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The Wounded Land by Stephen R. Donaldson
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Ten years have passed since the end of the first Chronicles. After his experiences in the Land, Thomas Covenant has resumed his career as a writer. He is still isolated from society, but he has come to terms with that and with the other mental and physical consequences of his leprosy.

The story begins by presenting us with a new main character, with the first few chapters being told from her point of view. Linden Avery is a doctor who has moved to Covenant's hometown to take a position at the local hospital. Her traumatic childhood and rigorous medical training have left her emotionally isolated from other people. In her own way, she is as much an outsider in society as Covenant.

The chief of staff at the hospital (who also appears briefly in the first Chronicles) asks her to check up on Covenant. Linden, reluctantly, drives to Covenant's house outside of town. On the way, she sees an elderly man in an ocher robe collapse by the side of the road. Using CPR, she revives him: he makes a number of cryptic pronouncements and walks off, telling her to "be true".

Confused and disturbed by this strange encounter, Linden continues on to Covenant's house. Although he initially brushes her off, she is persistent, and finds that Covenant's estranged wife has returned to him, but that she is under the influence of a cult of worshipers of Lord Foul, who has found a way to exert his influence in Covenant's world.

After Covenant is possibly mortally wounded by one of Foul's dupes in the "real" world, he loses consciousness and hears a familiar voice: Lord Foul's. Taunting Covenant that there is "more despair bound up for you than your petty mortal heart can bear", Foul vows that he will have his final revenge on Covenant and the Land.

He awakes to find that both he and Linden have been transported to the Land - to Kevin's Watch, the mountain at the Land's south frontier where he was first summoned by Drool Rockworm ten years before. His wound has been healed - somehow Covenant was able to use the "wild magic" of his white gold ring, although he had no conscious control over the process. Descending from the Watch, he also finds that a terrible change has transpired: four thousand years have passed, the Earthpower is gone, or nearly gone, and the people of the Land are out of touch with what remains of it. The Land is afflicted with the Sunbane, a disruption of the physical order which alternately causes rain, desert, pestilence and unnatural fertility to wreak havoc on man, animals and nature.

The people of the Land have turned to human sacrifice as a means of harnessing the power of the Sunbane: shortly after their arrival, Covenant and Linden are taken prisoner and condemned to be "shed". They escape, but shortly thereafter Covenant is bitten by a monster. Linden, who has become imbued with a form of clairvoyance which allows her to perceive the fundamental nature of people and things in this world (which, with her medical training, she comes to think of as her "health-sense") is able to save Covenant from a life-threatening infection, but the venom from the bite leaves Covenant unable to control the destructive power of the wild magic.

Despite these difficulties, Covenant and Linden Avery join with Sunder and Hollian, a man and woman of the Land, to travel to Revelstone to challenge the corrupt new rulers of the Land, the Clave. On the journey, Covenant meets with the Forestal Caer-Caveral (formerly Warmark Hile Troy) and the spirits of the long-dead characters of the First Chronicles, who provide him with rather cryptic advice concerning the plight of the Land. Saltheart Foamfollower gives Covenant something more: Vain, a creation of the Ur-Viles, who accompanies Covenant to Revelstone. (Linden, Sunder, and Hollian have already been captured by the Clave and imprisoned there.) Once there, Covenant agrees to undertake a soothtell, a ritual of divination by blood. Before Covenant can defend himself the Clave's minions open his veins: this triggers the ritual. Covenant thus discovers that the cause of the current condition of the Land is the destruction of the Staff of Law, which he himself had wrought. Without the strength of the Staff to protect it, the Earthpower itself has been corrupted by Lord Foul, hence the Sunbane.

Covenant also discovers that the leader of the Clave, the na-Mhoram, is a Raver, one of Lord Foul's immortal, incorporeal servants. As each new na-Mhoram succeeds the last, the Raver takes possession, ensuring that the Clave continues to maintain the Banefire which strengthens the Sunbane. The Banefire is fed by copious quantities of blood: among the victims held by the Clave for future sacrifice are a group of Haruchai, the descendants of the race which formerly served the Land as the Bloodguard. Covenant frees the Bloodguard and his friends but, due to his power-madness combined with his blood loss, is unable to singlehandedly battle the combined power of the Clave, and thus is forced to leave Revelstone.

Revelstone is located at the western limit of the Land; beyond is only mountainous wastes. Hence, Covenant sets out east. As they approach the seacoast at the eastern edge of the Land, the travellers encounter a party of Giants, of the same race as Foamfollower's long-dead people. Covenant, Avery, Vain, and four of the Haruchai take ship with the Giants in search of a solution to the matter of the Staff of Law, leaving Sunder and Hollian in the Land to try to gather resistance to the Clave in preparation for the final battle.

( )
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Having enjoyed the first Chronicles of Thomas Covenant so much I could not resist diving straight into the second. Within a few pages you soon discover that this chronicles has been written as single story instead of three connected ones. How so? Well, this book does not come to a satisfying conclusion as all three previous did. There is a significant event near to the end of the book but it is not conclusive – no closure.
Thomas Covenant is still rages against himself while still learning to control his wild magic. Now though he does display moments of power that are capable of sundering the earth wide open. Through events in his own world he now has a travelling companion who has ‘issues’ of her own not too dissimilar at root to Covenant’s own.
The Wounded Land then, is in reality one seriously long prologue without which the rest of the chronicles would actually collapse into mediocrity. I say this because at the time of writing this review I am well into the next part and enjoying more because of the lengthy intro. There is a lot more subtly to the story’s deeper reaches.
The Land itself is a ruin of its former glory which tears at the heart of Thomas Covenant driving him to restore that land that he feels responsible for destroying. A vile and corrupted sun keeps the under its bane shifting between ravenous forms. The fierce heat that desecrates: the verdant sun that enforces wild growth, and the pestilent sun the withers life to a diseased pulp. Revelstone is in the hands of a Raver feeding the Sunbane with the blood of the people.
Covenant knows that the only hope is to restore the Law, to do that he will need to re-make the Staff of Law and thus the quest is born. A quest that will take him from one side of the land to the other and back again until at last he reaches the sea and ship-full of giants seeking to cure the ill of the earth.
So, as you can see there is a lot to get through in a single book, so fittingly, Stephen Donaldson does not try to cram it all in. Instead he spreads it out over a whole saga and digs deep into the psyche of Covenant, Linden, and a whole host of giants.
In short I found this book to be the best so far, not because of the story but because of its expanding detail and greater depth.
( )
  MathewBridle | May 4, 2015 |
One of the things one should watch for while reading, to tell whether or not one is perusing literature rather than entertainment, is character development. Mr. Donaldson hasn't bothered to move Thomas Covenant to a different head-space than the one inhabited by the misanthrope explored in the first three novels. That being said, we come to the matter of entertainment value. Thomas covenant is not entertaining, and while the world constructed by Donaldson in the first three volumes is complicated, it is neither intriguingly complex, nor attractive to me. I haven't read anything by Stephen since, nor felt the desire to. ( )
  DinadansFriend | May 1, 2014 |
Easily one of the worst books I've ever read. ( )
  sisyphist | Nov 30, 2013 |
I struggled with the black mood of this series, although I found the world building and characters kept me involved. ( )
  Scribble.Orca | Mar 31, 2013 |
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Stephen R. Donaldsonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Voor Lester Del Rey: Lester heeft er voor gezorgd dat ik dit schreef
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When Linden Avery heard the knock at her door, she groaned aloud.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345348680, Mass Market Paperback)

Four thousand years have passed since Covenant first freed the Land from the devastating grip of Lord Foul and his minions. But he is back, and Convenant, armed with his stunning white gold magic, must battle the evil forces and his own despair....

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:51 -0400)

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Returning to the fantastic land where he had routed the evil Lord Foul, Thomas Covenant, now a legendary hero, must once again take up the quest to destroy the land's sinister forces.

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