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

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  14,839 ratings  ·  189 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...more
Mass Market Paperback, 527 pages
Published November 1989 by Del Rey (first published 1977)
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The Silmarillion by J.R.R. TolkienThe Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Sword of Shannara by Terry BrooksLord Foul's Bane by Stephen R. DonaldsonA Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony
Best Fantasy of the 70s
26th out of 57 books — 76 voters
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. LewisThe Subtle Knife by Philip PullmanNeverwhere by Neil GaimanAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Fantasy Books Set in Two Worlds
77th out of 438 books — 548 voters


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Community Reviews

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Evgeny
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...more
D-day
'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
Melanie
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...more
Branwen Targaryen *the blood of the dragon*
"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...more
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...more
Lucinda
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...more
Dave
*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...more
James Reid
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...more
Andrew
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.
Jake
As Thomas Covenant's story continues, it's here we start to see the full repercussions of past mistakes. This series is so good because it shows you so much beauty and joy, only to see it utterly destroyed on a scale rarely seen. It's this sense of scale that makes the fight against the Despiser seem so important, so desperate, and it rivets you from beginning to end.
Jeffrey Greek
It says a lot about this series that the best thing you can say about the main character is "Well, at least he didn't bang his own daughter."
Tom
The Illearth War, the second book in Stephen R. Donaldson’s initial Thomas Covenant trilogy, picks up where Lord Foul’s Bane left off, at least in Covenant’s “real” world. He is once again summoned to The Land and although little time has passed for Covenant, forty years has gone by in The Land bringing those characters closer to the doom promised by Lord Foul in the first book.

Once again, Covenant struggles with the reality of this alternate existence, initially not committing himself to help b...more
Staciek
Interesting in that some parts are told from a different perspective, with Covenant absent. Some parts of the story are retold by others, without direct witness to the events. Interesting choice by the author. Some other author might have simultaneous activity presented chapter by chapter from an omnicient point of view.

It has been years since I first read the book, so I enjoyed rediscovering the aspects of the quest. Somewhat depressing but it is about an evil and a war. Covenant needed to los...more
Amber Harris
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jess
Yeah, I really didn't like the first book. But this, surprisingly, really grew on me. I even found myself craving this book at the times where I couldn't afford to spend time reading. I was literally in love with this book. LOVE. As in, one of my favourites. Seriously.

Firstly, I'd like to comment on the writing. The prose was clear and yet deliciously descriptive. I could visualise everything perfectly, and then some. I felt myself drawn to every moment. It had the same complex qualities as in t...more
Joakim Ruud
This is more like it. Here is the intransingent Thomas Covenant we all love and hate. Gone is the wishy-washy, unable to make up his mind, reluctant unbeliever of the first book.

This time it's personal, and he will lie, betray and damn in order to not have his leper's self-control eroded even further that it was after his first trip to The Land.

Here is where Donaldson hits his stride. Gone is the paper-thin premise of the first book. Here is a much more interesting one: It doesn't matter if The...more
M. J.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andrew Wilson

The second volume in the epic Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.
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....


### Review


'Something entirely out of the ordinary ! you'll want to go straight through Lord Foul's Bane, Th

...more
Roy Helge
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...more
Gary
Some reviewers have commented on the Donaldson books that he tends to annoy by going out of his way to use English words that rarely ever appear in print. I have a pretty extensive vocabulary, but Donaldson was a Uni professor and his subject was English, so no surprise! I admit he pulled out quite a few words that I had never enountered before. I took it for a learning experience! As for The Illearth War, Covenenant the Leper finds himself back in the Land, where he has no choice but to be. Aga...more
Martin Adil-Smith
Part two of the The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever is definetly better than the first installment.

My issues with part one were that the main character was fundamentally unlikeable and his attitude/ world-view remained unchanged throughout the book. Coupled with a horrific sexual attack - which he appears to never be brought to justice for - made me leary of the second installment.

How wrong was I? Thomas Covenant is sucked back into realm of The Land where 40 years have passed in a...more
Jason Olson
Book 2 of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I read these when I pretty young, 5th grade I think. Alot of the big words probably went right over my head. I think the important thing is that I felt like I knew what the author meant. "Roynish" for example, always made me think "thick and syrup and regal". So when it was used to describe Ur-Viles barking, I always thought of them as having menacing growls that were thick but somehow more dignified or intelligent than a dog barking. The word actuall...more
Ross Kitson
The Illearth war

This is the second book in the First Thomas Covenant trilogy and I must say that I enjoyed it far more than the first. I'm uncertain whether that was simply because I'm more used to Donaldson's distinct style, or because the book is simply more engaging.
In the book Covenant returns to the land to find forty years have passed and Lord Foul's armies are on the move. He reunites with the Lords (I won't spoil the twist but it was fairly easy to anticipate) and travels with them to ba...more
Lyle
More Donaldson writing excellence, and more frustration w/ the struggling protagonist Thomas Covenant. Is the Land real or a dream? Either way, why can't Covenant just be nice and play along in his dream? Cuz he's a leper, and if lepers succumb to a delusion, they lose the necessary focus and determination needed to (hopefully) survive in real life.

Well, no co-operation or commiseration from Covenant still. In fact, its worse! He's meaner, less participatory, and actively lies to the people of t...more
Sebastien
Dec 17, 2011 Sebastien rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Fan de Dark Fantasy et de Anti-Héros
Recommended to Sebastien by: Guillaume Michel
Shelves: dark-fantasy
Étant encore sous le choc du premier volume, je n'était vraiment pas sûr si je voulais lire la suite. Oui c'était bon, oui je m'attendais à un héros pas très cool, mais pas à une enfoiré de chialeux fini qui ne sait que s'apitoyer sur son sort à ce point là. J'ai rarement autant espéré qui arrive malheure à un personnage principale à ce point. Thomas Covenant fait des crime impardonnable dans le premier livre et il est toujours traité avec respect par les personnages secondaires qui le voient co...more
Bodi Yuhico
This is the filler book of the trilogy. (Spoilers Ahead)

The book started out quite nicely, with Covenant reminiscing about the Land. But when he does get back to the Land, the POV switches to Hile Troy, and does so till almost the end of the book! First of all, no matter how much of an asshole Covenant is, he's the asshole I got to like after the previous book. Troy was someone I couldn't even have sympathy for. When it switches back to Covenant in the end, I breathed a sigh of relief. Too late...more
Gabriel
Ok, I skipped Lord Foul's Bane and went to the second book. Still, I figured out what I missed and was very impressed with the ideas present in this book. While some of the aspects I was most looking forward to (the possibility that this is just a dream is a little hard to swallow when we follow characters that are not Thomas Covenant for a third of the book) were not present, others were there. It was obvious to me why Stephen King recommends this trilogy in his treatise on horror, Danse Macabr...more
Scott
Oct 16, 2007 Scott rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: everyone
This, the second book in the first trilogy, may be my favorite of the entire series. Donaldson delivers great writing, story and allusiions with depth and conviction few others can attain. His use of Cause & Effect throughout the series is nothing short of masterful. His characters have depth and motivations beyond most writers'.

lets face it, Thomas Covenant is a bitter, twisted jerk. He's started a chain reaction that will change this alternate world and continually looks for ways to absol...more
Junnibeib
I remember reading this book when i was a bit younger and it was actually by accident as a friend of mine just gave me the first 2 books when i told her that i liked fantasy. i put them in my shelf and read them maybe a year later and i couldn´t put it down.. i found the world that Thomas visited was so wonderful. it has been a long time so i can´t really get into any specifics but i will recommend this collection to everyone wanting a good fantasy ! i read the first 2 books and i searched every...more
Marianne
Thomas Covenant is still an ass in this book, and still not very compelling to me as an anti-hero. He's petty, but not in an interesting way. He's still a leper, and it still isn't very important to this book. And he still seems to be there as a convenient plot hole creator.

This book, however, has more interest in it than the first in the series. I'd almost rate it 3 stars, but Goodreads says that means 'I liked it', and I can't exactly say that. I think this book is more compelling precisely be...more
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Stephen Reeder Donaldson is an American fantasy, science fiction and mystery novelist. He earned his bachelor's degree from The College of Wooster and master's degree from Kent State University. He currently resides in New Mexico.

Stephen R. Donaldson was born on the 13th May 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio. His father, James, was a medical missionary and his mother, Ruth, a prosthetist (a person skilled i...more
More about Stephen R. Donaldson...
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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." 2 likes
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