The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant – Lord Foul’s bane

After listening to a Writing Excuses episode about protagonists who aren’t sympathetic, I reread this book for the first time in years.

Donaldson has created a world in which fans of Tolkien will feel at home: there are elf and orc-like creatures, the protagonist and his companions wander over the map given at the front of the book and there is an object which they need to retrieve.

I had forgotten just how unlikeable Thomas Covenant is, although, to be fair to him, he does have some excuses for acting in this manner which I won’t give away. The things that got me through being in the company of this miserable, self-centred character are the way that other (much more sympathetic) characters behave and the events that unfold during the story. I also discovered a bunch of new words such as: blazonry, anile and threnody. I love learning new words and having access to an online thesaurus while reading.  By the end of the book I didn’t feel a lot of sympathy for Thomas Covenant. I wonder whether there will be a redemption for him at the end, but I’m not sure that I could manage to read my way through the ten whole book series to find out.

I do feel that Donaldson did an amazing job of creating such a complex character and a compelling world for Thomas to occupy that he was able to write ten books about him. You do feel that you want to grab hold of Thomas, give him a good shake and tell him to get on with life, though!