The Last Dark, the final volume in The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, will be published on the 14th October. To celebrate this epic landmark event, over the coming weeks Marcus will be sharing with you a look back at the series. Visit us every Tuesday, share your thoughts with us on the series in comments and keep your eyes peeled for teasers, extracts and more.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve wittered on about how much I loved the fist two trilogies of the Thomas Covenant series. I read the first trilogy on its own, and then – years later – read the second. I decided to read the entire series when Gollancz – that amazingly wonderful imprint where I now work – sent out the proofs of the first volume of The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I was a bookseller at the time, and my Orion rep – the brilliant Meirion Richards – handed me a proof (or ARC for our American readers) of The Runes of the Earth. I was astounded – I had no idea that Donaldson had returned to the Land, and I was so excited that I decided to start again from the beginning. I took the first trilogy on holiday, and then read the second trilogy – for the first time – on my return. And then I was ready for the new book…
As I said in the previous posts I’m not going to put any spoilers here, as we’d love those of you who haven’t read these books to try them (especially our shiny new ebooks [link here]), and that makes it increasingly hard to talk about the series without spoiling something in book one. But – and I’m sorry that I’m repeating myself – after the end of White Gold Wielder I was convinced that the series was done. Even though I knew that Donaldson had promised another four books, even though I had the first of those sitting on my shelf, I just wasn’t sure that there was anywhere left to go. But I’d read the first six books purely to get to the point where I could read the new book, so of course I did.
And I was instantly sucked back into Donaldson’s – and Covenant’s – world. I hope it won’t upset anyone to say that the first book of the last chronicles barely features – in flashback or in current events – our ‘hero’. but that’s OK, because – as always – Donaldson is playing with the reader’s expectations. He knows what the reader wants, and he’d rather go the other way. So the series focuses – again – on Linden Avery, but it doesn’t matter – we’re back in the Land, and Lord Foul is rearing his ugly head, and things look like they’re going to fall apart. Covenant may be an ethereal presence, but he’s there in every page, and Linden’s experiences make the reader understand just how desperate things are.
Having re-read the early books, and then having read both The Runes of the Earth and Fatal Revenant the moment they were published, it might surprise you to learn that I still haven’t read Against all Things Ending. And I haven’t used my position at Gollancz to read The Last Dark yet. It’s because back in 2004, when I read Runes, I reached the end of the proof and read the note which set out the publishing programme for the rest of the series. It was very clear. It said that the last volume would come in 2012. At the time I thought oh well, I’ll get there. After reading Fatal Revenant, I realised that I wasn’t prepared to wait four years to read the conclusion to the cliffhanger ending. So I’ve waited, patiently, and now the final volume of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant is almost here. My plan was to jump back in and read the last two books. I’m currently considering starting from the beginning again.
This series is one of the most important, most influential and most amazing works of fantasy there has ever been. The final volume is a capstone to an incredible piece of work. If you haven’t read them before, then you’re missing out. If, like me, you’ve been waiting for the final volume to be released well, here we are. Either way, please do give them a go, and join Gollancz in celebrating The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.