Review – Stephen Donaldson – The Illearth War

So, Thomas Covenant has returned to his own world only to become even more hated just for being alive and having an illness that will eventually kill him if the residents don’t first.

With his mind reeling at the intrusion of his ‘dream’ Covenant begins to unravel. Not surprising. He spends three weeks battling with reality and the growing rejection of his own world until an accident renders him unconscious and he wakes up once again in The Land. This time however the stakes are much higher, so to defend himself Thomas Covenant builds his barriers even deeper to keep the unreality from seeping in. The Land is thrust into the titular Illearth War from which, somehow, Covenant must escape intact.

He quickly surmises that either he or the one who summoned must die in order for him to escape back to his own world. Therein lies the greatest emotional turmoil that the cowardly Covenant has to face. I’ll not give any spoilers no review ever should, but his choice is would not be easy for anyone to make.

The Ravers are ravaging the land. War is everywhere. A second person has been summoned to The Land from Covenant’s world but he is only too willing to take up his place and fight for the good of The Land. War is everywhere, death surrounds all but still a demand is placed on Thomas Covenant that he cannot resist – ah Unbeliever what is the truth of your heart? That is the deepest question the Thomas Covenant must answer if, indeed, he can.

Yet again Stephen Donaldson has produced an outstanding work that flows straight on from the first. The rich tapestry that makes up The Land is continually woven with ever increasing majesty. Though at times I found myself reaching for a dictionary and then wishing that simpler, more down to earth words had been used. Not once was my enjoyment spoiled by my limited vocabulary, the story is too strong for that.

Battles ebb and flow like a ceaseless tide across the pages that must at times be read thoroughly so as not to miss the slightest passion of the writer. Take your time when reading the world of Mr Donaldson, his are not the comfort books of Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, his are works of art there to be admired and beheld.

Another book deserving of full marks.


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