Top positive review
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Shorter, but still Stephen R. Donaldson
on June 16, 2000
Stephen R. Donaldson is, in my opinion, certainly the greatest fantasy writer ever to set pen to paper. I feel a little guilty saying this, because of course I love Tolkien. But Donaldon's works are deeper, more moving, and - despite often being harsh and burtal in spots - more positive and optimistic. Where Tolkien revels in the glory days of the past, Donaldson looks to the future.
I enjoyed the short stories in Reave the Just because they are thematically and stylistically closest to his early works, mainly the Thomas Covenant books which I still think are by far his best. If you liked Covenant, these give you a sort of condensed shot of many of the things that make his earlier novels appealing. From the fool who falls in love with a lady and looks to the legendary Reave the Just to save him - only to find out that Reave's power is rather unusual and in the end he has to save himself; to the man who is cursed by a genie to have all the people close to him die horribly, this is classic Donaldson, but with a cleaner style honed by experience. I also liked the variety; the stories in this collection are not cookie-cutter fantasy but explorations of a variety of different themes and ideas, approached in different ways with real imagination.
Also worthy of note, what made the Gap and Covenant series hard to read for many people was not so much the violence, which could be frequent and graphic, but the rape - which was neither, but obviously could still be rather difficult to tackle. There is no sex of any kind in any of these stories, which should make them much more accessible. While I "enjoyed" his most recent Gap series, in many ways those books reached a level of brutality I can't deal with repeatedly. These stories have backed off to being more typical fantasy fare with the Donaldson trademarks of un-heroic, often disadvantaged characters trying somehow to come to terms with difficult situations or tortured existances. Aragorn son of Arathorn, heir to Elendil they most certainly are not.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit and highly reccomend it.