Despair is an emotion like any other.It is the habit of despair which damns,not the despair itself.
Lord Foul's Bane is the first book in the first Stephen Donaldson Thomas Covenant trilogy (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever). A fantasy masterpiece, I remember when it was released in 1977 and have read it several times. I'm re-reading this first trilogy and enjoying it just as much this time through. If you like anti-heroes and fantasy but still for some reason have never read these books, this series -especially the first trilogy- is well worth looking into.
from the dust jacket:
A wondrous world of magical adventure, as richly conceived and deeply engrossing as has ever been offered in a work of epic fantasy, awaits readers of this book, the opening volume of Stephen R. Donaldson's remarkable Covenant trilogy.
Here we meet Thomas Covenant, a man burdened with a terrible stigma that has deprived him of wife, friends, almost all human contact, perhaps even his sanity. In this state of moral isolation, he is suddenly shunted to a mysterious world known simply as "the Land" -a place of magical potency, acutely beautiful wherever it has recovered from the ravages of age-old, recurring wars. For the Land has an immortal enemy -Lord Foul the Despiser- whose unceasing intent is to lay it waste. He has been defeated in the past by the Council of Lords, servants of the Land and protectors of its arcane lore; but now the power of the Council has been reduced, and Lord Foul has found his perfect, unwitting tool -Thomas Covenant, the man who thinks the Land is a dream; who cannot accept its life-restoring powers for fear of confronting the terrible dilemma of his own existence; Covenant, the Unbeliever.
With irresistible narrative sweep, full of scenic grandeur, fabulous myth, and characters as memorable and fascinating as any in fantasy fiction, Stephen R. Donaldson has created a landmark of imaginative literature.
The Illearth War is the second book in Stephen Donaldson's first Thomas Covenant fantasy trilogy. This is a true trilogy and so should be read in publication order. Go get that first book! You won't regret it.
from the dust jacket:
It has been forty years in the time of the Land -a mere four days in the time of Thomas Covenant's "real world- since his first visit to that magical realm torn by an age-old, elemental struggle between the forces of good and evil. Having led the Council of Lords on a perilous quest to recover the Staff of Law, a talisman of power lost for centuries, he returns to discover their earlier mission to have been merely the opening move in the apocalyptic scheme of Lord Foul the Despiser, the Land's immortal enemy. For that quest has given Foul an even greater weapon -the Illearth Stone- and as seems to be the pattern of his afflicted life, Covenant must assume personal responsibility for a fateful situation he has tried desperately to avoid. The conflict that follows is of monumental scale, for now the powers of evil are truly unleashed: Lord Foul attacks the Land. Defending it is the stalwart Council of Lords, governed now by the beautiful High Lord Elena -discovered to be Covenant's own daughter- and led in combat by Warmark Hile Troy -a blind man who may or may not be from Covenant's real world. Armies clash in titanic battle -malevolent spawns of evil met by the main and magic of the Land's protectors- while Covenant and Elena pursue their own hazardous mission into a fabled mountain region, hoping to find the ancient gnostic power that will counter the Illearth Stone.Fantasy Book Review concludes, "Recommended, this series is deserving of its fantasy classic tag." SF Book Reviews says, "Donaldson's prose is incredibly rich, a complex and sophisticated narrative that demands your undivided attention but one that really deserves it too. The author continues to defy conventions and instead we are treated to a unique voice which is richly dark and deliciously anti-heroic."
The Power That Preserves is the third book in Donaldson's first trilogy. There are others that follow this, but you'd be fine stopping with this one. It's a powerful narrative, and I can't imagine you'd regret reading it.
from the dust jacket:
Twice Thomas Covenant has been wrenched out of his bitter life of isolation and scorn to find himself the reluctant instrument of conflict between good and evil in that magical world known as the Land. Again he returns; but now, realizing his responsibility for the Land's survival, and in angry atonement for having been the cause of so much of its anguish and peril, he will no longer be manipulated. He is prepared to make his own stand against Lord Foul the Despiser, to use - if only he can discoer how - the power that is his alone, feared beyond all other by Foul and his minions.Fantasy Book Review concludes with this:
In the great cliffside citadel of Revelstone, the Council of Lords is under seige by the seemingly limitless armies raised by Foul's malignant magic - creatures of hideous form and spirit against whom High Lord Mhoram and his exhausted cohortrs must constantaly revise their own magic and force of arms. Meanwhile, across the Land, Covenant makes his tortuous way to the Despiser's stronghold -the cavernous keep known as Foul's Creche- accompanied by his great friend Saltheart Foamfollower, the Giant whose magnificent strength and resolution are reinformced by his own cause for revenge. But it is Covenant alone who must meet Foul in final combat, not only to assure survival for the Land but also to achieve salvation for himself in his life beyond it ... thus bringing to a close Stephen R. Donaldson's magnificent epic fantasy, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever.
The Thomas Covenant Chronicles are deep, sophisticated novels written in a very complex yet beautiful way. The Power That Preserves brings to an end a trilogy that was very important for the fantasy genre, being the most complex work since J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and a series that kick-started a new era and a new wave of fantasy authors. A must-read for a fantasy fan