Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I just finished reading the book "Fatal Revenant" by Stephen R. Donaldson yesterday. It's really, really good.

Reading Donaldson's books always feels like something of a time warp for me, actually. I read the first book in the series of adventures involving Thomas Covenant when I was maybe in the sixth or seventh grade. I remember sitting in a tent at Boy Scout camp, pulling out my flashlight at night to read another chapter.

Which, you'd think, would mean that these were adventurous but fairly simple books, filled with reasonably straight-forward characters and conflicts. Not so. Actually, I think one of the reasons the books drew my attention was that they confused me. Thomas Covenant was my first real exposure to an anti-hero. He is, at least in the beginning, a deeply flawed man, pulled into another universe and hailed as it's savior. The good people of this fictitious "Land" refuse to judge him, even though he acts abominably at times, refuses to acknowledge that the Land is even real, and repeatedly refuses to be of any real help to them despite their peril. In an effort to maintain his sanity, he even refers to himself as "the unbeliever."

And yet...this flawed man comes to love the Land and its people. And in the end he saves the world, facing and overcoming perhaps the most vivid literary description of evil incarnate I have ever come across.

The stories are vividly imagined, complex, and increasingly sophisticated. The characters struggle with self-doubt, with the threat that their choices are unwittingly serving evil, with despair and hope and redemption. I enjoy them much more than, say, Tolkien's works (though I really enjoy Tolkien) -- because in some fundamental sense the characters seem more real.

They're a good real. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Magdalene6127 said...

Don't you just love good fiction? I love a book I can get lost in. I'm trying to read "Bastard Out of Carolina" right now, but keep settling down with it last thing at night, and falling asleep after just a page or two.

The book sounds great.