So a few weeks back I finally finished of the The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: The Last Dark by Stephen R. Donaldson, the final book of the series. A while ago I posted on why am I slogging through the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and whether I would finish the series. It is a difficult read, and the main character, Covenant, is mostly a dick throughout the series. So, was it worth it?
Overall, I’d have to say yes. Donaldson does some incredible world building in his tales. I love the setting of the Land, his fictional world. You’ve got people that live mostly in harmony with the land they live in, they don’t have crime, or disease, or many of the social ills that we have in our world. On the other hand, they have Lord Foul who is constantly tormenting the people of the Land, so I guess he makes up for all the lacking social ills. (Oddly enough, for being the main villain of the piece, he doesn’t really show up all that much.) They have giants, who are good-natured, loyal to a fault, love tales and traveling. They have the Ranyhm, great horses that roam the pains, and the Ramen who tend to them. These are people I’d like to hang out with.
The problem comes from Covenant being such a horrible person through most of the series. It isn’t until this last set of books that he finally starts showing that even though he’s still contemptible, he’s finally doing something to help out. It makes it hard to like him and want him to succeed. It makes it difficult to care for the Land or its inhabitants and their plight because Covenant himself doesn’t care. I guess my overall objection is that he should give a damn about what is happening to the Land, but he doesn’t. Not until later in the series. I read stories to see the struggle, the character growing and learning, and overcoming the odds and barriers set against them to achieve a goal.
Also, the earlier works read a lot like Donaldson is trying to impress his college English professor. He has finally grown out of that and the Last Chronicles writing flows better, making it less of a stumbling block to try and get through. He does tend to ramble with his storytelling too.
I’m glad I read it, even with the main character being so difficult to like. Will I keep it in my library? Probably not. I’m aware of the limited time I have on this planet and going through that again would be too much time I could spend on other things, other books. You, good reader, will have to decide for yourself if the journey is one that you want to undertake.