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The Power That Preserves (1987)

The Power That Preserves (1987)

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3.98 of 5 Votes: 3
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0345348672 (ISBN13: 9780345348678)
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About book The Power That Preserves (1987)

My reviewing vocabulary is not the strongest. Is it considered "overwritten" when an author takes way too long building up every plot point while simultaneously having too many plot points to begin with? Or is "overwritten" just when a writer uses language that is conspicuously ornate, such as "inanition" when "hunger" will do? Or maybe it could apply to both issues? I'm just trying to figure out the best way to describe the main issues I have upon completing this book. I think overwriting can explain a lot of them.The thing is, this kept me turning pages the entire time, but turning pages angrily, because each page contained almost as much to piss me off as it did to keep me reading. Entire paragraphs of internal dialogue, or setting, or tension-building. . . at one point a half-page wasted of Covenant trying to get Foamfollower to abandon him when everyone knows that will never happen. I think the incessant stakes-raising is what really bugged me. You can't just have Triock traveling for days to send a message. You have to have him traveling through a blizzard and battling a pack of wolves. Everything that any character struggles to do, they have to struggle inhumanly to do. You would think this would make events more impressive but it really just takes you out of the book by making everything completely ridiculous. Tension is actually diminished because you know the characters are capable of basically anything. For example, broken ankles abound, and they are apparently not too serious because people can still walk for leagues on them and even do battle. The only real effect seems to be that the character thinks about them for long lines while doing all of the journeying and fighting.Why do this then? I can only suspect that Donaldson didn't trust his story enough to captivate his audience on its own. It's a shame really if he thought so because he was dead wrong. The story in general is great, and combined with some of the strongest characters from the 1st book there's a solid foundation here for a wonderful novel. But man, there are whole episodes that could have been cut. Most of that Triock mess, for example. The Pietten/Morinmoss Healer episodes could have been drastically reduced. (Why do we need to see magical healing spiders if an actual Healer is about to come anyway?) Many pages of Revelstone-sieging could have been excised. And countless descriptions of hills, plains, ravines, caves, walking/running/stumbling, suffering from "inanition," being weak and unable to make it even one step further before making it many steps further, etc. Just way too much bloat. And that's before even mentioning T.C.'s still-annoying self-pity, which is mercifully toned down from the first two books (see my reviews here and here), but which still occupies entire paragraphs and sometimes pages that can be simply skipped without missing anything. I still just cannot empathize at all with someone who is plopped into this world and whose only action is to invent excuse after excuse about why he can't do anything. At some point you either get over it and start doing stuff, or you huddle into a little ball and cower until someone comes for your head. Stringing along the tension like Donaldson does is not only unrealistic, but it's unfairly tedious to us his readers. I'm happy to report that T.C. does indeed start doing stuff here, especially in the last half. Good on him.Overall I'm pretty disappointed in this series. I've seen it on lists of some of the greatest fantasy ever, but if this is the best that fantasy has to offer I'd have to say I'm just not a fantasy guy. I do like Donaldson's world-building (even if it's heavily indebted to Tolkien) and also the subversive aspect of having the protagonist be a non-hero, but there's too much other stuff (most of it related to poor writing IMO) in the way of good story. Here's another one: there is no mention of any biblical theology anywhere in the Land, yet some of the most feared villains are called Satans---. How does that make any sense?Anyway I'll stop. I'm not going to subject myself to anymore of this crap in the subsequent trilogies. I'd really appreciate it if someone can recommend me some good fantasy (I've read and enjoyed LOTR, Narnia and The Once and Future King, but little else). I think I might just be a sci-fi guy at heart.Cross-posted at Not Bad Movie and Book Reviews.

Donaldson’s work is hailed as one of the great fantasy works of all time. What sets it apart from most fantasy literature is how it sets itself apart from Tolkien’s work. Too many writers rely on Tolkien’s framework for a story. The heroes are all heroic. The mystical magical items are readily employed. The journeys from place to place are long and there is always the ultimate villain to slay. Donaldson’s hero, such as he is, is the antithesis of Tolkien’s hobbits. The reader loathes him because he is a self-pitying, whining, coward – and a rapist. He has no courage, no core values except his leper’s rules of survival. Conjuring Thomas Covenant and making the reader root for him is an accomplishment that puts Donaldson at the pinnacle of fantasy character creators. The other primary character in Covenant’s trilogy is the Land. Tolkien had his Middle Earth, but it was Middle Earth’s inhabitants we loved. Donaldson’s characters were not inhabitants; they were servants of the Land. The Land was the beginning and end of their purpose. From that purpose flowed power, unlike most fantasy literature where magic and power flow from a conjuring being. Finally, Donaldson writes a well plotted, well paced novel. Never are we in one place too long. Never are the characters too ponderous or given to overlong philosophical debate. The story stands well against any told in fantasy literature. I have to admit, Foul’s demise reminded me just a little of that horrible Star Trek episode, Day of the Dove, when the Enterprise crew and the Klingons who have invaded all drive out an alien life force by laughing at it. It’s not quite that foolish because Donaldson has set it up nicely. All through the trilogy, joy is center of all the characters’ lives. They live to bring joy to each other. They find joy in their service to the Land and the earthpower that flows from the Land brings them joy. It is not improper, therefore, for joy to be the ultimate weapon deployed against their tormentor. Donaldson’s trilogy was well received at the time. Liner notes praising the story come from legends of fantasy and science fiction such as Clifford Simak, Robert Bloch, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. That is high praise indeed. Few books have brought me as much pleasure as these. I don’t recall exactly how many times I’ve read the first trilogy, but it has been at least five and familiarity with the story has not reduced the joy of taking in Donaldson’s fantastic story told with astounding prose.

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*For anyone reading my reviews, this is a cut-paste of my review of Lord Foul's Bane. I will write a separate review for the Second Chronicles, but for each of the first series, I will use the same review. Thanks*Tolkien was not my introduction to fantasy fiction (neither was Donaldson); my first experience with SFF was RA Salvatore's The Crystal Shard. However, I immediately jumped into Tolkien, and afterward, Donaldson.The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are as different from Tolkien's world as almost any SFF (think Jordan, Martin, etc). The story is as epic (moreso, even), and much more emotionally involving. Not so much because Thomas Covenant is a "real" person from the "real" world, but because his reactions to his experiences, the way he responds with doubt and fury, and the way he manages to grow despite his dichotomous belief/unbelief, all ring true to me. Maybe not to everyone, but to me, yes.Some of my best memories of middle/high school are of reading these books, ravenously. The sub- and side-stories, of the Bloodguard, the Giants, Hile Troy, even the background on the ur-Viles and other fantastical creatures, intrigued me as much as the main plot. I have always thought this story had more depth than Tolkien (not to knock Tolkien - he's the Godfather of SFF, and I love his books), seemed Maybe this was because of the vitriol of Covenant; Hobbits don't stomp around muttering "Hellfire and bloody damnation," no matter how fiery and dangerous Mordor became.To sum up, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant were not my first foray into fantasy fiction, nor were they my last; but they are one of the most influential series of novels to my evolution as a reader, and something I can always reread with as much wonder as the first time.

Another series I did in one long weekend, this was probably one of the most influential series I read during high school. For some reason I absolutely hated the main character Thomas Conevenant (probably because he was an ass) and my one driving passion was to keep reading until he was killed off. Until of course the last book in the second series where I got over it and decided he should live and then he was killed off. As an interesting aside, this series made it remarkably less likely that I

A rousing conclusion to the first trilogy. I like how Covenant's character develops, and we start to see the hidden humanity in him, starting with the rescue of the young girl to start the story. With the ending of the story, it is clear why Covenant has handled the whole reality/delusion the way he has, and he has paid for it. It all comes back to the original message from the old man. This time around I enjoyed the returning characters, as well as the development of the enemies, particularly t
—Quinton Baran

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