The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever : a fantasy novel by Stephen Donaldson (1977)

Every year on my birthday a group of my closest friends gather together in secret to come up with a birthday present for me. And that is quite a difficult feat, mind you, as my hobbies and the things I like are quite large. As such, it becomes harder every year to find something that I don’t already own. (But to my defense I have the same problem in deciding what to give them in return). Usually it takes them quite a while to come up with an idea, but this year apparently was the first time that it was quite easy. On that fateful day in March I received a huge box that contained a large number of books. I was at a loss for words as it truly was a wonderful gift, but I was even more surprised in finding out that it was a series of novels that I had never heard about. Today I finished the first of those novels, a huge 1154 page omnibus edition that contained the first three books of an epic fantasy series. This review is written for my friends who gave me this wonderful present, but for one in particular who shall remain nameless, because I know she doesn’t like stuff like this. But she was the one who came up with this idea, and I can’t thank her enough, for this book was truly wonderful from start to finish. And then again: you know who you are anyway!

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The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever is an epic fantasy series, that features one of the most unusual heroes that you will ever meet. In fact I can’t think of a single book character that I have ever hated more in my life than Thomas Covenant. But in the end you want to see him win the day too, which only contributes to the amazing skills of the writer. Thomas Covenant has been diagnosed with leprosy. His wife, unable to deal with this, has filed for divorce and has left him, together with their young son. The town he lives in despises him, and wants nothing to do with him. In fact they pretty much stop at nothing to get him to leave. Because of this Thomas has grown into an incredibly bitter man, that has no love for anyone. One day he gets hit by a car and falls unconscious. And it is then that strange things are beginning to happen.

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When Covenant wakes up he finds himself in an unfamiliair world, simply called “The Land”. He finds out that he has been summoned there by a creature that has been manipulated by an evil being called Lord Foul.Β Lord Foul’s evil threatens to destroy The Land, but Thomas might just have the power to stop him. And that power seems to be contained within the most unlikely place one could think of: the wedding ring on his finger which he could not make himself to stop wearing even after his divorce. Thomas, however doesn’t believe that all of this is real, and instead thinks it is something conjured up by his mind to let him deal with his leprosy. With the evil gaining power every single day, the plight of the good people of The Land becomes ever more desperate. But as long as Thomas remains an Unbeliever, Lord Foul has won the war without even having to strike a single blow….

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This omnibus Edition contains the novels Lord Foul’s Bane, The Illearth War and The Power That Preserves. As I mentioned above, I truly hated Thomas Covenant. You would think that with everything I told you about him, one would give the guy a break. But trust me when I say that you will grow to hate him as well. This man is pretty much unfriendly to everyone he meets, no matter how they treat him. He even ends up raping an innocent girl at some point, which was a truly loathsome act. But still, as the story progresses his character grows on you, and you really want him to pull through anyway, no matter what he has done. Stephen Donaldson has put together a very rich fantasy world, filled with a huge cast of characters and places. And I do mean huge as at the back of the novel there is a 8 page glossary of names for all the characters, items, and places that the novel contains.

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That was also the only negative point I could come up with. The sheer number of names and terms used in the book was so big, that I did find myself flicking to the back of the novel at times to look up who a certain character was. But besides that, this book is an incredible read from start to finish. It’s a pageturner that is hard to put down, and truly has that classic quality of Β “Just one more chapter before I turn off the lights” (which usually means that you end up reading more than one chapter). The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is a must read for people who like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. It’s rich mythology, terrific characters, and epic storyline will hold you spellbound all the way to the end. Even though I will now take a break in order to return to a science fiction universe, I can’t wait to get back to The Land, and continue with the epic adventures of Thomas. Even though I still hate that guy…..

I give The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant a 9 out of 10 score.

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24 thoughts on “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever : a fantasy novel by Stephen Donaldson (1977)”

  1. Yay, the book reviews have commenced! πŸ˜€ And 1154 pages?? Darn! Well, technically it’s three books in one but still…
    I had never heard of these books before either, but I’m glad you enjoyed them so much πŸ™‚ Covenant sounded like such a poor, unfortunate soul (no Little Mermaid pun intended) that I found myself pitying him almost instantly. However, seeing as he’s so hateful and you absolutely despised him, I might have to revise my feelings. I mean, raping a girl? No, sir, NO. It’s nice that he redeems himself somewhat but really, even I hate him now!
    The interminable list of characters and names sounds like what I might go through once I start ASOIAF by George R.R. Martin. Just for kicks, the other day I decided to research which books contained the most named characters and was not surprised to see Martin there. I did not see Donaldson, but I bet he came close to being on the list. (War and Peace came in first place).
    It’s nice that none of this was able to tarnish your reading experience and that you are as excited to continue the series as before πŸ™‚ The Land sounds like a fascinating place and everything about these books looks absolutely awesome. I’ll definitely need to try this pageturner!
    Wonderful review, as per usual ^^

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    1. Wow, thanks for this very extensive and wonderful comment 😊 Haha, yes Covenant is a very, very unlikeable character, but weirdly enough….he grows on you as the book progresses, and at some point you even get to feel for him….a bit that is 😊
      I usually don’t really like books that have such a long list of names, as it makes for very unpleasant reading at times, but this book was such a joy that I did not mind it at all. George R.R. Martin, certainly isn’t a big surprise as I have trouble at times keeping track of all the characters in the tv series lol πŸ˜‚ That said when the series ends I will probably start reading the books as well. Thanks again for your wonderful comment πŸ˜€

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  2. An Epic Fantasy from 1977! wow.. No wonder the covers are unrecognizable haha… I guess it’s also great to receive a present you don’t recognize and then ended up loving it. Excellent review Michel! I will have to look up this series πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmmm…I won’t comment on your friends *grins*

    This series.. it’s epic, it’s the one who introduced me into the world of fantasy. Even with this unbelievable character, it got me hooked to this kind of books.

    A joy to read this review, thanks πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s true a terrific book. The blending of worlds is done well, and the character is really something else. Even though I am currently reading another book, I am really tempted to get back and read the next omnibus πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, you can rest assured, my post never contain spoilers like that πŸ˜€ I always try to avoid spoilers in my posts as much as possible, as I would hate to see a spoilers for something I have yet to see or read used.
      I agree, there is something very cool about old vintage covers, and these look amazing 😊 Thank you for your comment πŸ˜€

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