Customer Reviews for

Lord Foul's Bane (First Chronicles Series #1)

Average Rating 4
( 87 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Stands the Test of Time

Like other reviewers here, I read all these books when they first came out and have just begun rereading them. This is not light reading and does require some thought on the part of the reader but the payback is a story of depth and beauty and Thomas Covenant, himself,...
Like other reviewers here, I read all these books when they first came out and have just begun rereading them. This is not light reading and does require some thought on the part of the reader but the payback is a story of depth and beauty and Thomas Covenant, himself, is a complex, troubled individual. A word on this...there has been some criticism on his behavior early on in this book and, yes, it is impossible to justify. However, remember this is a man who has attuned himself to feel nothing emotionally and, by nature of his disease (leprosy) already feels very little physically due to the destruction of his nerve endings. He is thrust into a world where ALL feeling and perception is vivid and painted in the brightest of colors and hues. His reactions are understandable if not justifiable. I don't want to give too much away but if you are tired of the standard fantasy about handsome/beautiful kings/queens, bad wizard vs good wizard, dragons, dragons and more dragons. Well, try this. It's depth is amazing.

posted by Anonymous on June 24, 2002

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

What A Mistake!!

When i first read all the glowing reviews for this series, I thought I had found a winner. I purchased all of the first three books of the initial trilogy. I assumed with so many great recommendations I couldn't go wrong. Boy was I wrong! The hero?, Thomas Covenant, whi...
When i first read all the glowing reviews for this series, I thought I had found a winner. I purchased all of the first three books of the initial trilogy. I assumed with so many great recommendations I couldn't go wrong. Boy was I wrong! The hero?, Thomas Covenant, whines, cries and rages his way thru page after page after page. Covenant is one of the most despicable characters I have ever come upon. A quarter of the way into the book a young, innocent girl of 16 tries to befriend Covenant, takes him to her home to eat and meet her family, and he repays her by losing his temper and raping her. At this point I threw the book down and refused to read anymore. The image of a leper molesting a child was too much for me. After a few days I decided that something must radically change in the plot because the book has so many good reviews. There must be some redeeming change in his character to make him worthy of being the hero. So I decided to read the rest of it.
I shouldn't have bothered. Covenant doesn't alter his behavior one bit. He whines, he cries, he argues, he rages. When attacked, his first inclination is to hide and cower. He doesn't find the will to fight until he loses his temper from fear. And then he's ashamed of himself because he's killed. I found myself rooting for the bad guys, hoping one of them would lop his head off. That way the story could continue without him in it.
I threw the book in the trash along with parts 2 & 3 unread. I won't have that kind of drivel on my bookshelf. Someone might come across it and think I enjoyed it!
If you enjoy fantasy that doesn't follow the usual tired and overused plot lines, you should check out a series by Kate Elliot called "Crown Of Stars". It's everything intelligent fantasy should be.

posted by RichardB on November 22, 2009

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  • Posted November 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    What A Mistake!!

    When i first read all the glowing reviews for this series, I thought I had found a winner. I purchased all of the first three books of the initial trilogy. I assumed with so many great recommendations I couldn't go wrong. Boy was I wrong! The hero?, Thomas Covenant, whines, cries and rages his way thru page after page after page. Covenant is one of the most despicable characters I have ever come upon. A quarter of the way into the book a young, innocent girl of 16 tries to befriend Covenant, takes him to her home to eat and meet her family, and he repays her by losing his temper and raping her. At this point I threw the book down and refused to read anymore. The image of a leper molesting a child was too much for me. After a few days I decided that something must radically change in the plot because the book has so many good reviews. There must be some redeeming change in his character to make him worthy of being the hero. So I decided to read the rest of it.
    I shouldn't have bothered. Covenant doesn't alter his behavior one bit. He whines, he cries, he argues, he rages. When attacked, his first inclination is to hide and cower. He doesn't find the will to fight until he loses his temper from fear. And then he's ashamed of himself because he's killed. I found myself rooting for the bad guys, hoping one of them would lop his head off. That way the story could continue without him in it.
    I threw the book in the trash along with parts 2 & 3 unread. I won't have that kind of drivel on my bookshelf. Someone might come across it and think I enjoyed it!
    If you enjoy fantasy that doesn't follow the usual tired and overused plot lines, you should check out a series by Kate Elliot called "Crown Of Stars". It's everything intelligent fantasy should be.

    9 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Unlikeable Unbeliever: Hoping Sequel Is Better

    How does one start a review on a book one despised for the first 376 pages, and wavered between love and hate for the last 98? Because that's my general feeling about Lord Foul's Bane. It's a nice long book with a fantasy story, a made up land, a strange language, people with pointy ears, people who live in trees, horses that seem smarter than your average horse, giants, mountains, a ring that glows, old men with long beards and special staffs (staves?), and a creepy underground dwelling "cavewight" who yearns for power. Sound familiar? Yes, it's a lot like The Lord of the Rings. But it's a little different: it's slightly easier to read. But that doesn't make it great. The writing was slow and sluggish at times, far too much expository description for locations which could have been understood better with less detail, "less is more" sometimes rings so, so true.

    Thomas Covenant's journey is both physical, and mental, as well as emotional for him. The entire span of the book he's convinced he's dreaming. You would think he'd catch on that The Land had helped heal his leprosy, but he's in serious denial. It's one long mental crisis that peaks three-quarters of the way through when Covenant realizes he needs to pick a side, make a decision, but he doesn't do it right away. He has kept moving only because moving forward through the "dream" is the only way he can survive. but when he's met over and over again with those defining moments where an action from him will make him a hero, he cowers and shakes, and runs away. Perhaps that makes him the most realistic fantasy character I've ever read. He doesn't become the hero overnight, in fact, he may not be the hero at all. He doesn't make his own choices because he wants to, he's pushed into a corner where the only thing left is to appear as though he's made a decision. I am not sure if he ever really did decide to be the good or bad guy, or if he did the only thing he could do because that's all there was. He's flawed, and that's real.
    Overall, I'm going with a neutral 2 1/2 stars out of 5 on this one. I really did not like most of the book, but the end (slightly) redeemed itself.

    6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2008

    Disgusting

    The 'hero' is a rapist! The story is slow and uninteresting. Horrible, horrible book.

    4 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2002

    Stands the Test of Time

    Like other reviewers here, I read all these books when they first came out and have just begun rereading them. This is not light reading and does require some thought on the part of the reader but the payback is a story of depth and beauty and Thomas Covenant, himself, is a complex, troubled individual. A word on this...there has been some criticism on his behavior early on in this book and, yes, it is impossible to justify. However, remember this is a man who has attuned himself to feel nothing emotionally and, by nature of his disease (leprosy) already feels very little physically due to the destruction of his nerve endings. He is thrust into a world where ALL feeling and perception is vivid and painted in the brightest of colors and hues. His reactions are understandable if not justifiable. I don't want to give too much away but if you are tired of the standard fantasy about handsome/beautiful kings/queens, bad wizard vs good wizard, dragons, dragons and more dragons. Well, try this. It's depth is amazing.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2002

    A powerful, moving, timeless epic

    This is without doubt the best fantasy story I have ever read. It is complex,has amazing depth and takes readers on a journey that they will never forget. I read the entire series in about three weeks it would have been less but I started slowing down at the end because I didn't want to finish. It was like having to part with old friends that you had been through heaven and hell with. Well done Mr Donaldson for giving the world such a beautiful and complete human story- so dark in places and yet ultimately a brilliantly graceful message. Thanks so much.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2000

    Why are we so polarized?

    Without a doubt, my all time favorite series of books (The First AND Second Chronicles). I, like a lot of other reviewers, read the books some time ago and am now rereading them. I can't wait to get through them again. I'm now finding all kinds of foreshadowing gems in Lord Foul's Bane that I couldn't have recognized the first time through. Anybody who doesn't like these stories is truly incapable of appreciating Donaldson's sense of imagination and storytelling. I've heard people describe his writing style as 'strangled,' 'dense,' etc., but as a professional writer, I believe that his writing style is necessary for story he tells. Other people have called him a 'Tolkein wanna-be,' and even a 'Dostoyevski wanna-be.' These people know not that they honor him by making these claims. All good authors are inspired by their predecessors, but Donaldson adds his own style and his intense imagination to the genre that is unequalled, I believe, by anyone I've yet read. I finished reading the chronicals about 8 years ago the first time, and I still think about the characters all the time. Like others, my heart has been riven from my chest by the horrors of the Wounded Land, but I was absolutely spellbound nonetheless! I am still in awe of Nom, the sandgorgon, an utterly fascinating Second-Chronicals hero. Too many others to itemize here. I still can't believe that anyone who likes fantasy did not absolutely love this series. If you don't believe me, read it...but beware, it isn't Tolkien.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2012

    Worse than I remember

    I first read this almost 20 years ago and I remember liking that this book was different. So, in search of a good book to read, I bought this for the Nook and read it again. I see how the story is different, has some originality, and is well written at times, but I was greatly disappointed in how it progressed. Perhaps I’m just wiser, but the Covenant character was awful. I don’t mind ignoble characters and I don’t mind characters I don’t agree with, but they have to at least make sense. Maybe I missed a subtle point the author was trying to make, but Covenant was so inconsistent that I just wanted the story to be over. He’s sanctimoniously bothered by killing evil creatures in self-defense, yet he starts off the story by raping a teenage girl. And what are his motivations for his actions? Good luck figuring that out. In one instant he acts like he knows he’s in a dream and in the next instant he blurts out some random demand like a crazy old aunt.

    All that craziness just makes it harder to swallow the typical claptrap usually found in fantasy novels. Everyone lives in quaint or impressive dwellings that are in harmony with the land and everyone is dedicated to peaceful, noble ways of living. Sounds great except who was it that gathered the food and water? What animals were killed to supply the meat they ate? Are there really no flies or mosquitos in this place? Does anyone ever get sick? And, not once in the whole story did anyone ever go to the bathroom nor was there any mention where they would go.

    There’s no way I could re-read the next two books.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2004

    Lord Copyright Infringement's Bane

    This book is one of the most vile and despicable means of making money. To think that Lord Foul's Bane could actually be published is as easy as thinking that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. The concept of Del Rey, a publishing company that only accepts great works of art, would allow such trash to enter the mainstream world of books is astoundingly wretched. Stephen R. Donaldson cannot even be congratulated on his copying technique, since it is so blatantly obvious that he can think of no ideas on his own, relying solely on the works of literary masters. Thomas Covenant starts out with a ring made of white gold and if you take out the word 'white', you have something very similar to Tolkien. He travels through a strange land meeting Elves who live in a symbiotic relationship with the trees, exactly like the Elves in Lothlorien. He then is taken by a giant (hmm...Ent) to a large city with many levels (Minas Tirith). He then goes with a clan of horse people (Rohirrim) and in the end goes inside a large volacno, where the ring starts to wear on him. Imagine that! Well, actually, Tolkien did. My advice to you; go read the original.

    2 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2000

    Depth of Emotion and Beauty

    I read the Covenant series for the first time about 10 years ago, and have reread them several times since. I have read an enormity of titles by countless authors, but never has any literary work by any author ever touched my soul so deeply. My sister had a rare genetic disorder and since she was exremely limited in physical ability, she devoted her entire being to loving her family and READING. These books are indeed pensive and incredibly sad at times, but the EMOTION that the LAND seems to fill the reader with is beautiful beyond compare. My sister and I read the series together and held each other amd cried as though written into the story, and able to touch, see, and feel the characters, which Donaldson makes so human, so vulnerable. Read this book, and you will never forget the likes of Saltheart Foamfollower, Lord Morham, Bannor, Trell(who has much pain), Atirian, and countless others whose fates become all so important to us, the reader. Thank you Mr. Donaldson, your books are one of the few great joys that my sister was allowed to cherish.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2000

    why do readers like this book so much?

    Too derivative of tolkien...the ring, the descent into the mountain, the rituals, the despiser....all found in tolkien, who, i must add, writes in a much lighter and clearer ( i.e. more readable) style.

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 21, 2012

    Rarely in the fantasy genera, do we come across a more descripti

    Rarely in the fantasy genera, do we come across a more descriptive & bitter "anti-hero" than that of Thomas Covenant. A man who has contracted leprosy not of his own fault, he is an outcast in his own town, his wife & child having fled in fear of his disease. He has so despised & hated himself, that when he finds himself is an alternate reality, where he is regard as an incarnation of the Lands past hero, he steadfastly refuses to believe in it, thereby claiming the title of The Unbeliever. But no matter how much he refuses to believe that he can help this, (to him), imaginary Land, the people of this Land believe that he alone can combat a terrible evil that is threatening the Land. However hard he may try convince himself that the Land is not real, he inadvertently helps the people without ever understanding how, & that is what makes this series so riveting! Unlike us, the people of this Land have great love for it, & will do all to protect it. We "feel" for the people of the Land, & their desire to preserve it, & Covenant can't understand this anymore than the people can understand his self loathing. It is a constant battle between unbelief & belief, that drives this story! Well worth the money!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2012

    I've wanted to start reading this series for many years, and was

    I've wanted to start reading this series for many years, and was finally pushed into it now by my girlfriend who has read and loves all the books. While its true that the main character Thomas Covenant is far more anti-hero and is not presented very sympathetically, I believe people are wrong to dismiss this book so quickly. Having spent the last couple of months disappointed by much of what I read, this came in like a breath of fresh air. Donaldson's style kept me locked in and wanting to continuously find out what would happen next. Conversely though, it did drag once in a while, and it was very emotionally taxing, so its not for readers looking for something light and easy. This is one of the more intense pieces of fantasy I've ever read.

    I would really give this four-and-a-half stars. My only complaint is the number of errors I found in the e-book version. In terms of the total number of words it was probably less than 1%, but they still stuck out and irritated me. Publishers seriously need to take greater care in editing e-books. When many of the errors come as misspelled words that end up being other normal words and not gibberish, there needs to be more than a simple spell check.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    memorable

    I read all these books when they first came out, and they have remained some of my favorite. I prefer the first two sets, rather than the more recent third chronicles, as the pace moves a lot faster, yet you still get enough information that you really get to know the characters. Thomas Covenant is no knight in shining armor type of hero. He is a dark character, who does end up making good if not always for the best reasons, especially in the beginning. He is thrust in an alternate world, and for a while believes it is a dream or hallucination, but then learns it is real, and actions have concequences. Dark and gritty at times, yet memorable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    This is a terrific accomplishment by a literary mastermind. Fo


    This is a terrific accomplishment by a literary mastermind.

    Forget the one star reviews. It's obvious that these readers can not grasp the concept of "Anti-Hero".
    Thomas Covenant is labeled the unbeliever, he travel the Land not believing what is happening to him. He thinks it is all a dream and if so he cannot be held accountable for any and all vile acts he commits.Thomas Covenant is not meant to be likable, he is a scourge, an unwilling component necessary to make the circuit complete.

    The true main character of these books is the Land. Yes, the world Donaldson has created actually has a life of it's own. Everything in these books revolves around the Land, from the ailiantha to, The Dance of the Wraiths.

    There are those who have compared this to The Lord Of The Rings? Obviously the for mentioned reviewer is a die-hard Tolkien fan. I find it funny that most die-hard fans of Tolkien like to compare other epic works to TLR and claim them to be rip-offs. Comparing the Giants of Sea Reach to the Ents of TLR is absurd.

    Perhaps the die-hard fans of TLR should do some research and see who inspired Tolkien. His ideas where not new to fantasy when he penned TLR.

    This is a truly unique work of art.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2001

    Brilliant fantasy epic

    The Covenant series are some of the best in the realm of fantasy. Donaldson creates a richly textured and nuanced world, a well-developed supporting cast, and a believable anti-hero in the character of Thomas Covenant. Comparisons to other fantasy giants, specifically Tolkien, are spurious. Donaldson has taken the same rudimentary premise of all fantasy, good vs. evil, and blurred the distinctions. The result is a darker fiction, to be sure, but also a less contrived one. Donaldson's champions are flawed, capable of tragic miscalculations and short-sightedness. In other words, they are truly human, which I found appealing. In all fantasy, Tolkien notwithstanding, we know the good guys are going to win. The trick is in finding a novel and involving way to lead us to the forgone conclusion. Donaldson weaves the personal lives and foibles of his characters into a compelling narrative. Saying that Donaldson is derivative of Tolkien because he uses 'the ring, the descent into the mountain, the rituals, the despiser....' is to misunderstand both Tolkien and Donaldson. A focus on such superficialities indicates a failure to comprehend either writer. Read them both; enjoy them both.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2000

    Classic Intelligent Fantasy

    The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is a deep, rich, yet dark fantasy that I have recommended to many friends. Donaldson's descriptions of The Land are so detailed and clear, you'll swear that you have been transported there. The Second Chronicles begins with 'The Woundedland,' a book that will tear your heart out. All six books are highly recommended!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 1999

    Brilliant writing but extremely dark often depressing imagery

    Donaldson is definitely brilliant. He creates an incredible world, has fantastic imagery and tells a great story. However, as fantasy goes it sure isn't the good guy wins and all live happily ever after. When it is absolutely darkest and you can't possibly imagine that anything else bad/evil can befall the good guys, then the the final stroke falls. As a writer Donalson is immensely talented, but as a fantasy reader more accustomed to the likes of Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey, he is just too dark and depressing for me. I read the entire Illearth War series hoping for some positive outcome and only felt like crying when I put the last book down. The ability to awaken that level of depression obviously says he got thru to me and the fact that I read succesive novels says I liked something about him. However, I would recommend a heavy dose of Prozac before embarking on a major read of Donalson.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2014

    Whew!

    You would think that a guy who writes like he's getting paid by the word would try a little harder. Hmm... let's call the land in our story the Land! And the bad guy can be LordFoul the Despiser with his sidekick Drool! Are u kidding me? Throw in about 10,000 tortured metaphors, get the action rolling about 3/4of the way through, and you've got a jaw-dropping waste of time.



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  • Posted August 5, 2014

    I think this might just be the worst book I have ever attempted

    I think this might just be the worst book I have ever attempted to read. Thomas Covenant is the most unlikeable character ever thought up. Even an anti hero should have at least a few redeeming qualities, but Covenant does nothing but whine, cry and throw tantrums at every opportunity. Near the beginning of the book he rapes the first person to help him and try to befriend him, a sixteen year old girl. I almost stopped reading after that, but unfortunately I decided to continue in the hopes that there would be some sort of turn around or redeeming quality, I mean there had to be with all the good reviews it has, but if their is something in this book which makes it worth all the praise it has gotten I never found it. I gave up for good halfway through.
    Don't waste your time or your money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2014

    I beleive several of the complimentary reviews are written by the same person

    The writing in a good, lets say "Halfdozen" of these reviews seems to say the exact same thing with more or less page breaks and line spacing being changed. And the grammar is very similar within the reviews mentioned.

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