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The Illearth War (The Chronicles of Thomas…

The Illearth War (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever) (original 1977; edition 1996)

by Stephen R. Donaldson

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3,547271,491 (3.82)33
Title:The Illearth War (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever)
Authors:Stephen R. Donaldson
Info:Voyager (1996), Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:Fantasy, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever

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The Illearth war by Stephen R. Donaldson (1977)



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** spoiler alert **

The Illearth War is just more of the same. Whereas in my previous review I excused Donaldson for being tedious because it was the first book in the series and required a certain amount of introductory information, he has thusfar failed to add any level of excitement. The reader's feeling of "leaving the story just as soon as something interesting has happened" becomes stronger, and more disappointing.

Some things felt too obvious, and perhaps it was intended to be that way, in order to let the reader feel like they know something about the book, only to throw them off later. Things such as the High Lord's lineage, which are not stated immediately, but are obvious to even the casual reader. As the reader, I kept waiting for there to be some sort of immense, plot-shattering surprise, and was frustrated when I did not find one.

A new aspect in this book that was not present in Lord Foul's Bane was shifting perspectives. Despite being called "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever," the reader finds herself sucked into a new character's mind for the majority of the story: Warmark Hile Troy. While Troy is not incredibly unlikeable, his side of the story is nothing more than a grueling marching pace - literally, the reader spends half the book watching the Land's army march. I found it to be draggy and unexciting, and perhaps this is a reader's fault, since I have been raised in the world of instant gratification and over-dramatacism... but the lengthy descriptions of Troy's inability to come up with a sufficient battle plan and the struggles of the army to march fast enough without dying becomes tedious.

There are some aspects of the book that are more interesting than in the first in the trilogy. For example, instead of giving a long speech to explain an event, there is a point where Donaldson chooses to use a flashback. This flashback is considerably more interesting than the alternative (and, unfortunately, a little more exciting than most the rest of the book).

Once again, as the reader, I found myself disappointed as, at the end, the action was only just beginning, but Covenant was being sucked back into his world and the book had ended, just as the "good part" was starting. No resolution, yet again. ( )
  Morteana | Mar 20, 2016 |
This book is a major reason my reading stalled out… It’s so hard to get through a book when you don’t like the characters. Everyone seems to think that the Thomas Covenant books are classic fantasy, but I just have a lot of trouble getting into them. It’s a really unique idea to have a leper at the center of the story, but the character of Thomas Covenant pushes the troupe of the reluctant hero past the point of tolerance. If you can’t relate to or even like the protagonist the story is going to have trouble keeping your attention. (Which by the way, is why my husband can’t stand NCIS… he thinks that same way about Gibbs.) Plus the not so subtle incest lust side story in this book really turned me off. ( )
  Rosenectur | Mar 19, 2016 |
Several weeks after his return to our world from The Land, the leper Thomas Covenant is taking a phone call from his ex-wife Joan when he falls and hits his head, waking to find himself back in the Land, in the chamber of the Council of Lords of Revelstone.

Angered by the fact that he has been transported away from "reality", Covenant nevertheless believes he is once again experiencing a dream or delusion due to his head injury. His hypothesis is supported by the fact that the Land has seen the passing of forty years compared to the few weeks that have passed in his own world: the High Lord of the Council is Elena, the daughter of Lena and the product of Covenant's rape (though he does not know this when he first returns), and now, Covenant's summoner. Elena shows no ill-will towards her biological father, and she and Covenant become close friends.

Elena explains that the evil Lord Foul has assembled a massive army, with which he now threatens the people of The Land. For forty years, the Lords have dedicated themselves to the study of Kevin's Lore, training new students at the school at the tree city of Revelwood. Only Mhorham remains from those who had sat on the council during the quest for the Staff of Law, but seven others have taken their place at the council, having mastered both the magical and martial arts. The horse-tending Ramen have been enlisted to patrol the frontier near Foul's dominions. The Warward, the army of Revelstone, is full of battle-ready volunteers and is led by Hile Troy, who came to the Land from Covenant's world. An attempt was even made to attack Lord Foul directly, via a commando raid on his lair at the Land's eastern edge; although the raid, led by Lord Mhoram, failed, valuable knowledge was gained about Foul's forces.

The commander of Foul's army is one of three brothers of the race of Giants, a people previously thought incorruptible. With the aid of the powerful Illearth Stone, Foul's non-corporeal servants the Ravers have possessed the three brothers, now renamed Kinslaughterer, Fleshharrower and Satansfist. In shame and despair, the other Giants offer no resistance as Kinslaughterer murders them all in their home city. Thus, the Lords have lost their strongest and bravest ally in the fight against evil.

Nevertheless, the Lords resolve to meet the enemy on the battlefield. Hile Troy is a genius in military tactics who has a mystical form of sight granted when hurtloam was used to try and "heal" his lack of eyes. (The hurtloam used to heal Covenant's head injury also has the effect of "curing" his leprosy). While Troy leads the army to confront Fleshharrower's attacking force, Elena and Covenant go in search of the Seventh Ward, a repository of ancient magical power which Elena believes will ensure victory.

Covenant, Elena and their two Bloodguard protectors journey through the remote mountain region on the western frontier of the Land to the hiding place of the Ward. Elena gains the power, but foolishly uses it to summon the long dead High Lord Kevin from his grave, and send him against Lord Foul. This act breaks the Law of Death, the barrier preventing the souls of the dead from interfering in the world of the living. Kevin's spirit is easily defeated and then enslaved by Foul wielding the Illearth Stone, and commanded to destroy Elena. The two High Lords engage in a battle of magic, in which Elena and her Bloodguard are defeated and killed, and the Staff of Law lost again. Covenant is able to save himself and his Bloodguard by using the power of his white gold ring, again without understanding how.

Meanwhile Hile Troy has been forced into a desperate retreat by the superior force of the Raver's army to the edge of a dangerous, forbidding forest known as Garroting Deep. In desperation, he begs the aid of Caerroil Wildwood, an immortal Forestal who is charged with protecting the ancient forests of the Land from the Ravers. Wildwood brings the forest to life, totally destroying Foul's army, and personally "garrotes" Fleshharrower. The victory is a Pyrrhic one, however: the Lords' army is nearly obliterated, and Hile Troy has sacrificed himself as the price for the Forestal's aid, becoming Wildwood's immortal apprentice.

The war thus ends in a draw, and with the death of High Lord Elena his summoner, Covenant once again returns to his own world. His ex-wife has long since hung up the phone, and he is a leper once more.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Stephen Donaldson takes Thomas Covenant on another strange journey through the Land. The second book in the series is much better than the first, which the first was great already. It introduces more aspects of the world, but doesn't it in a more organic way. The first book has Thomas Covenant getting told many stories about the Land, while in Illearth War he learns more about actually being involved. The plot of this book also moves much quicker and has a bit more originality to it. Thomas Covenant character grows, and while he still laments the way we all know and love, it isn't so repetitive. There is also a second protagonist in this book that creates a refreshing look at the Land through different eyes. While the series so far has a recurring theme, the characters are so great that it really pulls you in. ( )
1 vote renbedell | Oct 1, 2015 |
There I was, trapped with nothing to read. And there was this thick Fantasy series by a writer I hadn't heard of, Stephen Donaldson. And this is the middle volume. It's no better than the first, and that's "Nae sa Guid!" I know he has fans, but I'm sorry for your lives. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jun 9, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Donaldson, Stephen R.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goodfellow, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyeth, S. C.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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That beauty and truth should pass utterly
For James R. Donaldson, M.D., whose life expressed compassion and commitment more eloquently than any words.
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By the time Thomas Covenant reached his house the burden of what had happened to him had already become intolerable.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345348664, Mass Market Paperback)

The second volume in the epic Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.
Thomas Covenant found himself once again summoned to the Land. The Council of Lords needed him to move against Foul the Despiser who held the Illearth Stone, ancient source of evil power. But although Thomas Covenant held the legendary ring, he didn't know how to use its strength, and risked losing everything....

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:46 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Thomas Covenant aids the inhabitants of the Land in their desperate struggle against the evil forces of Lord Foul the Despiser.

(summary from another edition)

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