Saturday, February 05, 2005

Hooked At Last

That was a reprise of an almost forgotten pattern! That picking up a fairly long, 500 page, tome on a Thursday afternoon and finishing late Friday night.

I was thinking that I may have grown out of this behaviour as I haven't gotten totally absorbed like that for quite some time. To some extent, it unsettled me to think that I may have passed beyond the boundary of being able to be intoxicated into another world. Now, I see that it is still possible.

What hooked me was Stephen Donaldson's, The Runes of the Earth. This, and its sequels, are to comprise The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I had read the first two series (each three volumes) many years ago and always thought that there was one more story that lay waiting to be told.

The Covenant Chronicles definitely fall into the fantasy genre: a genre that is not everybody's cuppa tea. They belong not, however, to The Lord of the Rings class, of which there are many emulators. That being said, however, all fantasy novels seem to hinge upon some sort of quest involving a struggle against overwhelming evil. These works are no different in that respect.

However, they are written on a much more adult level (no, not that kind of adult) where issues of good and evil are examined in some depth and where boundary lines are not as classically distinct. The protagonist, Covenant, is a flawed hero: a leper and not always a completely likable person who struggles to do right and sometimes fails.

Donaldson takes you into the mind of the protagonist to a depth that no other fantasy writer can match. He takes you into their inner thoughts and allows you to participate in their struggles and dilemmas. He sometimes draws me kicking and screaming, for I do not always like what I am reading, but draw me he does.

He also has an amazing vocabulary. He uses words that I don't come across anywhere else.

  • ... gave it an eldritch quality, almost an evanescence

  • She needed that reassurance to help her bear the inchoate conviction ...

  • Its presence was suppuration and horror ...

  • Outside the day had turned crepuscular ...

  • It was condign; it belonged.

Well, I think that kind of stuff is just great.

I'm not necessarily recommending this series. They are not for everybody. However, if you think you might like to try reading Donaldson, start with the very first book of the very first series, Lord Foul's Bane.

I really wanted to share my pleasure at getting hooked on a book — at last! I didn't set out to write a book review but ended up doing something much like that because it seemed necessary to explain a little something about what it was that hooked me.


1 comment:

Marykay said...

I love it when I get hooked! After my fourth child was born I grieved whatever little time I had before to read before he came. It seemed like forever until I had time again to get hooked. I still sacrifice sleep or chores to finish a book and that can happen only occasionally. Someday....