Donaldson, Stephen -- Against All Things Ending (The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, book 3)

Me, on previous book: "His stylistic quirks are... well, I can't say they're under control, but they're adequately curbed." You know, I think they are under control. Mostly. Donaldson does this thing where he starts a simile, nails one of its feet to the ground, and pushes it over backwards. "His hands made incomplete gestures like truncated supplications." NO THEY ACTUALLY ARE TRUNCATED SUPPLICATIONS. It drives me nuts. But then he also puts "may" where I want "might" and that drives me nuts, and I know it's just me -- the point is, Donaldson picks his words precisely and with care. He's aiming at effect, and most of the time, he gets me there. Occasionally he comes out with "surquedry" or "that dire fug" and I lose it, but -- fine, I'll say it. The bastard can write. Sometime in the past twenty years, he figured it out or I started paying attention. I won't swear which.

So this is the penultimate Covenant book, and things are really hotting up in the Land. Linden Avery has yanked Covenant back into mortal life, one of those things you're Really Not Supposed To Do (my caps), thus awakening the Worm of World's End (not my caps) and everybody has about a week left to finish their Christmas shopping. Thus, several mad races into and out of places after allies, power sources, and possible solutions.

I oversummarize, of course. We get: a couple of really very tense chase sequences; a couple of really very scary battle scenes; a lot of not-tense but fraught what-the-hell-do-we-do-now arguments... and it isn't cheap. By which I mean, this is not the third-hand fantasy gudge of "will he put aside his fear" (hint, the hero always puts aside his fear and finds magic in a giant burst of gosh-I-could-do-it-all-along). This isn't about fear, it's about doubt (and self-doubt) and trust. Linden Avery is a fuckup; she knows it; accidentally setting off Armageddon was a big hint in that direction. She has to keep moving anyway. The loops of second-guessing and fleeing/grabbing responsibility are what fucked-up people do. (They feel right to me, anyhow.) She can blast out magic in a giant burst of etc, and sometimes does, but she has to figure out what to do and what the cost will be. (Answer: usually irreparable.) Covenant isn't a deus ex machina either; he's just a person who has built some place to stand and trust. Their companions are, in various ways, broken and dealing with the same issues. All the plot threads reflect this, in various ways, and this is what good books are supposed to do. So I'm on board.

Books I have acquired recently
All the books I own