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Fatal Revenant (2007)

Fatal Revenant (2007)

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3.79 of 5 Votes: 4
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0399154469 (ISBN13: 9780399154461)
g.p. putnam's sons

About book Fatal Revenant (2007)

The disappointment I feel over The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant so far is like an innominate puissance that has left my love for Stephen R. Donaldson quite frangible. (If you have read the book, you’ll understand the obscure word choices.) tLike many others, I am a huge fan of the first two chronicles, but also, as for many others, the first two books of the last chronicles have been a chore to get through. I had hoped that Fatal Revenant would outshine Runes of the Earth, but that was not the case for me. I can't honestly say that it was worse, but I gave it two stars instead of three, because it continued on with the same flaws and my tolerance for it has waned.tMy hopes for the series are pretty dashed right now. Fatal Revenant had its moments where I hoped the old wild magic would return, but they were sadly short-lived. Most of the book was a sad and boring shadow of what a visit to the Land used to hold.tI'm not going to go into detail about the repetitiveness or about Linden's whining and indecision. Like many reviewers, I never cared for Linden much in the second chronicles, so having her as the protagonist has been a challenge. Nor will I belabor the fact that it is overwritten and frankly, just not as exciting and brilliant as the first six books. Many reviewers have already said these things.tInstead, I'm going to address the apparent loss of language skill of the author. Granted, much of the description of landscapes and the like are still top-notch and beautiful, and as I said in my review of Runes, he creates some very unique scenarios. but I took some notes regarding specific word usage and phrases which really had me cringing. I know many of Donaldson's fans are huge defenders of his use of obscure words. I have nothing against such usage, but are these fans looking these words up? Seriously, sometimes he makes no sense now. So for those of you who haven't read it yet... minor spoilers ahead. I don't expose any plot points though, so it's really pretty safe.tOn page 73 (of my paperback), he writes of "Glimmermere's lacustrine potency." The word "lacustrine" sounds so complex and interesting, like it might mean "luster" or "sparkling" or "gem-like," but no, it means "having to do with a lake." Uh... if you are even half awake reading the book, you know that Glimmermere is a lake! What a completely useless descriptor.tHere's another one: on page 228, he writes, "Tears ran like stridulation down her cheeks." Like a shrill, grating sound? Really? That makes no sense. Is he trying to say "stripes"? He seems to just be throwing words in there and hoping no one looks them up.tOn page 285, there is a blatantly incongruous sentence, which is something that I can't stand. It just shows sheer laziness on the part of the author. Near the top of the page, talking about the Mahdoubt's eyes, he writes, "Then Linden saw that the left was a dark and luminous blue, the right a disconcerting orange." At the bottom of the same page, he writes, "For a moment, her orange eye searched Linden while her right regarded the flame." Her right eye was the orange eye a minute ago! And no, her eye color doesn't switch. In Runes of the Earth (page 473, if you want to look it up), it also says, "Her left was the rich blue of violets, but her right held a startling orange..." These sorts of lazy mistakes take me right out of the book. tOn page 468, there is another misuse of a word. He writes, "the plash of her boots in the risible current seemed loud." I assume he is trying to say "laughing current," but "risible" does not mean "laughing," it means "laughable" or "causing to laugh." Did he find the current funny? Again, this makes no sense.tSome of the new giant names are certainly risible though. I thought Onyx Stonemage was pretty lame, but Exalt Widenedworld really takes the cake. Long gone are the days of powerful and beautiful names like Saltheart Foamfollower and Cable Seadreamer. tThe last little gripe I'll point out, is on page 562, where again he seems to be using a big word for no reason except that it's big, or maybe because it sounds cool and he hopes no one will look it up. He writes, "Andelain nurtured a tranquility as pervasive as mansuetude." Well, "mansuetude" means "gentleness" or "meekness." So not only is it borderline redundant, it also doesn't make much sense. Since when is gentleness or meekness pervasive? tSomeone could certainly make an artistic usage argument against the last one, but I think it would be a thin one. Or maybe I've just become so disenchanted that I can't give him the benefit of the doubt anymore. tIt saddens me that I am writing this, taking apart one of the favorite authors of my youth and young adulthood, an author who inspired me to write and who was partly responsible for my continued love of fantasy and reading in general. His epic stories of the Land have stayed with me, close to my heart, for years. As excited as I was when I heard he was writing another chronicles, I now wish he had left it alone so as to not taint my fond memory of it.tI have been determined to continue the slog through the last two books, but after this one, and after reading the reviews of Against All Things Ending, I am not so sure I can do it. I at least need a break. I think I need a complete left turn of genre too right now, just to clear my palate before I get back to any fantasy. I'm excited to get back to Joe Abercrombie's The First Law series. But no, right now, I think I'm going to read Bossypants by Tina Fey. I need to get as far away from this book as possible.

This is the twenty-ninth book I read on my commute, and after a nice break of four or five other books, a return to the fantasy genre.As I alluded to in a previous review, Fatal Revenant is the second book in a tetralogy (one of several series that I am currently in the middle of, which is what happens when you read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy as it's being published) called the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. The original Chronicles of Thomas Covenant was a trilogy published in the late 70's. My dad read those in paperback when he was commuting from Fishkill to NYC, and I can remember those books being around the house pretty much forever: the paintings on the covers were really striking. Some time around 5th grade I had become a voracious enough reader that I started reading the books as well. That was the mid-80's, right around the same time that the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant were being published. My dad and I read those in rapid succession. Now, twenty years later, Donaldson is returning to his mythic creations for one last go-round, so technically Fatal Revenant is the eighth book in what will ultimately be a ten book epic.It's strange to read about the same characters again, written by the same author, but now that I'm 33 instead of 11. I definitely grok the books more now - two hallmarks of Donaldson's style are that he uses a lot of obscure words (he constantly violates the "never use a big word when a small one will do" dictum, so much so that it pretty much becomes his signature style) and he deals with very adult themes (the books are about people from the real world who get sucked into a fantasy world, and how they nearly go insane reconciling their personal lives in the 'real' world, involving suicide and divorce and impotence and estrangement etc., with the magical Good-vs.-Evil world they visit). I remember the books being weirdly fascinating when I was much younger; now they are entertaining but a lot less alien-seeming. As I said, it's Donaldson returning to familiar terrain, which means there's really no doubt in my mind how it's going to end: the complicated people from the 'real world' will find a way, once again and against all odds, to defeat the evil Lord Foul who wants to destroy both the real and fantasy worlds. But I'm still intrigued to see *how* they go about vanquishing evil, even if the end result is never in question. And at this point, even if it's the same old story all over again, it's still nice to be reunited with old friends after a long absence.Running total for types of books read on the commute:Classics: 2Modern Lit: 9Fantasy/sci-fi: 13Non-fiction: 5

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VDonaldsons stories of the Land filled my teen years with great joy. Even in the wounded land when he caused me great pain. In his own words "the best way to hurt some one is to take away something they love and give it back broken."The Runes of the earth and its sequal Fatal Revenant continue this saga. thomas Covanant is dead and the torch is passed to his companion of the second trilogy Linden Avery.Frankly I was disappointed. I can hardly wait to see what happens but these are not Stephen Donalson's best work. Hopefully the promised final two enstallments are more fulfilling.

I loved the first Chronicles and applauded the second. The third Chronicles began in a cunning way, and I was eager to be swept away into the Land once again. But this book, Fatal Revenant, dragged at my heels.It could be cut by 400 pages and still tell the same story, and the excessive use of anachronistic (damn, he's doing it to me too now, I mean to say old) and downright obscure adjectives highlight the problem: Donaldson insists on telling us exactly what every single thing means, and every possible outcome, repeatedly, with painful precision. There is no space to wonder, to guess; to fill in the blanks in the writing: to be amazed. In the earlier books I enjoyed the poetry of the Land, the way the atmosphere of the story made me feel. There was a special beauty to the fact that the world was a dream-world which Covenant did not believe in. It was real but unreal--that ambiguity was essential to the magic of the book.But now the Land has become too real or too defined to be believable. Being the only world that exists for the lead character, it becomes a stock-fantasy story and reads like a fictionalised role-playing game with staged combat scenes. The plotting is arduous, with character motivations analysed so often that I became suspicious of the plot. I knew that if I stopped to think about it, I’d see that the characters probably wouldn’t do what they were doing unless the author had insisted that they did. It doesn’t ring true.There are some high-points, great fantasy inventions, wonderful wizardry and moments when Donaldson works his old magic to good effect, but on the whole I found I couldn't empathise with Linden Avery. I just didn't care what she did. Fatal Revenant also has tons of back-story. It's a classic case of 'show don't tell' gone wrong. I can't believe that anything Donaldson writes is accidental, but he has perhaps over-analysed this manuscript, filling it with reminders, patches and information readers ‘should know’. This exposition drags the whole series down. Linden is so insecure and uncertain. She is a woman of shallow emotions who is rather desperate as a heroine. The Extended Unabridged Chronicles of Linden Avery, the Chosen has become too tiresome for me.
—Greg Hamerton

As I said in my review of The Runes of the Earth, the first book in this Last Chronicles series could have been subtitled Arrogance. This second book in the series could be subtitled Apprehension because there's so much damn waffling. Linden wants to ask Covenant questions, hell she actually forms them in her mind, then asks something completely different. Why? I will say Donaldson's plotting has become much better with age, however I am not enjoying the pages and pages, chapters and chapters of hand-wringing and silent desperation and wondering without asking.And, of course, this is Stephen R. Donaldson, so we have to address his word choice. When I was a teenager and reading the first chronicles of everyone's favourite leper-hero, Donaldson's word choice enchanted and challenged me. And even today, I understand that the language is being used to suit the majesty of the Land and its various settings, but really...every so often, couldn't SRD toss in a "face" or "look" or "visage" instead of "mein"? Or "power" or "potency" instead of "puissance"? How about"perception" instead of "percipience" every damn time? How about telling us someone's skin crawled instead of tossing out "fomication" every time and making me think I'm reading "fornication"? Why be clear and reasonably concise when overwrought is so clearly an option? This last series could easily have been three books instead of the four. Ah well, eight books into a ten-book series, I can't stop now. That being said, I still stand by the series overall. The imagination, the majesty and the characters in these chronicles are still, to my mind, so much better than a lot of the fantasy dreck out there.If you're reading this review while considering whether or not to dive into the Covenant series (and really, overall, all sarcasm aside, you really should. I don't think there's been a better fantasy series since Lord of the Rings), you really should check out the rather challenging lexicon of SRD. You can do so at the excellent Stephen R. Donaldson Ate My Dictionary site.
—Tobin Elliott

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