Book Review: Thomas Covenant: The One Tree – Stephen Donaldson

“Stone and Sea.” Can there be any more perilous a journey than that of Ur-Lord Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever and White Gold wielder Giantfriend? Could his title get any longer?

Linden Avery now moves slowly to the fore as the questers sail the seas hounded by a Raver that assails them at the worst possible times. Wild storms blast the Starfare’s Gem across the ocean forcing the crew – Linden – to choose anchorage at the land of the Bhrathiarain when yet more challenges await them. Here’s tip – if you are ever transported into The Land never wear white gold as every single bad guy wants it and will do what they can to make you give it to them.

After the questers escape from the Bhrathairelm minus a few crew members that succumb to one of the most brutal monsters yet, they head straight for the Isle of The One Tree. I am off course cutting huge swathes out of the story out as it would be too easy to give away spoilers to those who have not read the book. I so hate reviews that do that. There is a lot of action in this book of many types on many levels. There is much navel gazing and introspection which we have come to expect; especially now that we have two similar natured leading characters. There is also love in the world.

The One Tree then, is a greatly detailed look at the inner workings of Thomas Covenant, Linden Avery, the Haruchai and the Giants – of whom – I must confess – I have a particular soft spot for. The mythical Elohim are not what seem either and had sent their Appointed to watch over Thomas Covenant and try and talk him out of his ring (see what I mean, even the ‘good guys’ are at it.) Ultimately they reach their destination and attempt to obtain a piece of The One Tree with which to craft a new Staff of Law.

As with the previous book, The Wounded Land, this one is a part of a story and sails straight on into the next book making the experience feel much more like a single story broken into more manageable pieces like The Lord of The Rings. Was I satisfied with where the break came? Yes, I was, enough. I would have hated waiting umpteen years for the sequel though. Hopefully by the time I reach the last of the current series the final book will be out.

Another well crafted tale peppered with words that I’ve never heard of  and would never use as some are just clever versions of perfectly good normal ones, for example: puissance – power. Some words reoccur with frightening regularity: mien, thickly, gaunt and many more. At the end of all things do I care? No. I just read for entertainment so I let it all wash by like the Nicor of the deep.

Another fine tale 8/10


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