Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book review - Lord Fouls Bane

Lord Fouls Bane by Stephen Donaldson
Lord Foul's Bane
Review by Jacqui Slaney
I could not write reviews on books without a least one mention to this author. My brother actually gave me this book, and told me to read it. At the time, I was still very much into solid Science Fiction so viewed fantasy novels as something completely new so was not particularly enthusiastic.
This is the description:
The first book in one of the most remarkable epic fantasies ever written, the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever.
He called himself Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever because he dared not believe in the strange alternate world in which he suddenly found himself. Yet he was tempted to believe, to fight for the Land, to be the reincarnation of its greatest hero....
I struggled at first with this story. I found that the main character Thomas Covenant was not very sympathetic, despite all the things that happened to him- catching leprosy and his wife leaving him taking his child with him, I could not like him. When he enters ‘the Land’, he is so resolutely against believing that this other world is real, that I found it grating on me, he is a very self pitying character which is quite annoying, he is not nicknamed ‘ the Unbeliever ’ for nothing.
 However, as I got more into the book, it became clear why Covenant was like this. The author showed how the character was so devoted to surviving his disease that he could not allow himself to believe in the other world where the inhabitants looked upon him as a reincarnation of a long dead hero, even when he assaults one of the women helping him, he is still looked up to.
This is very much a book one, though there is very little time actually spent in this world, the author uses it to build the character of Covenant. This helps the reader to understand him and the internal conflict that he goes through, his fear that if he lets his defences down for anything, even friendship then he is doomed. I loved the description of ‘The Land’, this other world is cleverly constructed; there are few authors that can create such a detailed world  for the reader, but with the skilful writing of this author, you get a real sense of its history and the different peoples that inhabit it.
Though this is, just the start of the series there is still a good plot running through the book. There is a clear struggle between good and evil in the story, which continues through out the series. The different characters use magic, but its use is interwoven into the story so it seems a natural part of the book, even Covenant himself thanks to his white gold wedding band is seen as a magic wielder, which he manages in the end to use despite his protestations.
 This is one of those books that stays with you, I first read this book years ago, but I still have a copy of this and the rest of the series. Every time you read it, you see another aspect of it.  There are characters here that you will remain fond of, Foamfollower the Giant- just to name one, I even like Covenant himself  now, which considering my first reaction to him is quite surprising.
This is a must read for any fantasy fan.
9 out of 10