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

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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: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (549 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 81 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. The minions of the bad guys in both Middle Earth and The Land are genetically created life forms (Orcs and Ur-Viles/Cavewights), and the Thomas Covenant series even goes so far as to re-create the Gollum character in the Cavewight Drool Rockworm.
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95 of 113 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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176 of 229 people found the following review helpful By Arthem on March 4, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It has always distressed me that the Thomas Covenant Series has landed in the "Fantasy Genre." I am of the opinion that Donaldson's masterwork would stand on its own in any arena. In "The Land" and Thomas Covenant, Donaldson has created a poetic, philosophical, and literary statement that transcends the particularity of its settings. If the Thomas Covenant Trilogy is fantasy, then so are Voltaire's Candide and Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
A great deal of attention is paid to three aspects of this trilogy. First: its comparisons with Tolkein's Lord of the Rings. Second, Thomas Covenant as anti-hero, and third, the darkness or mood of the work.
With regard to comparison with Tolkein, it is certainly understandable, since both works deal with fantastic subjects and both are thoroughly original. Tolkein repackages mythology into his own definition of elves, dwarves, goblins and the like - creating a "standard interpretation" of these mythologies that stands apart from the cultural context of the modern interpretations (witness the nobility of his Elves as opposed to the lighthearted Smurf-creatures of the American interpretation). Donaldson, on the other hand, peoples his work with uniquely defined creatures, from the Giants to the Ur-Viles, that have no contemporary counterparts in popular mythology, at least in nomenclature. Tolkein, of course, has been imitated, having used common mythology as a basis. Donaldson's world is too unique to be thus reduced, and so he gets no genre of his own.
In a similar sense, both authors constructed complex and detailed worlds whose full history extends beyond the bounds of their primary works. For Tolkein, it took the prequel (poshumous) Silmarillion to flesh out his world.
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