Thursday, October 24, 2013

to review or not to review?

Stephen R. Donaldson's final novel in his Thomas Covenant tetralogy, The Last Dark, came out for Kindle download this past October 15. I snapped it up right away, and have just finished reading it. Some of the major questions I had before reading the novel included:

1. Would Covenant and/or Linden meet the Creator again? As in the Christian Bible, the Creator's role has diminished over time in the Covenant stories. Many characters in the Chronicles talk about the Creator, but the Creator himself has become little more than a background figure. At the beginning of The Last Chronicles, there's no Creator at all.

2. Would the world actually end, and was it really going to be the last dark? I had guessed that Donaldson was going to take the story in a CS Lewis-ish direction. You may recall that, in the final novel of the Narnia series, The Last Battle, Aslan unmakes the world of Narnia (I can't remember why). Donaldson seemed, at least, to be traveling the same road.

3. What would the eventual fates of Covenant, Linden, and Linden's adopted son Jeremiah be? Would they live out their natural lives in the Land (since they had all been killed in "our" world)? The whole thing reminded me of the poor Pevensie kids, who all end up dead in a train crash in The Last Battle, but who find themselves at the beginning of an awesome postmortem adventure, standing before the paradoxical gates of heaven.

4. Would we finally find out whether this world existed objectively, or whether it was all a figment of someone's imagination? Donaldson himself dealt with this question from his fans, may of whom argued (reasonably) that the introduction of different point-of-view characters, as well as the addition of other characters from "our" world, would seem to indicate that the alternative universe of the Land did indeed have an objective existence (like Narnia in the Lewis books). Donaldson, who was obviously irritated by this argument, insisted that he had done nothing, narratively speaking, to indicate the ontological status of the world of the Land.

So the question is: should I review the novel? If I do write a review, the piece is guaranteed to be rife with spoilers, because many of the issues I'd like to discuss are linked to major plot points. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that most of my minuscule readership is both unacquainted with Donaldson's writing and unlikely ever to pick up a Donaldson book, so revealing spoilers might not be a big problem.

I may just table this question for now. The final three chapters of the novel bear rereading. I'm still not sure how I feel about how Donaldson ended his opus; it has elements that seem almost as if they'd been borrowed from "The Matrix Revolutions" (itself a movie that felt as if it had borrowed tropes from Stephen R. Donaldson!). Perhaps a rereading will shed some new light on the story.


1 comment:

Bratfink said...

Write your review. I'll read it, because I read all your stuff, but I doubt I'll ever read the books.

People who do/will read them can skip your review!