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Customer Review

on January 7, 2000
"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.

I've thought about the question of whether or not Covenant was actually taken to a fantasy Land or just imagined it in his diseased brain. Most readers I've spoken with believe that we, the readers, are to accept that the Land exists independently of Covenant and that he is simply taken there because he is their legendary hero. I feel, however, that there is no evidence to back this up, and there is a great deal of evidence to support the idea that the Land is all in his head, and all the people and parts of it are metaphorical representations of aspects of Covenant's mind.

Either way, the story is a great epic fantasy series, and I encourage people to put personal judgement of the character aside (he's SUPPOSED to be despicible!) and enjoy the series for its own merit.
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