Thursday, October 10, 2013

all things end

Know why I'm excited? Because I've pre-ordered, for the Kindle app on my phone, Stephen R. Donaldson's The Last Dark: the fourth book in, and the swan song of, the Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant tetralogy. Donaldson, as usual, puts his characters through hell before they can find any measure of release, relief, or redemption. The third book in the series, Against All Things Ending, finished with a scene implying that all things were indeed ending: the fell Worm of the World's End had been roused from eons of slumber, and the stars were winking out in the sky, one by one, in a manner reminiscent of the deconstruction of the universe in CS Lewis's The Last Battle, or in AC Clarke's short story, "The Nine Billion Names of God." With time running out, and the very foundations of this alternate universe threatened, what can a resurrected Covenant and a beleaguered Linden Avery do? Covenant seems to be without his own white-gold ring; he's got his wife's ring. Meanwhile, Covenant's mad son Roger is wreaking havoc across the Land; equally mad Kastenessen, the Elohim freed from punishment, has his own bitter designs against the Earth, and the stalwart Haruchai have been perverted from their old integrity to name themselves "Masters" of the Land, having transformed from guardians and stewards to rulers.

The whole situation is quite bleak, which makes me curious as to how Donaldson will write himself out of the corner he's in. One prediction is that he'll continue in a CS Lewis vein with the dismantling of the universe of the Land. But what will become of Lord Foul, the demonic, godlike presence who wishes only to be free of the constraints of this universe so he can enact vengeance upon the Creator? And what role does Linden's adopted son, Jeremiah, have to play in all this, now that we know his formidable talents?

The Last Dark (not a very optimistic title) has many loose ends to tie up, and it all has to happen within about six hundred or so pages. I look forward to devouring the book once it's been auto-downloaded to my phone. This may become a temporary addiction.


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