THE RUNES OF THE EARTH: The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
Six fantasy novels featuring Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever appeared between 1977 and 1983, but Donaldson shows that his epic series still has the power to surprise in this richly imagined start of a final quartet. Covenant died at the end of White Gold Wielder (1983), and at this novel's outset so does his lover, Linden Avery, in a violent confrontation with Joan and Roger Covenant as they kidnap her son, Jeremiah. Linden awakens once again in the Land, where she finds Lord Foul scheming to escape the Arch of Time with the help of Joan and Roger while using Jeremiah as a pawn. The 10 years since Linden's last visit have been centuries by Land time, and in that interval Anele, with whom she teams, has lost the Staff of Law, plunging the world into chaos. Linden's only hope for saving the Land and reclaiming Jeremiah is to gather a crew from the Land's numerous races and surf a caesure, or time rift, to retrieve the Staff. Nevertheless, she can't shake her fear that all this has been plotted by Foul as part of his malignant design. Donaldson's saga has transformed tremendously since initial volumes offered startlingly original antiheroic fantasy resonating with echoes of both Tolkien and Philip K. Dick, but the engaging humanity of his characters still compels attention. A new generation of readers may find this episode's midstream plunge into the saga bracing, while fans of Covenant's past chronicles will welcome a return to the Land. Agent, Howard Morhaim. (Oct. 13)
Forecast: Despite the long gap since the last in the series, this one should hit many bestseller lists. The Michael Whelan dust jacket is going to have a lot of fantasy fans drooling.