The Runes of the Earth : Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

  • by Stephen R. Donaldson
  • Narrated by Scott Brick
  • Series: Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
  • 27 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Since their publication more than two decades ago, the initial six books in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series have sold more than six million copies and have been published in 10 countries around the world. Now, starting with The Runes of the Earth, Stephen R. Donaldson returns with a quartet of new Covenant novels that are certain to satisfy his millions of fans, and attract countless new followers.In the original series, a man (living in our world and in our time) is mysteriously struck down with a disease long since believed to have been eradicated. He becomes a pariah in his small town and is abandoned by his wife who departs with their infant son. Alone and despairing, Thomas Covenant falls and, while unconscious, is transported to a fantastic world in which a battle for the soul of the land is being waged. Christened "The Unbeliever", for he is convinced the world is only an illusion, a dream, he finds himself slowly forced to accept the role that seems to be his destiny: savior of the Land.At the end of the sixth book, Covenant is killed, both in the real world and in the Land, as his companion, Linden Avery, looks on in horror. His death is both the ultimate sacrifice...and his redemption.At the opening of The Runes of Earth, 10 years have passed. Linden Avery comes home one day to find her child building images of the Land with blocks, and senses a terrible foreboding. She had thought that she would never again be summoned to the Land, nor ever again see her beloved Thomas Covenant. But in the Land, evil is unmaking the very laws of nature.

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What the Critics Say

"Richly imagined." (Publishers Weekly)
"Filled with splendid inventions, this book promises extremely well for the future of the end of the Covenant chronicles." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Better in Audio Format

I've been a fan of the Thomas Covenant series since the books first emerged some thirty years ago, so I'm sure anyone kind enough to actually care what I have to say here would need to take that into account as they read this.

My personal view is that anyone contemplating reading (or listening) to this book/audiobook should read the first two trilogies before embarking on this series. I say that even though Donaldson provides an outstanding summary of the first two trilogies at the beginning of "Runes," probably sufficient to get a new reader/listener up to speed. Still - you will miss a lot if you take that approach, even though Donaldson continues to provide background information as "Runes" unfolds.

I read "Runes" when it first came out a couple of years ago. Like most Donaldson books, I found myself rushing through the read to "see what happens next." I decided, before reading the second book in this series, "Fatal Revenant," which has just been published, to listen to (instead of re-reading) "Runes" because I was afraid I had missed a lot during that first, rushed reading. I definitely found that I absorbed more detail and therefore enjoyed the story much more than the first go round, and I'd therefore highly recommend the book-on-tape approach to anyone.

I'm not sure my comments will be helpful to a new reader of Donaldson's writing, but that being said, "Runes" is as good as anything from the second Covenant trilogy (which I personally consider a quantum improvement over the flawed but still entertaining first trilogy), and equal to the "Gap" series in terms of action and intrigue.

Definitely worthwhile for a long-time fan - probably worth a shot for a new and curious reader as well
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- Malcolm

Angsty, pedantic... excruciating

I read the first series of "Thomas Covenant" books when they first came out, about 20 years ago. I remember finding them slightly irritating, but finishing the whole series anyway.

When "Runes" came out, I thought a long time before buying the audio book. Though my experience with the first 6 books had not been so great, I was also in high school at the time. I've changed quite a bit since then - and I thought it possible a more mature reader might appreciate the series more.

Well, I guess I haven't changed enough - "Runes" is truly an awful piece of work. The characters are angsty, helpless, frustrating ... and predictable. You *know*, without any need for forshadowing or introspection, what they will do long before they act (or fail to act, as is more often the case). Not that "Runes" lacks in the introspection and foreshadowing department. Inner dialog goes on for passage after passage, but still leaves many of the characters feeling flat, rather than giving you any insight or making you care about them.

The writing is also poor, surprising from someone who has been in the business as long as Donaldson. The florid prose comes off like really bad poetry at times. Donaldson uses a lot of descriptive language, but it is almost always cliched and trite. It frequently sounds like a parody of really bad romance novel language.

Think really, really carefully before chosing this title - if you are an absolute die-hard Thomas Covenant fan, and can stand the horrid writing, then you may find pleasure in the continuing story of The Land and Foul's plot to destroy it. But just like Donaldson's characters, you too must pay the price of despair and desolation as you suffer through the tortured landscape of cliche and bad writting, before reaching a pay-off that most of us won't find worth the trip.

If there was ever a book I wish I had bought in hardcover, it's "Runes" ... I could have returned it after 20 minutes of reading and asked for my money back.
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- Timothy

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-29-2005
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio