Fatal Revenant

I was eager to read the second volume of The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Though a vast introduction, The Runes of the Earth, with its cliffhanger ending, left fans begging for more. Hence, I couldn't wait to return to the Land once more, and see where Fatal Revenant would take this tale.

The sequel begins right where The Runes of the Earth ended. But if you are hoping for a happy reunion between Linden and Thomas Covenant and her son Jeremiah, you are obviously not familiar with Stephen R. Donaldson's work. Revelations are made that will break Linden's heart, and she must find the strength within herself to persevere.

As was the case with the previous trilogies in the Covenant saga, Donaldson's narrative conjures up vivid and magical images. Vast in scope and vision, Fatal Revenant answers many questions that were raised by its predecessor. Indeed, secrets about Kastenessen, the Durance, the skurj, the Giants, the Haruchai, Kevin's Dirt, the Elohim, Roger Covenant, the Demondim, the ur-viles, the Waynhim, and more are revealed. Add to that a journey back into time, the introduction of the Insequent -- a cabal of powerful wizards who oppose the Elohim, a showdown beneath Melenkurion Skyweir, and a lot more, and you have a very satisfying reading experience in front of you!

I truly enjoyed the manner with which the author brought Fatal Revenant to a close, even though it is more or less anti-climactic and yet another cliffhanger. I expect some readers to find this off-putting, but I thought it was apropos to end it in such a fashion.

As always, my main complaint remains that the dialogues often don't ring true. When a vulgar villager uses a vocabulary which would put an English major to shame, something's not right. So expect terms such as condign, sooth, benison, puissant/puissance, oblique/obliquely, etc, to pepper throughout the chapters of this novel.

Given the author's career, I was expecting a bit more character growth in this second volume. And yet, other than where Stave is concerned, there is not much growth to speak of. Still, since Linden and her companions find themselves into dire straits at every turn, this might explain why. . .

One facet of this novel which could have been better is the pace. Donaldson's Covenant books have never been known for their fast-paced narrative, but various portions of Fatal Revenant are sluggish and break the overall rhythm of the story.

Nevertheless, fans of the Thomas Covenant saga should love this new installment. As a matter of fact, you may pre-order this one without fear that it won't live up to your expectations.

The press release claims that the addition of a synopsis of all previous Covenant books at the start of this one makes Fatal Revenant the perfect jumping-on point for new readers, who will supposedly find the story easily accessible. This, I must say, is the biggest lie I've heard in quite a while. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are a highly imaginative saga that resounds with depth and complexity. As such, it is impossible to jump in at this point without reading the first two trilogy, not if you want to appreciate this tale for what it is -- one of the classics of the genre.

Fatal Revenant is for aficionados who crave high fantasy tales with depth and substance.

The final verdict: 8/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

8 commentaires:

DesLily said...

Man... I can't wait! lol.. I love ALL the Covenant books!

So, how close are you to being able to interview Donaldson???? Soon???? Looking forward to reading that interview!

Patrick said...

Just received his answers this morning!;-)

Chris, The Book Swede said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris, The Book Swede said...

Pat, I've been looking forward to this one for ages!

Really great review, and the idea that you don't need to have read the first two trilogies set me to laughing so badly!

Looking forward to your Q&A, as usual.

I've always thought dialogue was a bit of a weak area for Donaldson where villagers, etc are concerned. After my second re-read of both trilogies, I started using a dictionary!

Puissant -- how I've missed that word from other fantasy books! ;)

The Book Swede

Anonymous said...

Anti-climatic eh? Donaldson not a fan of ending his books with weather patterns?
I read the first chronicles so so so long ago, and then only read the first two books of the second and got halfway through the last before giving up. I think now that I am more mature, well older anyway, I might wait until the final book of this last trilogy is published and will read them all again.
I recently re-read the "Mordant's Need" duology as well as the "Reave The Just" collection and they reiterated just how much I love this guy's writing style. Must also finish that Gap series one day...

Alan said...

Once this whole thing really is wrapped up I must get around to reading the entire series. I've never read a Donaldson book - does that make me a pariah?

Chris, The Book Swede said...

Yes :P

But I'm sure Donaldson would find an even better word for it ;)

The Book Swede

Anonymous said...

Stephen Donaldson is a literary god!

I'm just coming to the last few chapters of the book and I can't wait to the end - although I know it means I will have a long wait before the next novel.

If only they could make the Covenant series into a film - surely they must be close to the kind of technology that they would need to bring his stories to life?

The worst thing about this novel? The fact that my husband can't read it at the same time as me - he is dying to know what's going on but he's decided to re-read Runes of the Earth first.

The best thing? I've just logged onto Stephen Donaldson's website and discovered there are four novels in the last series - not three.

If I could only bend the Arch of Time...