Extract from Stephen R. Donaldson's THE LAST DARK

The very last chapter in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is now available!!

And here's a teaser excerpt from Stephen R. Donaldson's The Last Dark, compliments of the folks at Putnam! For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

Compelled step by step to actions whose consequences they could neither see nor prevent, Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery have fought for what they love in the magical reality known only as "the Land." Now they face their final crisis. Reunited after their separate struggles, they discover in each other their true power--and yet they cannot imagine how to stop the Worm of the World’s End from unmaking Time. Nevertheless they must resist the ruin of all things, giving their last strength in the service of the world's continuance.


Linden Avery’s fate may indeed have been written in water. It was certainly writ in tears. They blurred everything; redefined the foundations of her life.

Standing in Muirwin Delenoth, resting place of abhorrence, with Jeremiah clasped in her arms, she felt emotions as extreme as the dismay which had followed Thomas Covenant’s resurrection and the rousing of the Worm of the World’s End; as paralyzing and uncontainable as the knowledge that she had doomed all of her loves. But there, in Andelain, the scale of her distress had seemed too great to be called despair. Here, in the company of bones and old death, her glad shock at Jeremiah’s restoration was too great and complex to be joy.

Stave of the Haruchai stood waiting with his arms folded, impassive as a man who had done nothing, and had never lost a son. Three Ranyhyn waited near him, watching Linden and Jeremiah with glory in their eyes. In the distant west, the sun drifted down shrouded in the hues of ash and dust, casting shadows like innominate auguries from the stone blades and plates which rimmed the hollow. Heaved aside by the deflagration of Jeremiah’s construct, the skeletons of quellvisks sprawled against the far slope of Muirwin Delenoth as if they sought to disavow their role in his redemption—or as if they had drawn back in reverence.

Such things were the whole world, and the whole world waited. But Linden took no notice. She was unaware that she had dropped her Staff, or that Covenant’s ring still hung on its chain around her neck, holding in its small circle the forged fate of all things. She regarded only Jeremiah, felt only him; knew only that he responded to her embrace. A miracle so vast—

I did it, Mom. For the first time in his life, he had spoken to her. I made a door for my mind, and it opened.

Joy was too small a word for her emotions. Happiness and gratitude and relief and even astonishment were trivial by comparison. A staggering confluence of valor and trust had restored her son. At that moment, she believed that if the Worm came for her now, or She Who Must Not Be Named, or even Lord Foul the Despiser, her only regret would be that she did not get to know who her son had become during his absence.

Somehow he had weathered his excruciating dissociation. In graves he had endured what the Despiser and Roger Covenant and the croyel had done to him.

She was murmuring his name without realizing it, trying to absorb the knowledge of him; trying to imprint his hug and his tangible legacy of Earthpower and his unmistakable awareness onto every neuron of her being. He was her adopted son. Physically she had known every inch of him for most of his life. But she had never met the underlying him until this moment: until he had arisen from his absence and looked at her and spoken.

The way in which she repeated his name was weeping; but that, too, she did not realize. She was no more aware of her tears than she was of Stave and the Ranyhyn and passing time and the ancient ruin of bones. Holding Jeremiah in her arms—and being held by him—was enough.

She had no better name for what she felt than exaltation.

Yet the exaltation was Jeremiah’s, not hers. He had become transcendent, numinous: an icon of transfiguration. He seemed to glow with warmth and health in her arms as if he had become the Staff of Law: not her Staff, runed and ebony, transformed to blackness by her sins and failures, but rather the Staff of Law as it should have been, pure and beneficent, the Staff that Berek Halfhand had first created to serve the beauty of the Land.

The gift that Anele had given Jeremiah elevated him in ways that Linden could not define. He had not simply become responsive and aware. He appeared to dismiss the past ten years of his life as if they had no power over him.

Such things could not be dismissed.

“Chosen,” Stave said as if he sought to call her back from an abyss. “Linden Avery.” An uncharacteristic timbre of pleading or regret ached in his voice. “Will you not harken to me?”

She was not ready to hear him. She did not want to step back from Jeremiah. He vindicated everything that she had done and endured in his name. If she withdrew from exaltation, she would be forced to think—

And every thought led to fear and contradiction; to dilemmas for which she was unprepared. No one could endure what her son had suffered without emotional damage; without scars and scarification. Yet she could not discern damage. In her embrace, he felt more than physically well. He seemed entirely whole, mentally and spiritually intact.

That Linden could not believe. She knew better.

“Mom.” Like hers, Jeremiah’s voice wept gladly. “Mom, stop crying. You’re getting me all wet.”

For his sake, she tried.

Long ago under Melenkurion Skyweir, she had forgotten the sensations of being a healer. Although she had cared for her companions in various ways, she had responded to their injuries as if her own actions were those of a stranger. But she had not forgotten what she had learned during her years in Berenford Memorial, tending the wounded souls of the abused and broken.

Training and experience had taught her that an escape from unreactive passivity was a vital step, crucial to everything that it enabled—but it was only the first step. When a crippled spirit found the courage to emerge from its defenses, it then had to face the horrors which had originally driven it into hiding. Otherwise deeper forms of healing could not occur.

She realized now that she was expecting a rush of agony from Jeremiah: the remembered anguish of every cruelty which the Despiser and Roger and the croyel had inflicted. That prospect appalled her.

Adapted from THE LAST DARK by Stephen R. Donaldson, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a member of The Penguin Group (USA) LLC. Copyright (c) 2013 by Stephen R. Donaldson.

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