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

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  18,177 ratings  ·  234 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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The Silmarillion by J.R.R. TolkienThe Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le GuinDragonsong by Anne McCaffreyThe Sword of Shannara by Terry BrooksDragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
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Community Reviews

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"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
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
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
Lorien English
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
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
'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 *Blaidd Drwg*
"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
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
*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
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
Mark Speed
Noooo! Lord Foul is back because the idiot didn't kill him in the first novel. Who didn't see that happening?!
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
Feb 20, 2015 blake added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
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
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
Quinton Baran
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vincent Riddle
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
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.
Michael Kelly
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
It's an acquired taste not suited for all but for those who enjoy such books like this enjoy them for good reasons. First you need to read the first book to get what in hellfire is going on, but I digress, there are several new characters, some flashed out some not, that were necessary as to push the fact that this book is forty years after the first book. It's a complex reading men't for those who like to think, having tones of suggestions to things to come and some dark under tones. Thomas Cov ...more
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."
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
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
Bogdan Dobrescu
It seems that the second novel dissapoints exactly where the first one exceled:the fluid narration is replaced by a very lazy, very long and with so many un-worthy specifics.I would have loved to know more about the forestal, about the creatures in Foul`s army, about even the ranyhims,and even about the Lords, but i found the narration filled with the same inner turmoils, heavy dialogs and, well, the same *cliffhanger" ending of the first.But maybe these are the effects of translation on high-fa ...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 this second of three books.

First is the introduction of Hil
I think The Illearth War is a step up from Lord Foul's Bane. Its tragic characters gives the story a palpable sense of struggling against the ideas and beliefs that defines one as a person. There is a passion there that gives the story a lot of raw emotion shown through the struggles of those characters, and that is especially true with Elena.

Being a continuation, we see the effects of Covenant's actions from the first book, and those consequences make themselves known throughout the story, some
Amber Harris
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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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)
Lord Foul's Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #1) The Power That Preserves (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #3) White Gold Wielder (The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, #3) The Wounded Land (The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, #1) The One Tree (The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, #2)

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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
“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.” 1 likes
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