the finale.

Overall if you've enjoyed Donaldson's writing before you will do so again. 8.75/10.

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