The Power That Preserves by Stephen R. Donaldson
Published by Del Rey Books on October 12, 1987
Series: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever #3
Genres: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy, Fiction
Length: 480 pages Source: Indie Bookstore
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Twice before Thomas Covenant had been summoned to the strange otherworld where magic worked. Twice before he had been forced to join with the Lords of Revelstone in their war against Lord Foul, the ancient enemy of the Land.
Now he was back--to a Land ravaged by the armies of Lord Foul. The Lords were besieged and helpless. No place was safe, and Foul's victory seemed certain. Only Covenant could avert it. Desperately and without hope, he set out to confront the might of the Enemy. Along with him traveled a Giant, a Bloodguard, and the madwoman he had wronged. And in Foul's Creche, Lord Foul grew in power with each new defeat for the Land. . . .
After a long period of waiting for something to happen, I finally find myself liking a book in this trilogy. It took until the middle of the book, granted, but then I flew right through it. The pace picked up, the characters gained interest. It was good, but I’m sad that it was so long coming. However, saying that, I must emphasize again that Donaldson’s style is a much vaguer, slower-paced style than I prefer to start with, so those who like that type of writing style will have probably liked this book from the beginning.
Donaldson leaves a lot unexplained, right from the beginning. A great deal of the start of the book leaves the reader following Covenant around in a short of delusional stupor, and later the reader will see glimpses into certain perspectives that are truly irrelevant to the story – or, if they are relevant, Donaldson did not clearly explain how.
I made a note to myself after about the first hundred pages pending an incident: “Given any sort of logic, we’d never see Triock again, but even though many of Donaldson’s side-exploits seem to be pointless and end in people dying, people don’t seem to die. But they still seem pointless.” A little harsh, perhaps, but it remains true. It’s said that “if you don’t see the corpse, they are not dead,” and that prove true of several characters in the trilogy, so many that it was becoming predictable, and a bit disappointing. I think perhaps that the point was that Covenant’s ghosts were coming back to haunt him, but I’m not certain.
Ultimately, I didn’t love the trilogy, but nor can I say I hated it. Much of my opinion on the book, I am consciously aware, has to do with my preference in books, and not the shortcomings of the writer. He has many fans, and has them for a reason.