Having enjoyed the first Chronicles of Thomas Covenant so much I could not resist diving straight into the second. Within a few pages you soon discover that this chronicles has been written as single story instead of three connected ones. How so? Well, this book does not come to a satisfying conclusion as all three previous did. There is a significant event near to the end of the book but it is not conclusive – no closure.
Thomas Covenant is still rages against himself while still learning to control his wild magic. Now though he does display moments of power that are capable of sundering the earth wide open. Through events in his own world he now has a travelling companion who has ‘issues’ of her own not too dissimilar at root to Covenant’s own.
The Wounded Land then, is in reality one seriously long prologue without which the rest of the chronicles would actually collapse into mediocrity. I say this because at the time of writing this review I am well into the next part and enjoying more because of the lengthy intro. There is a lot more subtly to the story’s deeper reaches.
The Land itself is a ruin of its former glory which tears at the heart of Thomas Covenant driving him to restore that land that he feels responsible for destroying. A vile and corrupted sun keeps the under its bane shifting between ravenous forms. The fierce heat that desecrates: the verdant sun that enforces wild growth, and the pestilent sun the withers life to a diseased pulp. Revelstone is in the hands of a Raver feeding the Sunbane with the blood of the people.
Covenant knows that the only hope is to restore the Law, to do that he will need to re-make the Staff of Law and thus the quest is born. A quest that will take him from one side of the land to the other and back again until at last he reaches the sea and ship-full of giants seeking to cure the ill of the earth.
So, as you can see there is a lot to get through in a single book, so fittingly, Stephen Donaldson does not try to cram it all in. Instead he spreads it out over a whole saga and digs deep into the psyche of Covenant, Linden, and a whole host of giants.
In short I found this book to be the best so far, not because of the story but because of its expanding detail and greater depth.