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Fans can thank their lucky stars for this return to The Land
on June 30, 2004
THE WOUNDED LAND is a rich, and somewhat difficult book. It was certainly wonderful to return to the Land, but the book is by far the bleakest of the entire two trilogies. Donaldson clearly had to up the ante to make the book worth reading (and writing), so the despair that has befallen the Land is pretty dire.
Also, even though we get to revisit Covenant, we are 4000 years in the future of the land, and all the beloved characters we came to know in the first trilogy are gone. Donaldson does manage a brief, ghostly appearance by some of them, but they are missed. After all, Covenant is aptly named an ANIT-hero, and he is tough to like. So Donaldson, while also showing us how horrible things have become in the Land, has to also give us new characters to care about.
This time, Covenant brings someone with him from our time, the doctor Linden Avery. But she carries lots of baggage herself, and is also tough to warm up to...although she brings out a soft side in Covenant which is sorely needed. The author does a good job of introducing new characters to join on the new quest to save the Land from Lord Foul's machinations. Sunder and Hollian, two villagers who have learned all the history of the Land incorrectly, have their eyes opened to the truth by Covenant, and their plight of realization and acceptance is quite emotional. The character of Vain, a creature developed by the ur-viles to help Covenant, is fascinating and holds many secrets. I won't tell you too many more, because the book holds some delights in store.
But it isn't easy. The first half of the book feels a bit repititive, as Covenant and his growing band struggle to cross the Land to Revelstone (echoes of the first book), and we kinda get the point early on that it isn't easy going. But things really pick up once Covenant goes to Andelain and then on to Revelstone. There are some exciting chase scenes, one in particular dealing with The Grim, a malevolent "happening" sent to destroy the group from the false lords of Revelstone.
Donaldson has become an even more florid writer. His vocabulary is formidable...mine ain't too bad, but there is at least one word per page that leaves me scratching my head as to its definition, and I swear he's just made up a few. You can tell what they mean by the context, but they are distracting. He doesn't believe in subtle feelings...these characters are going through earth-shattering events, and they don't feel things mildly. They are torn, "riven", etc. etc. I still love the books, but sometimes it is a bit much.
If you've read the first trilogy and liked it or loved it...then you MUST read further. If you haven't read the first trilogy, don't start here. Go back to Lord Foul's Bane. And if, by some chance, you didn't care for the first trilogy, I don't think anything here will change your mind. You either love the Land and Donaldson's way of taking you there...or you don't and won't.