Saturday, February 23, 2008

Review: Fatal Revenant

Warning: Spoilers Below

The Runes of the Earth ended with Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery's adapted son, Jeremiah coming back from the dead and in corporeal form. Fatal Revenant can be divided into two parts, first, Avery's translation back in time to the time of Berek Halfhand with Covenant and Jeremiah, and secondly, her quest to reach Andelain, to achieve her purpose.

The first half of the book is interesting, filled with continuity adjustments that Donaldson puts in. A lot of the history of the Land is covered in first hand which has always been put away in mist, including the introduction to the words of power that were used frequently in the first and second chronicles. (Though one of the words is also used as the name of a place, which I think is unfortunate --- that would be sort of like naming your sailboat Mayday and then trying to hail it)

Donaldson does not fall into the George Lucas trap of trying to explain everything, thereby removing the mystery behind the power and magic of the land, but in many ways, by giving Linden Avery power and magic, he eliminates a lot of the mood of despair that pervades prior novels and replaces it with a sense of frustration with the protagonist. In the second half of the book that frustration is at least dissipated as he provides challenges for Avery's newfound power, and also reintroduces some former races to the land.

Donaldson's writing style is still unfortunately repetitive, and if I never see the words puissance and theurgy on the printed page again it would be fine with me. The ending is a genuine surprise and I did enjoy it, but that is not (yet) enough to redeem the book in my eyes. Since there are two more books to come, I will reserve judgment until they are all over. One would think that after having to wait years for George R. R. Martin's series to end would teach me a lesson about starting series that are not over...
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