Runes of the Earth – Stephen Donaldson

Runes of the EarthBook seven in the saga and … it is very different. For a one there is no Thomas Covenant. Instead the dilemma of the white gold is taken up by Linden Avery which was obvious after the last book as Covenant had died in his own world.

10 years later and Linden Avery now has an adopted who was one of the children used to summon Covenant to The Land last time around. Roger Covenant is all grown up and seeking to take control of his stricken mother, Joan. Through a long and bloody series of events Roger Covenant, his mad mother, Linden Avery, and her adopted son are all dragged off into the land by Lord Foul. So begins the last chronicle of Thomas Covenant.

This book differs from all the others in one major way, there are no lengthy, whining, navel gazing introspections. Sure there are times when Linden has to realise that Foul is trying his age old mind games. She however cannot freely use the power of the white gold, neither does she posses the Staff of Law so she has no power at all that she can throw around at her enemies of which there are plenty.

There are indeed many dangers: Anele – the son of Sunder and Hollian a being born of Earthpower. Esmer the child of a Haruchai and merewife. Demondim called back through time aided by the power of the Illearth stone. Joan Covenant possessed of a raver with access to her white gold. Roger Covenant is out there somewhere as is Jeremiah, Linden’s own son. Caesures – roaming time vortexes. Kevin’s Dust that hangs like a pall over the land shrouding earth sight.

The Haruchai are the guardians of the Land though they have kept everyone in the dark about the history of the Land and its Earthpower.  There are the last of Waynhim and ur-viles, the Ramen and the Ranyhyn. There are mentions of Sandgorgons and Elohim, the voice of Thomas Covenant calling to Linden Avery and even the giants are out there somewhere.

So with all that to contend with what we really have is a seriously long prologue to the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever white gold wielder and Earthfriend. The story is more upbeat than any of its predecessors largely due to the absence of the aforementioned whining. It is still told in the same style so it drops seamlessly into the lore of the Land adding more to great depth and drawing much from what has gone before. I hope that you have been paying attention to all the names and details as you are going to need more than a simple glossary of terms to navigate this one.

I did enjoy this instalment, not as much as the last but as I have said it feels to me that it is much of pre-amble. Enjoyable: yes, but, there is no closure to anything what so ever. The book lacks any punch at all, however the next: Fatal Revenant will begin with one.

As much as I enjoyed it I am going to have to mark it down for its non-event finale. 6/10

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