Book Review – The Power That Preserves – Stephen Donaldson

The Power that Preserves is the third part of the Thomas Covenant series and the end of the first trilogy. Simply put: a great book. The Unbeliever comes of age at last and accepts that he has a purpose in life other than to survive. He confesses his love for the Land into the face of lord Foul the Despiser and then simply tells him that it does not exist. Thus he unlocks the paradox to the wild magic.

War is everywhere in Land but everywhere that Thomas Covenant goes he is faced with the memory of those that he, in his own eyes, has slain. Those that he loved, cherished, and abused to meet his own need and denial of the Land. And it would seem that the Land itself believes in Thomas Covenant to the point where it ensures that he fulfils his declaration to destroy Lord Foul. At some point or other every place that means anything is assaulted and destroyed by Foul’s Ravers until only Covenant remains standing amid the protection of his unbelief. When Covenant and Foul finally stand toe to toe and duel for the very existence of the Land we are treated to one of the most spectacular magic battles ever written. The power in the passages that depict the final confrontation make Lord Voldermort pale into insignificance. Here is magic running wild, pure evil battling the paradox between love and denial with a conclusion so satisfying that I doubt anyone will better it.

There is movie called Avatar that borrows heavily upon the themes in the series, so much so that I find it impossible to believe that it was not the foundational influence for that tale. In the Land people ‘see’ one another; they see the heart, the wholeness, the power, and the deep truths. They are all one with the Land, a land that is sentient. There is the One Tree, the one forest and the great spirit – the Creator. Too many things that work in the same way to be coincidental. But Stephen Donaldson tells it with much more detail and passion. It’s as though he walks the land and ‘sees’ its people. He is a writer that lives his stories and thus brings them to life.

In summation, the trilogy is a triumph of storytelling: epic in its truest sense.

A thoroughly deserved 10 out of 10



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.