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The Runes of the Earth (The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Book 1) Paperback – August 30, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Trade; Reprint edition (August 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044101304X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441013043
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #403,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon.com Exclusive Content

Worth the Wait
More than two decades after he completed the Second Chronicles, Stephen R. Donaldson has begun a third series about the leprous Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. In this Amazon.com exclusive essay, Donaldson explains why The Runes of the Earth has been so long in the making. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Six fantasy novels featuring Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever appeared between 1977 and 1983, but Donaldson shows that his epic series still has the power to surprise in this richly imagined start of a final quartet. Covenant died at the end of White Gold Wielder (1983), and at this novel's outset so does his lover, Linden Avery, in a violent confrontation with Joan and Roger Covenant as they kidnap her son, Jeremiah. Linden awakens once again in the Land, where she finds Lord Foul scheming to escape the Arch of Time with the help of Joan and Roger while using Jeremiah as a pawn. The 10 years since Linden's last visit have been centuries by Land time, and in that interval Anele, with whom she teams, has lost the Staff of Law, plunging the world into chaos. Linden's only hope for saving the Land and reclaiming Jeremiah is to gather a crew from the Land's numerous races and surf a caesure, or time rift, to retrieve the Staff. Nevertheless, she can't shake her fear that all this has been plotted by Foul as part of his malignant design. Donaldson's saga has transformed tremendously since initial volumes offered startlingly original antiheroic fantasy resonating with echoes of both Tolkien and Philip K. Dick, but the engaging humanity of his characters still compels attention. A new generation of readers may find this episode's midstream plunge into the saga bracing, while fans of Covenant's past chronicles will welcome a return to the Land.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

297 of 329 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Appleseed VINE VOICE on October 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
First, let me say: Bravo! Well done, Mr. Donaldson!

Next, I want to direct my comments to those readers who have never read any of the Covenant books, but are contemplating reading this book. Your main concern, undoubtedly, is, "How can I possibly enter a complex series at book seven? Won't I be so incredibly lost that it won't make any sense for me to buy this book and see what all the fuss is about Covenant?" Both questions are easily answered. Donaldson has taken extraordinary care to construct the beginning of this book in such a way that if you are entering the Covenant series at this late point, by the time you get to page 200, all that went before will be explained, and you'll (almost) feel as if you have read the first six books. He does this primarily in two ways. First, he has written a "What Has Gone Before" prelude, which succinctly wraps up the essential plots and dilemmas of the first six books into about eight pages. It is *superbly* done. Second, from almost the very beginning of the book itself, he meticulously and purposefully takes the reader back to prior events in the last two trilogies, while at the same time moving the story forward with the tremendous urgency of his past works. While someone like myself (who is probably more familiar with these books than I should be), can see what's happening as plainly as I can see that Shaquille O'Neal is a very large man, people less familiar with the work will not feel burdened or bludgeoned by what is, essentially, catching readers up. For reader like me, this will likely feel somewhat tedious as we know all of the legends of the Land. But for readers who are unfamiliar with the legends, you will find them to be like a drink from the source of a mountain spring.
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189 of 244 people found the following review helpful By Patrick J. Sullivan on October 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Let me start by saying that I disagree that this would be a good book for readers new to the Covenant series to start with. It's true that Donaldson does a good job of explaining events from the prior books as he goes along, for the benefit of readers who may have forgotten various details over the years, but these explanations would act as spoilers of the six prior books for new readers. It would be much better for new readers to start with Lord Foul's Bane and read the first two series through first, rather than to start with this book and find that the first two trilogies have been ruined for them.

The Runes of the Earth lacks both the scope and the imaginative detail that Donaldson's writing displayed, in particular, in the second Covenant trilogy. The action is confined to a relatively small part of The Land (and to one small area of the "real" world), and takes place over a very brief timespan from the point of view of Linden Avery, the main character.

There are of course some new concepts introduced, and a new threat from Lord Foul. But too much of Runes merely recycles old themes and characters and peoples from the first two series. In the second Chronicles, Donaldson was not merely content to rehash the first trilogy. Instead, he brought us Elohim and Sandgorgons, venom and Sunbane, Bhrathrair and the Clave - and Linden herself. Runes offers nothing comparable to the shock which The Wounded Land presented to readers familiar with The Land.

Even the new characters are too dependent on the prior series. Linden's son, Covenant's son, even Cail's son and Sunder's and Hollian's son. Why not somebody brand new? 7,000 years after the first trilogy, we are still seeing Stonedowners, Haruchai, and Ramen.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Doctor Rent on October 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
For fans of Donaldson, the writing in this book should hold no surprises. The main character is full of turmoil, her power doesn't come without great risks, the world is at stake, and the chances are slim. Fans of Donaldson wouldn't have it any other way.

One complaint is that the book starts off quite slowly. I assume that most of the fans who say this do so because they're used to reading Donaldson's books one after another without long waits in between, and so the books don't really have to stand alone (after all, the last time anyone had to wait for a Covenant book was more than 20 years ago). Donaldson writes huge epics; that's his stated goal, and so the books aren't really MEANT to stand alone. People who have read the Chronicles, the Gap Cycle, the Man Who Mysteries, and Mordant's Need should not be surprised when Donaldson takes his time in the first book setting everything up for the events in the rest of the series. As it is, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I can see that everything he has set up is certainly going to have exciting results during the rest of the series!

The books will only get better from here on out, so be patient and I can guarantee the Last Chronicles will be a worthy finale for the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Gilbert S. Wolfe on December 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Perhaps it was because I read the first two trilogies when I was but a lad, but I previously saw the series as a good fantasy story, without the depth and symbolism that one finds in (the obvious example) Lord of the Rings. Then again, I didn't see the depth and symbolism there the first time I read it, either. I now suspect I was wrong in that earlier view, and to be sure, I'll be starting Lord Foul's Bane again tomorrow.

What really jumped out at me in this latest installment of the Covenant series was the recurring theme of regret and shame. While the names have in large part changed, the characters seem to remain the same: Stoic, principled Haruchai; skilled, servant Ramen; simple, earthy Stonedownors; majestic and earth-powerful Ranyhyn; dark and mysterious ur-viles and waynhim. What has changed with these characters is the state wherein they find themselves. On the surface, these beings maintain the same pride and stature they previously held (with the exception of the Stonedownors, who have been sheltered into ignorance). Beneath the exterior of these once-proud beings lies the shame of having failed the Land, allowing the power of Despite to once again roam free. In their own way, they acknowledge (if only sub-consciously) their failures and follies. The millenia that have passed have not changed them outwardly, but the scars within leave them all wounded and certain of their inadequacies, leading to inaction and desertion of all that had long ago preserved the beauty and majesty of the Land and its inhabitants.

It is from a similar shame that Linden Avery rises.
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