** spoiler alert **
This is the third book in the third installment of Stephen R. Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and it was an engaging read as always. Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery featured prominently, Linden having returned Covenant from the dead right at the start of the book. With them is an entourage of interesting folk who continue to support Covenant and Linden in their quest to save the world from destruction. Said destruction is imminent largely because Linden's ritual to return Covenant to the world of the living woke up the Worm, and an awake Worm's only purpose is to consume the land and all life. If you've read the other books, you will probably know that Covenant is very much an anti-hero. Despite spending much of his time whining and refusing to do anything, somehow he still ends up doing what is needed. Linden is also a very reluctant hero, suffering from depression and a huge load of self-doubt. Before the Worm can be tackled, there are a few important tasks involving dealing with family troubles - rescuing Linden's son and fighting Covenant's son and his insane ex-wife. There are also some troublesome immortals to contend with. So, with much grumbling and misery, and with Covenant wandering in and out of a catatonic stage at the worst times, somehow they manage to handle business. Then, finally, it's time to face the Worm! Unfortunately, that is where we are greeted with "Continued in Book Four". The first set of books was a trilogy, and the second set of books was a trilogy, so I thought that this book three would finish things off, but apparently Donaldson felt no overwhelming desire for consistency with the whole trilogy thing. Yes, I will be back for book four, and it seems like they can probably finish things off in one more book so I don't think we are at risk of a book five. As for how this book rates compared to earlier ones, well, I liked the first trilogy best, but this book still delivered the excellent character development and adventure you'd expect. You may not LIKE the characters, but you get to understand them in all their flaws and strengths. Donaldson is not afraid to use his vocabulary, which is enjoyable for us word-nerds and folks who enjoy classical literature, though some of words threw me a bit on this one - what color is "migraine" anyhow? My co-workers think it must be a painful shade of red. So, worth reading but you might want a very comprehensive dictionary nearby, just in case.