wasn’t into Fantasy too much in the 70’s when this originally came out. Oh, I read the Ring stuff and loved Watership Down (a fantasy epic in its own right). But I’d never read Donaldson. Since then, I did read his The Real Story series and loved it. It had a gritty realism and unconventional storytelling that I found appealing.
A bookhead friend from work suggested this one day while we were having our Lonely Literary Club chat so I took a look into it.
In a nutshell, Lord Foul’s Bane is a stand-alone novel, yet also part of the Thomas Covenant series. I’d remembered hearing about this way back in my college days from my scifi roomie: the book’s main character is a leper. Yeah, seriously. Worse, he’s an unlikable leper. He does things that really chafe to the core. He’s like Flashman without the charm. And he’s pulled from his crummy Earth existence to settle things in a fantasy world simply called “The Land”.
At first, I was having some issues with the novel. Coming in the helicon fantasy days following the Ring trilogy, this one seemed like a pale knockoff. His main character also has a ring, one that sets him apart. And the heroes need to journey to the villain’s lair, located in (of course) an active volcano. I was a single hairy hobbit foot from ditching it but for two things.
One: Donaldson’s characters are always compelling. They are imperfect bastards, which make them more interesting that tenaciously loyal hobbits. A leper with missing fingers and absent ethics is fun to follow.
Two: Donaldson does great scenery porn. Each of his lands are moody and wondrous or beautiful. His volcano was a thing of Technicolor spender, towering above the heroes, a thing of malignant ash and crackling lightning. And the trip into the caves, spooky!
So yeah, I’m going to have to follow this one and get the next book from the library (eventually – having been to the Strand Bookstore in New York, I’m awash with books right now). But like Thomas Covenant, I suspect I’ll have to return to The Land sometime soon!
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