Thursday, 17 October 2013

Book Review : Lord Foul's Bane / Stephen R. Donaldson

I’m still undecided about this book, despite having finished it (after several false starts) over a week ago.

The pluses:

1.     It is epic fantasy that is not directly lifted from The Lord of the Rings.  He has made some effort to ensure that it is his world and that it has its own rules and its own beings. 
2.       Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever is a 20th century man, transported by mysterious means into this alternate world.
3.       Great Goddess, there must be something else positive about it—I spent time reading this thing!

The minuses:

1.       Thomas Covenant is a distinctly unlikeable character.  He is cranky, whiney, rude, violent, stubborn, un-cooperative, you name it.  Always recalcitrant.
2.       There is a rape, which just gets glossed over.  Covenant commits it and really doesn’t seem to care a whole lot.  It’s just something he did.  Even when the text makes it clear that Lena, the victim, will be considered “ruined” by her culture because of it.  And yes, I was annoyed about that too—really, being a victim “ruins” someone?
3.       There is a ring, precious!  Mind you, its TC’s wedding ring and it’s his link between his own world and The Land where this adventure is set, but still.
4.       The whole leprosy thing—I guess it was supposed to explain why TC behaved like a dick all the time, but it didn’t seem like the right reason to me.  And why was he healed while in The Land, but not healed when he returned to real life?  And would people, especially medical professionals, actually treat him as they are portrayed to?
5.       Names are important to me—Lord Foul and the cavewight Drool were just the two worst examples.
6.       At the end, Covenant has apparently learned NOTHING.  No change.  Still a complete dick.  But at least the people of The Land don’t have to put up with him anymore.  Except there is a whole series of books.  Something tells me they will have to put up with him again.


  1. Hi Wanda

    I read the first series many years ago when I still read a lot of fantasy, now I read mostly SF. As you said it did seem to be one of the few that was not a LOTR clone
    like Terry Brooks but the main character was such an unlikable person it was hard to really get into the story. As you said his leprosy was given as the reason but it was unconvincing.I have to say I was never tempted to reread it or any of his later books. There are just too many other fantasy writers I enjoy like Patricia A. McKillip and Robin McKinley to bother with him.


    1. Yes, I am really debating whether I want to read any more of the series, despite my sci fi/fantasy reading project. I believe I will try at least one more before giving up entirely. I am also still on the fence about reading more Piers Anthony, who I find to be a creepy writer (very sexist and seemingly completely unaware of it). I do wonder how these two authors got on the list of all time best???