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

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

4.0 88
by Stephen R. Donaldson

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The first book in one of the most remarkable epic fantasies ever written, the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever.
He called himself Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever because he dared not believe in the strange alternate world in which he suddenly found himself. Yet he was tempted to believe, to fight for the Land, to be the reincarnation of its greatest hero..


The first book in one of the most remarkable epic fantasies ever written, the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever.
He called himself Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever because he dared not believe in the strange alternate world in which he suddenly found himself. Yet he was tempted to believe, to fight for the Land, to be the reincarnation of its greatest hero....

Editorial Reviews

Gale Research
"Covenant is Donaldson's genius," John Calvin Batchelor of the Village Voice believes, "and I would be delinquent if I didn't say that although Donaldson writes dense and strangled prose, Chronicles has, at its heart, an unqualifiedly sublime idea--that the last shall be first."

Because of the strangeness of the Land and his place in it, Covenant finds it hard to believe it even exists. He calls himself "The Unbeliever." "He doesn't quite believe," McClellan states, "that these adventures are happening to him in a land of giants, dwarfs, strange animals, sorcerers and evil spirits. . . . The fact that Covenant doesn't quite believe in himself and that he is not a hero born and bred may be helping him to find a readership among Americans, who are also, perhaps, a bit dubious about their taste in fantasy."

Product Details

Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever Series , #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.31(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen R. Donaldson (b. 1947) is an American author of fantasy novels, science fiction, and mystery books who is best known for the ten-part Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series, which centers on a leper who is destined to become Earth’s savior. His earlier Gap series is a five-book sci-fi epic. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Lord Foul's Bane 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
TimeChaser More than 1 year ago
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.
Bibliophile1954 More than 1 year ago
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!
topazz1963 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
TheCrowdedLeaf More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
R_Hinshaw More than 1 year ago
This is my all-time favorite book and probably the best thing I have ever read. Yet I seldom recommend it to anyone. I started it my senior year of high school and then put it down for about three months because of an act the main character commits fairly early in the book. Most readers will find it hard to forgive him for this act even if there are mitigating circumstances. Sort of. If you continue, you find that Thomas Covenant does not easily forgive himself, nor does the book relieve him of facing consequences. A lot of fans of the series call Covenant an anti-hero, but he isn’t. He is, deliberately by design of the author, a hero chosen because he seems unfit for the role. So much so that he cannot believe in himself. That he prefers to deny the possibility of the situation he finds himself in. All these years later, the thing that strikes me is how ballsy it all is. To pose the ethical dilemma of the series as a question in the opening chapters. To present a protagonist that is so hard to like in the beginning. To have a villain as literal an externalization of our inner darkness as Lord Foul. I don’t think any book has affected my life and thinking as much as this one. I don’t know what that says about me. I was not much of a reader before I picked this up, but have not been without a book by my side since then. I took the girl I ended up marrying more seriously after I found out she had read these books. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is the best thing I have ever read. But I don’t necessarily recommend it for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Donaldson has succeeded where so many other aspirants have failed. The world and characters he created are every bit the equal a reader finds in Tolkien's great mythos. The protagonist Thomas Covenant is flawed and very human who makes many mistakes. There are other fully drawn characters--good, evil and in between--who will engage the reader as well. Then there is the world they inhabit which Donaldson imbues with a life and soul that are nothing short of wonderful. But it is the story Donaldson tells that will keep the reader turning the pages and which will stay with him long after the last one is read for here is writing that has both enriched and elevated the fantasy genre.
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Puts her arms around him
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Read this initially in the late 70s. Yes, Donaldson can go on for pages describing a desert valley, but by the end of that you really see the picture he has painted in your mind. I have always preferred epic fantasy where the characters and world have a history. Those are the worlds that stick with you long after the last page is read. In that regard this trilogy excelled. If you are looking for traditional fantasy with your standard swords and sorcery this probably isnt for you. If you like your protagonists flawed and more realistic, you are unlikely to find a more unique character than Thomas Covenant.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Indy-AnaJones More than 1 year ago
I first read these books back in the early 80's and I loved them so much I have read them again. I could actually envision the land and the characters. The description is like you are looking at a picture. EXCELLENT! Thinking about reading them again.
heatherabovetheweather More than 1 year ago
I was recommended to read this book and the rest of the series, back in 2001 and have. I found the series to be a little hard to get into but would recommend anyone to read on as the story does take on a more interesting role as it plays out. I find putting yourself in the main characters place makes for a a good journey through a rich fantasy world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago