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Lord Foul's Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – June 12, 1987

544 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

These books have never received the recognition they deserve. It's one of the most powerful and complex fantasy trilogies since Lord of the Rings, but Donaldson is not just another Tolkien wanabee. Each character-driven book introduces unexpected plots, sub-plots, and a host of magical beings so believably rendered you'd believe you might bump into them on your way to the bookstore.
                                                --Alex Klapwald, Director of Production

From the Inside Flap

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....


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Product Details

  • Series: The First Chronicles: Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (June 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345348656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345348654
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (544 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 79 people found the following review helpful By M on December 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
3 1/2 stars
Having reread Lord of the Rings in anticipation of the films last year, I recently also paid a visit to another fantasy series that I enjoyed while in middle school: Thomas Covenant. Nearly 20 years later, I appreciate the books more. The themes are very adult and while I enjoyed the books as a child because Donaldson creates a great fantasy-world that will interest and draw in readers of all ages, I am better able to understand what Donaldson was trying to accomplish now that I'm older.
In some ways, I think this particular book is more enjoyable when you're younger. Donaldson was just getting a grip on his writing style with the first book, and I find it to be noticeably less of a quality read than some of the later installments. Donaldson doesn't quite have his "flow" yet, and he does not quite develop Thomas Covenant enough to paint him as anything more than an annoying crank. You see what he is *trying* to do, but the overall effort falls kind of short.
Furthermore, there are simply too many similarities between this book and Lord of the Rings for comfort. In both series, we have a quest story of a reluctant hero who is the bearer of a powerful ring (even the talisman is the same!) that neither can use, which is coveted by a "dark lord," who lives in the East (the bad guys always live in the East; an allusion to Cold-War era politics?) and for whom physical form is an uneccesary addendum to their existence. And in both books, if the bad guys ever get the powerful rings, it will mean the end of the world.
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94 of 112 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Dudley on January 7, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Lord Foul's Bane" has many strengths to recommend it. It also has a number of shortcomings I would be remiss in not mentioning. I personally loved the series, moreso the second time around.

Donaldson's hero, Thomas Covenant, is a leper and an outcast in his own world. He has resigned himself to his life of disease (there was no cure for leprosy when this was written) and solitiude, and desires nothing more than to be left alone to live out his sentence. After an accident in town, he finds himself transported to a fantastical place known only as the Land where his disease is cured, and the most evil being in the Land challenges Covenant to stop him from destroying the world. Much of this first book in the series is spent on making Covenant as contemptible as possible, making him cowardly, a rapist, selfish, and inconsiderate, but most of all disbelieving in the world he has found himself in. Although Covenant just wants the nightmare to be over, he finds that people see him as a reincarnation of a long-dead hero, and put their faith in him. But in his contemptiblity, Covenant is pitiable. It's hard not to feel bad for him at times when people blame him for things that aren't his fault, or refuse to understand his remorse at things that are.

The weaknesses of the story lie in Donaldson's reliance on his Thesaurus and the fact that a contemptible character scares a lot of readers off. As to the language, he does at times go into a pointless string of synonyms, using words that no normal person uses in conversation. I think of this as a weakness in the novel, but not one that affects my overall view of it. More of a quirk of the author.
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72 of 92 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Burkholder on April 23, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was introduced to His Verbosity, Stephen R. Donaldson, in my mid teens. At the time I thought Donaldson was very Wise and Deep, and that his book was practically dripping with insights on the human condition. Now that so much time has passed me by, I decided I would read it again to see how well it would hold up. Read on; the whole dreary experiment is detailed below.

This book is about a successful writer, Thomas Covenant, who is stricken with the ancient horror of leprosy. The disease strips him of everything worth having, leaving him mentally, spiritually and physically maimed. After a severe traffic accident he is transported to a magical place known only as the Land, a Reality so essentially wholesome that his leprosy is cured simply by being there. But it is also a place whose peace is threatened by Lord Foul, ancient foe of Good and practitioner of Wickedness. This evil entity lays upon Thomas Covenant the charge of carrying a Message of Doom to the Lords of Revelstone, a Doom in which Covenant finds himself included thanks to the unguessable might of his white gold wedding ring! Can Thomas Covenant reach the Lords in time to stop this nightmarish vision from becoming reality!?

Man, it SOUNDS pretty good, don't you think? How could it all have gone so terribly, terribly wrong? First of all, Thomas Covenant is the most unrelentingly unpleasant person to ever appear in the fiction of a civilized people. I get that he's an anti-hero, but famous anti-heroes like Billy the Kid and Jesse James had personality, some trait or Independent Streak that people can admire on some level. Covenant has no redeeming qualities of any description. He rapes the first person to offer him aid.
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