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Lord Foul's Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever #1)

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  26,382 ratings  ·  977 reviews
He called himself Covenant the Unbeliever, because he dared not believe in this strange alternate world on which he suddenly found himself. The magic of the Land could not be real. Loremasters could not draw fire from wood that never burned, nor force stone to flow freely under their fingers. Yet they did. Hurtloam could not regenerate ruined nerves. Yet, miraculously it d ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages
Published November 12th 1982 by Del Rey / Ballantine (first published 1977)
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Pawn of Prophecy by David EddingsMagician by Raymond E. FeistThe Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyQueen of Sorcery by David EddingsThe Elfstones Of Shannara by Terry Brooks
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41st out of 188 books — 39 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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*Soul-saddened SIGH*.....Damn, damn, can really be full of suck.

This book really torched my hopes and dreams. NOT because it was nightmarishly horrible (which it wasn’t) but because I wanted it to be so brimming with steaming chunks of mouth-watering awesome that I could write a stinging, snark-filled “anti-anti-Thomas Covenant” rant against the ranters.

I suspected I had a excellent chance of really liking this story because most of the criticism of the series revolves
Nov 18, 2008 Colin rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one.
Recommended to Colin by: someone who later changed his mind.
I've often lamented that five-star rating systems, such as the one used by GoodReads, don't allow for ratings lower than one star. Were it possible, I'd give this book negative stars; I think it actually sucks the quality away from books shelved near it, and generally makes the world a less joyful, less intelligent place to be.

You might assume from the previous statements that I dislike this book. Given that "dislike" is a pretty mild, milquetoast term on the sliding scale of affection, you woul
I am (albeit slowly) removing my reviews from goodreads since it has become Amazon. For more on why that bothers me and should bother you, please go to my profile and also here:

What I learned from this book.

Don’t agree to read the book Robert tells you is the best book in the whole world ever just because he invited you over to watch the best film in the whole world ever (Close Encounters) and you slept through all but the first ten minutes.

You know you ar
I read Lord Foul’s Bane once in grade seven (the same year I first read Macbeth and Lady Chatterly’s Lover, and The Lord of the Rings for a second time). It was a good year for me and reading. And an important year for who I would become. But I didn’t know until now how important Lord Foul’s Bane was to all of that.

This story has stuck with me in the most amazing ways. After nearly three decades, I recalled an amazing amount of detail in the pages I reread. I remembered minute details about Thom
Two years after my run in with the fallen nun and the c-word, I had a near run in with our new vice-principal (not the man, thankfully, who'd given me the strap), Mr. G---.

Our school was trying to teach us study skills before we reached high school, so we wouldn't waste our spare periods playing video games or flirting with girls or role playing or whatever else kids did to waste time in the eighties. They gave us a course called "Study Hall" and put our VP in charge.

It was a nightmare.

And I w
Wow. I really didn't like this book.

I think it was in large part due to the fact that I found the main character so utterly unlikable. Heck, he's even despicable.

Some people can read and enjoy a book despite not being able to empathize with the characters; I'm not one of those people. I actually like to care about my fictional characters.

It's pretty hard to give a flying fickle about some cranky jerk who rapes a woman in the first book. I didn't bother reading more to find out if things improve
I live in a smallish room with roughly a couple of thousand books. They are everywhere. I love the books, but I also hate the books. I'd have space if it wasn't for them, when I moved it would be easy if it didn't involve carrying what feels like an endless amount of heavy boxes packed with them. They are everywhere. The bookshelves are all double stacked. There are books on top of the normally shelved books. There are piles of them everywhere. They fall over. They are in the way. Mooncheese lik ...more
It's not so much the story--in itself, this is a well-crafted fantasy world, complete with noble horse-riding peoples, stern giants, and delicate elven-folk on a quest of profound importance against an enemy of world-shattering magnitude--as much as Donaldson's overwrought prose that makes this series something of a drag to read. Donaldson wants his tale to carry all the mythic import of Tolkien, but he doesn't quite have the poetic flair that makes Tolkien's characters live and breathe for us. ...more
Bob Aarhus
When you dream, are you responsible for your actions?

You might as well admit it: you'd probably do it, too. When Thomas Covenant -- a writer who contracts leprosy and is abandoned by his wife, his friends, and society -- falls into a comatose state, he arrives at a land where his nerves are regenerated, his impotency reversed, his status legendary as White Gold Wielder. He's the Unbeliever for a simple reason: he thinks this is all delusion, all a dream. So, yes, he rapes the young woman -- it's
The Thomas Covenant books have always held a special place in my heart. I freely admit that the series is not for everyone; the singular nature of the protagonist turns a lot of readers away before the first book (this one) is halfway finished.

Compared to other heroic fantasy, I find the Covenant books to be somehow more believable, and to have more emotional impact. The theme of redemption, present throughout the series, resonated with me when I first read the books twenty years ago, and contin
So many people love this series. Not sure why. The hero is a leperous (no, not lecherous) rapist and incredibly whiny. The bad guy is named Lord Foul, ferchissakes. I hated everything about the first few chapters of this book. Once the main character forced himself on a girl, and then the author tried to make it a sympathetic moment (for the perpetrator), I hurled it at the wall in disgust and never finished reading it.

Right around the same level of arrogant sexist manhood as Piers Anthony.
Dan Martin
The first thing you have to know about this series, and this is the real pivotal point in whether you want to read them or not, is that Thomas Coveenant is NOT A HERO. Like, in any sense. There are a couple really fantastic heroes in this book, but all of the chapters in the 1st book, and the majority thereafter all center around covenant, the unbeliever.
The story of the book is honestly a little trite. An evil lord threatening a beautiful land. Covenenant has an important ring.
But! Thomas, oh
Thomas Covenant had it all: a good family, his first book was a New York Times bestseller, his second book was in the progress. Suddenly he developed leprosy, his wife left him taking his son with her, people avoid any kind of contact with him turning him into a self-loathing bitter whining person. He is a leper outcast unclean.

Some high powers brought him to magic land where he is destined to either help fight Great Evil, or destroy everything - the choice is his. The problem is: he does not re
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This isn't so much a review of the book as a response to other reviews I have read by people who hated it, and hated it specifically because they see the protagonist, Thomas Covenant, as unlikeable -- weak, whiny, and self-pitying -- and/or because of the rape scene included in it. My position is essentially this: You can hate a character for many good reasons, but having no clue who he really is, is not one of them.

Some readers seem to want to excuse Covenant to some extent as an anti-hero, but
A Swedish friend told me I just had to read this series - it was like Tolkien but better. I borrowed the first three, and dutifully read them, waiting for the point to dawn. It never did. Tolkien, to me, is all about the language and the names, and Donaldson's names ranged between uninspired and downright moronic. ("Berek Halfhand". Bleah.) It just grated.

To add insult to injury, I managed to drop one volume into the bath while reading it, so I had to buy a new copy to return to him. I've not lo
At first I wasn't sure that I liked this novel. I had a hard time with the idea that Thomas Covenant is the ultimate anti-hero, with none of the redeeming qualities of an average anti-hero. He is a sniveling, irritating, coward who has to be prodded every step of the way. The only thing that makes him likable is that he is acting in a very human way in a very inhuman circumstance. I had to let go of wanting Covenant to shape and act like a hero. I am looking forward to the rest of the series.
Well that started off a lot better than I thought it might. And it ended... a lot worse than I hoped it might.

My full (and this one is very full!) review can be found over on my blog.

However, the brief summary version would be: this is a fascinating Calvinist (though the author left the faith of his parents) reimagining of Tolkienian neo-Romantic fantasy, with a rich (but in my opinion not yet absurd) use of language, dozens of fantastic lines, and a deep and calculated ideological-theological s
Mike (the Paladin)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Warning: Readers should not expect the main character to show up, draw a magic scimitar or lightsaber, and slice through the enemy. In this series, the bad guys are just part of Thomas Covenant's problem. He is also fighting enemies within himself. Be prepared to feel troubled over his plight and occasionally frustrated by his unwillingness to accept his situation and to fight. There's still plenty of excitement and all the elements of well crafted fantasy. But there's so much more.
Jason Olson
I read this book when I was in 5th or 6th grade. I had just read lord of the rings, and I was searching through my dad's books for something else to read and I found this...

I remember thinking at the time that for as much as I liked the LOTR, the bad guys just weren't bad enough. The good guys were a little too good. For as much as I loved middle earth, I felt like the world Tolkien built was much grander and complex than the characters that inhabited it.

Lord Foul's Bane answered those issues
I picked this up because I was told that it was quite good. I was disappointed to learn that it is exactly the opposite of that. If you can get past the ridiculously generic fantasy place and character names, you're left with a flat, poorly-written story and an unbelievable character that the author has desperately try to pad out with some dark attributes that just don't quite fit.
First of the Thomas Covenant series. My husband remembers this was all the rage in 1976. I started reading this series much later. Everywhere I went with this book people told me they had read it and how good it was. I was doubtful at first but my roommate's boyfriend told me it got off to a slow start but not to give up. He said it was worth it to keep reading and boy, was he right! I think Stephen R. Donaldson became a better writer as he went through this series. I had read a couple of his la ...more
Aug 10, 2014 Werner marked it as started-and-not-finished  ·  review of another edition
Since I only read a relatively short way into this book, I wouldn't presume to review it; this is simply a short note to explain why I didn't finish it. For me, the fact that the "hero" is a rapist (he rapes a girl he's basically just met, after she befriended him) is a total deal breaker. I can identify with and root for flawed protagonists with some baggage, who don't/haven't always made perfect choices; but for me Thomas is across the line, big-time.
Wow. To say this book is not what I expected just does not cover it. I think I enjoyed it? I'm not sure yet. I am having trouble putting how I feel about this book into words. I really like this review of the book, and particularly these sections:

"Thomas Covenant himself has stuck with me. He is frustrating, spiteful, ugly, tormented, cynical, dark, brooding, and infuriatingly self-pitying. He is every bit the Unbeliever he names himself. And Stephen R. Donaldson wants him to be that way. He nee
Have you ever heard the saying that if you meet a jerk in the morning, you just ran into a jerk. But if you keep encountering jerks all day, maybe it's you who is the jerk.

Thomas Covenant is a jerk. Or at least as far as I can tell he is. Contracting leprosy, Covenant is sent to away for six months to for counselling and treatment. Upon returning home, he finds his wife has left him and taken their son with her. His community wants nothing to do with him, even to the point that complete strange
3.5-4. Thomas Covenant is a bitter, lonely, self-centered, self-loathing, cowardly, quick-to-anger, selfish, impotent leper. Thomas Covenant is not an anti-hero...he's no hero of any sort. He leads no one, champions nothing, and does nothing right. He is ripped from this world - a world that hates him (Leper outcast unclean! - this is what everyone says and thinks about him) - by an evil unknown to him, called Lord Foul. He's then lead on a quest across "The Land" - the tolkienesque/Narnia-ish w ...more
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
If I could give a "bomb" rating, I would, because this turkey deserves it.
This book hasn’t aged well. Perhaps back in 1978 when it was published, it was amazing and interesting because there was nothing to compare it to. Unfortunately, the world has moved on and left this poor guy in the back of the used bookstore, where he sits and twiddles his dusty laurels and hopes for some sucker to read him. That sucker was me.

Minor spoilers here, so turn away if you must, but honestly I don’t think it will alter the reading experience a whole lot…so here goes.

The main character
Bobo was whining about my spendthrift ways with 5 star rating, so I figured I'd better mix in a few fish carcasses amongst the fillet mignon.

Pretentious, whiny tripe.
If I could change one decision in my life it would be picking up this whole series at one go. At the time I felt compelled to finish anything I started (a habit I have since successfully exorcised), so I soldiered on to the bitter end of the first trilogy, cheering loudly every time a diseased bit of the protagonist fell off and pra
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Wondering if I made a mistake 19 229 Feb 20, 2015 01:15PM  
Sword & Sorce...: Stephen Donaldson 12 39 Apr 19, 2014 10:47AM  
The anti hero 47 187 Jan 07, 2014 10:37AM  
What's The Name o...: unlikely, sceptic hero, questions reality of new world [s] 8 30 Apr 03, 2013 09:12AM  
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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)
  • The Illearth War (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #2)
  • The Power That Preserves (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #3)
The Illearth War (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #2) 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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“We didn't make the world. All we have to do is live in it.” 14 likes
“Where do you get dreams like this?” 9 likes
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