Today we are more than proud to be publishing the culmination of one of the landmark series of modern fantasy. The First, Second and Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson have been a dominant feature on the fantasy landscape since the publication of the first book, Lord Foul’s Bane, in 1977. The nine novels which followed have never been out of print since publication and the series has sold millions around the world. But it is not just quantity that marks the Chronicles out. Stephen Donaldson has completed a literary endeavour of simply astounding ambition and extraordinary psychological depth. And he has fashioned it from prose of amazing erudition and richness. And all of this is set in a world of breathtaking grandeur and complexity, one that rivals Tolkien’s Middle Earth in every respect. Is there another fantasy like the Chronicles?
But it might be that the thing that truly sets apart Donaldson’s epic from the many amazing series that have made modern fantasy what it is, is its focus. For all its size, for all the breadth and glory of the world, for all its massive cast of vivid creatures and characters the Chronicles are very much about their name sake. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are not just about Thomas and his adventures and misadventures, his triumphs and his trials, his weaknesses and his strengths, Thomas Covenant IS the Chronicles.
And what a brave and profound decision this was on the part of Donaldson. Thomas Covenant is a leper. He is full of anger and bitterness. And, crucially, doubt. He is no obvious hero. He often resents his role, he often fights against, he often unbelieves. At his core is his leprosy and the rigorous regime that he must employ to keep it in check – he can afford no flights of fancy, he cannot afford to believe that he will be ok. And when Thomas arrives in the land he is ok. More than ok. His leprosy is gone, he feels a terrifying vitality. And he does a terrible, terrible thing. Thomas, his doubts, his flawed relationship with his family, his terror that the land that needs him so much is the very last thing he can trust makes the Chronicles and makes them unique in fantasy. Fantasy is about belief in the extraordinary. The chronicles are about the fear of that.
It sometimes, for all their wonder and beauty makes the series a gruelling read, but for the right reasons. Thomas is not easy company, not by far but he is a compelling character and you cannot help but care about him and the people close to him – he people who love him and the people who hate him.
We recently published the first and second chronicles in ebook (the first time they had been available in that format in the UK) and now with the publication in all formats of The Last Dark, the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever are complete. And The Last Dark is a fitting conclusion. The Land faces its final doom and Thomas Covenant must face exactly what it is that has bound him and Lord Foul together in conflict across all the years of the Chronicles.
There is nothing else out there like the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and we are thrilled to be able to present the entire story to a new generation of readers.
The Last Dark is out now where all good books are sold.