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The Illearth War (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever #2)

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  20,611 Ratings  ·  273 Reviews
After scant days in his "real" world, Thomas Covenant found himself again summoned to the Land. There forty bitter years had passed, while Lord Foul, immortal enemy of the Land, moved to fulfill his prophecy of doom.

The Council of Lords found their spells useless, now that Foul the Despiser held the Illearth Stone, ancient source of evil power, High Lord Elena turned in de
Mass Market Paperback, 527 pages
Published November 1989 by Del Rey (first published 1977)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 24, 2016 Brad rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I find myself in the unenviable position of rooting for Lord Foul Bane and his many loathsome minions. Maybe it's just the intentional feature of making all the good guys so perfectly good and forgiving and nonviolent and understanding, but Thomas Covenant DOES NOT DESERVE IT.

Therefore, I really want to see Lord Foul Bane corrupt every single one of those bastards solely for the purpose of rising up and smiting that worthless son of a bitch, the Ur-Lord Thomas Covenant.

If it wasn't crazy enough
"Thomas Covenant found himself once again summoned to the Land. The Council of Lords needed him to move against Foul the Despiser who held the Illearth Stone, ancient source of evil power. But although Thomas Covenant held the legendary ring, he didn't know how to use its strength, and risked losing everything...."

I’ll admit that book 2 is an improvement over book 1, but it’s a grudging admission. Having said that, Thomas Covenant is STILL an ass, but the improvement is that this installment isn
May 25, 2014 Brian rated it really liked it
To all those who hated Lord Foul's Bane -- hark! and be redeemed. Thomas Covenant gets yanked back into the Land, where 40 years have passed for its people, but only days for him. In his absence, Foul has amassed an immense army and is preparing to march. The Lords have learned virtually nothing new to aid them in their own defense. And Covenant, who still believes he's dreaming, finds himself lusted after by the daughter of the woman he previously raped. That is, by his own daughter. Salvation ...more
Aug 20, 2013 Evgeny rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Thomas Covenant is summoned to the Land once again. The said Land is in great peril - once again, and everybody's favorite leper is the only hope the people have - once again. Everybody is bending backwards in attempts to please Thomas Covenant and he does his best to appear a complete jackass to everybody. This is being done before, nothing new here, move along.

The good news is that around half of the book it is told from another person's POV which means we do not read about Thomas Covenant bei
Roy Helge
Feb 27, 2013 Roy Helge rated it it was ok
I really had to force myself to read this book. And it is as bad as the first one. But to be fair I plugged on so that at least I can have a solid base for saying what needs to be said.

Not that I object to the three basic premises of the whole series:
1)the true anti-hero, the utterly unvilling and despicable character being the focal point of the story. Pretty good idead that.
2) The inanely stereotypical names (Lord Foul, T. Covenant, Rockbrother, Seareach) and plot devices (the quest) - That c
Mike (the Paladin)
Feb 19, 2011 Mike (the Paladin) rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Thomas is back in THE LAND, though he continues to refuse to believe it's real and continues to cry (or even wail) woe is me, life is awful. In so doing he drags his feet and causes consternation, confusion, and frustration all around.

You know if I'm in a dream, even if I'm sure I'm in a dream I usually participate and don't run around in the dream refusing to participate...oh well. Enjoy, if you can. Not horribly written, but not (in my opinion) great either, certainly not worth the cost of adm
Wow, I think this is the first novel ever that I decided to leave unfinished. I had to create a new GR shelf for it anyway. Here's the (annotated) passage that broke the camel's back, on page 105. As you might have guessed, it's more whiny dithering over the "reality" of the Land:
He could not go on in this fashion. If he did, he would soon come to resemble Hile Troy -- a man so overwhelmed by the power of sight that he could not perceive the blindness of his desire to assume responsibility for t
Lorien Conti
Dec 27, 2014 Lorien Conti rated it it was ok
I found this book really frustrating. Covenant is really making it hard for me to care about him and in turn for me to care about the book as a whole. At the end of the last book I got the impression that he some what believed and cared about the land, so, when he went back I though he would be more pleased and amenable to the idea. Instead he spends his whole time whining and moaning, just get on with it!

There was a large section in the middle of the book which he wasn't in and I thought "grea
Joel Julian
Aug 16, 2014 Joel Julian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I found Lord Foul's Bane to be a decent start to a potentially great and refreshingly original fantasy series. Unfortunately, the second book fails to deliver and has put me off reading book 3.
It's off to a good start and the build up to Covenants summoning and the transition from his world to the next sets a good foundation for the rest of the story.
It is a shame that the next 150 pages consists almost entirely of war council meetings, almost as if the writer was stalling to actually move the p
Michael Kelly
May 07, 2014 Michael Kelly rated it it was amazing
When I first read this series many, many years ago, I recall that 'The Illearth War' was my favourite instalment. I had forgotten much of the detail, but rereading it has been a joy.

The story itself focuses upon the Lords' response to Lord Foul's great assault upon the Land, as his gigantic army, twisted and empowered by the Illearth Stone, marches to destroy them. The unfolding strategies and twists and turns of the conflict are fascinating to read. There are several side quests too, which enri
Oct 26, 2015 D-day rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The Illearth War' is the second part of the 'Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever'. In this installment Covenant returns just a week later in real time, to find that 40 years has passed in the Land. Lord Foul is on the move and High Lord Elena has summoned him in the Land's time of need.
Part of the problem with the first installment, 'Lord Foul's Bane', was that Covenant was so bitter and unsympathetic. This time Covenant is basically absent for the middle section of the book, giving th
More like 3.5*s, but I didn't like it enough to round up.

This book is a lot easier to read than Lord Foul's Bane, and there's a lot more going on. Without all the introductory stuff you're more straight into the story. And in terms of the former, there wasn't quite as much spent in the head of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever/Idiot with some changes of POV in there too.

Though, to be fair to T.C., he didn't come across as as quite as much of an idiot in this book. Maybe also because we're not in hi
Branwen Sedai *of the White Ajah*
"Not all crimes are committed by evil people. Sometimes a good man does ill because of the pain in his soul."

This is the second book in the Thomas Covenant series and takes place when Thomas is summoned once more to the Land. Even though it has only been a few months since he was last there, forty years have passed there. New Lords are in place yet the battle against the Despiser rages on. To aid them, Thomas must put aside his unbelieving nature and assist the High Lord Elena on a quest to find
Brian Schwartz
Usually, the second installment of a trilogy – be it books or movies – is the strongest. When one arrives at the second installment, the characters are established, so there is room for a great deal of plot advancement, new character introductions, and a cliffhanger to lead you into the third installment.

In my reading of Donaldson’s works, I’ve found that his second installments are usually the weakest. There are several shortcomings in THE ILLEARTH WAR of three books.

First is the introduction o
Dec 04, 2012 Lucinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another treasured edition to add to the extensive Thomas Covenant trilogy, that is an indisputable classic within the fantasy genre.

As a fan of Stephen Donaldson’s trilogy ‘the second chronicles of Thomas Covenant’ I was naturally keen to also read the first trilogy that started it all, being ‘the chronicles of Thomas Covenant: the unbeliever’ with this book (the illearth war) being the second volume following on from Lord Foul’s bane. I am constantly overwhelmed by how similarly to renowned au
May 18, 2013 Dave rated it it was amazing
*For anyone reading my reviews, this is a cut-paste of my review of Lord Foul's Bane. I will write a separate review for the Second Chronicles, but for each of the first series, I will use the same review. Thanks*

Tolkien was not my introduction to fantasy fiction (neither was Donaldson); my first experience with SFF was RA Salvatore's The Crystal Shard. However, I immediately jumped into Tolkien, and afterward, Donaldson.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant are as different from Tolkien's world as
Mark Speed
Nov 25, 2014 Mark Speed rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Noooo! Lord Foul is back because the idiot didn't kill him in the first novel. Who didn't see that happening?!
Feb 25, 2016 Layne added it
The Thomas Covenant books are great yet distressing.
Why are they great? Because I love a never ending story. I love to know the history of each character and how they were introduced and what they contributed to the story. I love the generational progression. That is fascinating. The writer has quite the imagination and style. I have to refer to the glossary often to remind me of the references throughout the series (I ordered the ebooks).

This is why this series distressing? The author pulls yo
Damien Sulla-Menashe
After being largely disappointed by the first book in the series, I have to say I liked this one a lot more. In the first book the Unbeliever, a leper, comes into this mystical land after having a minor accident in the real world. Believing himself to be under a delusion he finds that he has been healed of his disease and overwhelmed by his newfound feelings he rapes the woman who found him there. After a number of other adventures he eventually is returned to the real world where he finds himse ...more
Aug 10, 2014 Helen rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
When I received The Last Dark I thought I would remember the earlier stories but apparently not, so when I found a few books in a garage sale I started a re-reading. Don't have the first one, but that I do remember so not a problem This is the second and Thomas Covenant has landed just as suddenly back in the Land where Lord Foul is putting an army together and the Council of Lords is trying whatever they can to strengthen their own army. It was interesting following a sufferer from Hansen's dis ...more
James Reid
Feb 05, 2014 James Reid rated it it was amazing
Chronicles of Thomas Covenent Book 2

I strongly recomend reading the first book in the series (and spoilers of first book contained below).

The Illearth war has many of the weaknesses of a middle volume of a trilogy. In some ways it is clearly bridging between the introduction to the world and the climactic confrontation with Foul. It feels like it splits the narrative over too many protagonists. Covenants interactions with Elena make a point, but possibly go a bit too far.

Yet it has many strength
Angel Alfonso
Jul 12, 2016 Angel Alfonso rated it really liked it
"The Illearth War" is a (surprising) improvement on the first book of "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever", "Lord Foul's Bane". In this second part, Donaldson improves in all that made the first part a compelling fantasy book, and makes a better job in balancing the characters and the incongruities between the "Land" and the "real world". Also the weaker aspects of the first part, as some uneven or repetitive writing style are polished. All in all, it is a quite good and strong eff ...more
Quinton Baran
May 19, 2014 Quinton Baran rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Fuller
Mar 31, 2016 John Fuller rated it liked it

This book follows two paths; Covenant and a new character name Hile Troy. The parallel between the two is very good, in that Troy responds to the responsibilities asked of him in the fantasy world in a manner which we would expect of Covenant. And he suffers... and suffers... he suffers just as much as Covenant, only in a different way. Such is the theme of the book.

The description of the world and environments are amazing. Every stone has texture and when a character is awes by a view, I was al

Feb 28, 2016 Andy rated it it was ok
This is book two in in Donaldson's original 1977 Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever trilogy. What drew me to the series is that Covenant is somewhat of an anti-hero with real-world flaws. The Illearth War, like it's predecessor, featured excellent writing but the plot was a bit slow-going and too often delved into Tolkien-esque world building for my tastes. Definitely will read the third book as I'm invested.
Nov 29, 2015 Emeyin rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-fantasy
What I didn't like:

Thomas Covenant. He's the same character from Book 1. Annoying, negative, whiny and despicable. The change of POV was a nice reprieve from the guy.

How almost everyone in the Land loves him although he hasn't accomplished anything. Because of a ring he doesn't know how or care to use.

The High Lord's infatuation with him despite all the evil things he's done to her and her family. The "love story" that came out of nowhere.


Those where the major things I didn't like in t
Vincent Riddle
Jan 13, 2015 Vincent Riddle rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

Much better than Lord Foul's Bane, but that's because it centers on Hile Troy. He's easier to identify with than Covenant and not nearly as depressing. Sometimes I wanted to slap Covenant upside the head tell him to give his ring to someone else. I was in High School when I read this book and I thought Troy was my kind of hero. He accepted the Land as real and did all in his power to save it. He was a man of action, led a desperate army sure to lose, and had a clever plan to defeat the
The second book in Thomas covenant series although starts strongly, but once Covenant gets summoned to the land it just drags too much, the last part of the book I just skipped through the audio listening to important parts only. The first book at least had some good descriptions of Land but this book is filled with cardboard characters and they just keep on giving the same reaction for every event, it just starts to get on your nerves after a time.

Some of the strong points of the book are

Mar 12, 2009 Andrew rated it liked it
I picked this up a year or two after the first novel. I had been sufficiently perplexed to ask my friend the conditions under which Covenant's magic activated, and he spelt it out factually.

It was all very clear, yet unsatisfying. I read the book, and this time I fell into it. It was a different kind of fantasy, with allegoric hints that I still couldn't comprehend.
Ren Bedell
Oct 01, 2015 Ren Bedell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book
Stephen Donaldson takes Thomas Covenant on another strange journey through the Land. The second book in the series is much better than the first, which the first was great already. It introduces more aspects of the world, but doesn't it in a more organic way. The first book has Thomas Covenant getting told many stories about the Land, while in Illearth War he learns more about actually being involved. The plot of this book also moves much quicker and has a bit more originality to it. Thomas Cove ...more
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Stephen Reeder Donaldson is an American fantasy, science fiction, and mystery novelist; in the United Kingdom he is usually called "Stephen Donaldson" (without the "R"). He has also written non-fiction under the pen name Reed Stephens.


Stephen R. Donaldson was born May 13, 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio. His father, James, was a medical missionary and his mother, Ruth, a prostheti
More about Stephen R. Donaldson...

Other Books in the Series

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever (3 books)
  • Lord Foul's Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #1)
  • The Power That Preserves (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #3)

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“Another blast from Rivenrock shivered the air. It snatched Mhoram's head up, and he faced Covenant with tears streaming down his cheeks. "It is as I have said," he breathed achingly. "Madness is not the only danger in dreams." 3 likes
“Do not hurt where holding is enough; do not wound where hurting is enough; do not maim where wounding is enough; and kill not where maiming is enough; the greatest warrior is he who does not need to kill.” 3 likes
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