Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Last Dark (Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Book 4) by Stephen R. Donaldson

Mulluane | Thursday, October 17, 2013 | 1 Comment so far

By Stephen R. Donaldson



Compelled step by step to actions whose consequences they could neither see nor prevent, Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery have fought for what they love in the magical reality known only as "the Land." Now they face their final crisis.

Reunited after their separate struggles, they discover in each other their true power--and yet they cannot imagine how to stop the Worm of the World’s End from unmaking Time.

Nevertheless they must resist the ruin of all things, giving their last strength in the service of the world's continuance.

*Blurb Source*: Penguin
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Last Dark (Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Book 4) by Stephen R. Donaldson
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The Last Dark
| ISBN-10: 0399159207
| ISBN-13: 9780399159206
| Hardcover Edition: 592 pages
| Genre: Epic Fantasy-Dark Fantasy
| Source: Librarything/Putnam/Review Requested
| Cover Design: Meighan Cavanaugh
| First Edition (October 15, 2013)
| Publisher: Putnam Adult
| Read a PDF Excerpt
| Rating: 5 Stars

Epic Fantasy ARC Review by Mulluane

My Thoughts. I don't remember exactly when I discovered Lord Foul's Bane, the first book in this extensive series, but I do know it was shortly after graduating high school. In the ensuing years since, this series has become like a familiar friend. It has both taught and reassured me that when people make mistakes, bad choices, or commit unforgivable acts, redemption and forgiveness are still possible. It was never a comfortable series to read but the lessons taught were priceless.

Finally the series has reached its conclusion and what an ending! Just like the series as a whole, this concluding book is a dark, tense, twisting, turning, page flipping adventure that keeps you guessing right up until the last pages. Just like its predecessors, this book has wisdom to impart, moral dilemmas to explore, plus tragedy and triumph in equal measures. Long after finishing the last page, you will find yourself pondering the choices made, the actions taken and the resulting consequences. This is truly a drama that will grab you and never let you go.

What I liked. It is hard to put into words everything I love about this tale. This is more than a story, it is a full-fledged journey on many many levels. Nothing is taboo. Faith is compared to despair, loyalty to betrayal, self-doubt to self-revelation, possession to free choice, fear to courage, and love to loss. This book evoked in me every strong emotion possible. I laughed, I teared up, I cheered, I got angry, I got frustrated, I even caught my foot swinging back and forth as I held my breath waiting on the outcome of a tense scene. I did not just read this book, I lived it.

While I will not discuss the ending in any type of detail I will say it satisfied. I will also note that at no point during the book did I have a clue about how it would end. This is not, nor has it ever been, a story with easy answers and sometimes there are no answers at all. Instead there is often nothing but blind, unwavering faith and the knowledge that on occasion doing something, even if it is wrong, is better than doing nothing at all.

I'd also like to note that this is some of the tightest writing I have ever seen. No words are wasted. Five words are never used where three will suffice. It occurred to me as I read this book that the concise, to the point nature of the writing added immeasurably to the overall tensions inherent to the plots. Interesting enough though, on the few occasions where places of unsurpassed beauty are portrayed, these same short phrases were amazingly expressive. I was impressed to say the least.

What didn't I like? The same tension that makes this book such a page turner is also its greatest weakness. Over the years characters have been added and subtracted with more of the former than the latter. In the early years of this series we mainly had Thomas Covenant plus the companions and enemies he made along the way. As the series progressed, more primary characters were added with their own challenges, friends and enemies. The end result was a very busy conclusion with a lot of ground to cover. It was a bit overwhelming at times. This is not helped by the fact that the entire series was 35 years in the making. Despite the "What has gone before" section included at the beginning of the book, I found myself reaching for memories of previous books in order to fully understand what was going on now. I did not always succeed.

The only other thing that bothered me is very minor but annoying nonetheless. Stephen R. Donaldson is obviously a highly educated man. Now I like to think that I have a fairly good vocabulary but he continuously proved me wrong. There are a lot of words in this book that I had to look up because I honestly had never encountered them before and the sentence did not give me enough clues to puzzle out their meaning. Time spent looking up words like sendaline, pellucid and obdurate, jerked me out of the story. Granted I learned new words, which is always a good thing, but only useful if I ever have ocassion to see them again.

Conclusion. If you like dark fantasy that explores deep psychological issues, where you get to know the characters on an intimate level, and where no sacrifice is too great as long as you are fighting to preserve what you love, this is the series for you. If, on the other hand, you have read everything up to this point, I think you will revel in discovering how everything turns out. Either way, this is a series I have always thought belonged on every Epic, Dark Fantasy book shelf and this satisfying conclusion cements that opinion. I do wish to reiterate a necessary caution, this is not a book you can read without reading the previous books in the series. While it does have a good recap at the beginning, it does not cover everything you need to know in order to enjoy this novel. That being said, I highly recommend both this book, and the entire series.

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Librarything 4.75/5


Amazon Rating 4.0 out of 5 stars
( 62 Customer Reviews)The Black Prism (Lightbringer: Book 1)


What Should I Read Next?
Read a revealing interview with Stephen R. Donaldson

Kindle: The Last Dark: The climax of the entire Thomas Covenant Chronicles (Last Chronicles of Thomas Cove)The Last Dark by Stephen R. Donaldson

Audible: Yes

Buy Book: AbeBooks - BAM

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Epic Fantasy Book Review of The Last Dark (Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Book 4) by Stephen R. Donaldson - Reviewed by Mulluane - on October 17, 2013 - Rating: 5 of 5 Stars




Mulluane is a 55-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

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Dragons, Heroes and Wizards

1 comment :

  1. I loved the original Thomas Covenant trilogy. I also enjoyed the next three books. I read the first book of this new series so I must finish them. Your review has reminded me to check it out. I too was at University when these books came out and they were really excellent. I didn't like Mordant's Need though. I really struggled with those.

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