Thursday, February 26, 2004

Thomas Covenant watch

As readers of the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever know, Thomas Covenant is dead, leaving two material corpses-- one at Haven Farm, another in the heart of Mount Thunder, in the Land. Covenant's spirit lives on in the Land as one of the Dead; his revenant speaks to Linden Avery both while she's in Kiril Threndor and during her transit back to "our" world.

So... how do you bring Covenant back for a Third Chronicles?

Let him be the "primary viewpoint character," that's how. Not only that, but play with temporality. Thus saith a Covenant-hound who was part of the audience at a reading by Donaldson:

[Donaldson] said that the 1st Chronicles were the "muscle" books where Lord Foul is akin to Hitler forging armies and A-bombs to ruin his enemies and break his prison. In the 2nd Chronicles Foul's method is an attack on the natural order of things. But in the 3rd Chronicles Foul's final means of escape will consist of a massive attack on and corruption of time itself! [breathless emphasis removed]

The first book in what is likely to be a humongous four-book series, The Runes of Earth, is due out either later this year or sometime next year.

If you clicked the first link, you saw Donaldson's emailed responses to the guy who runs the fan site. Donaldson separates himself from Tolkien right away:

3) are there any races or characters that I would like to write about outside the "Chronicles"? In a word, no. My mind doesn't work that way. I think in stories, not in races or characters (or in themes or belief-systems).

Compare this to Tolkien's delicate, meticulous construction of every aspect of Middle Earth's land, peoples, cultures, history, and cosmology. Donaldson's remark explains much.

And Donaldson at his most tersely philosophical:

6) the importance of contradiction? the nature of evil? I can't answer such questions--by which I mean that I can't think of anything to say that would be more clear than what is already in my books. But on the subject of contradiction, consider this: every human being is by his/her very nature a contradiction between material flesh and unquantifiable consciousness. That's hard to think about. Understanding ourselves isn't easy. Personally, I don't know any other way to process the dilemma of being a walking, talking contradiction except through story-telling. Certainly the fundamental postulate of traditional Western religions--dualism--doesn't do it for me. As for evil, all I can say is: consider what Lord Foul, Kasreyn of the Gyre, Master Eremis, Nick Succorso, and Holt Fasner have in common.

(Pssst: lemme spoil it for you: attachment.)


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