The Last Dark, by Stephen R. Donaldson

Well, somehow I managed to acquire a copy of the final book in the Covenant saga — The Last Dark — before it is officially released (October 15). I got my copy on October 8, and I was initially planning to finish the novel and write a review this weekend; inTheLastDark_Coverstead, I’m enjoying the book like a fine single-malt scotch, and it will take me a couple of weeks to reach the end. I’m currently on page 60.

There is an excellent ‘What Has Gone Before’ introduction (19 pages) that quickly, and concisely, sums up the entire series, beginning with Lord Foul’s Bane (1977).

So far, the story is excellent, although I’m still occasionally annoyed with Donaldson’s worst propensities; too much despair, over writing, and telling (not always skillfully) instead of showing. But this feels like the book that will make the final series meaningful.  I’m about to give away a couple of things; so, even though they happen close to the book’s beginning, you may not want to read further…

Jeremiah, Linden’s son, awakes from his miasma and tells Linden that his mind has been roaming the Land for years, travelling through time, and being observed by the many powers that dwell there.

Brinn makes an appearance (the ak-Haru: see the Second Chronicles, The One Tree).

So far, sixty pages in, it feels like the best novel, by far, in The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. If you are a fan, buy it.

Update, October 30, 2013:

Well, I’m half-way through now, at the beginning of part two (the abyss and the peak). My life has been filled to the brim with so much activity that I’ve had little precious time to read. Anyway, I’m still enjoying the book; it contains, by far, the most jam-packed action in the ‘Last Chronicles’ series. I’m almost glad that I’m reading it slowly (normally I would have burned through the novel); there are so many ‘minor’-climaxes that it’s almost too much packed into one book! (couldn’t SRD have spread out the excitement?). I thought so before I began reading, but I’m sure now that it is Manethrall Mahrtiir who is depicted on the cover; something occurs to him (rather, he makes a certain choice) that I’d predicted, but it is still very cool and I think it will be a big part of the book’s conclusion. The characters are beginning to solidify into the type of heroes that I enjoyed in the first two trilogies, especially the Haruchai (the giants, though wonderful as always, have still not exceeded themselves and lived up to previous characters, e.g.: Saltheart Foamfollower). Even Linden Avery is rounding into form and becoming a person of sturdy consequence. Donaldson’s prose continues to grate at my sensibilities every now-and-then, but I am immersed in the world he has built, and nothing, short of The Last Dark, can stand in the way of my completion of the book.

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