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The One Tree

(The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant #2)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  17,372 ratings  ·  165 reviews
Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery begin their search for the One Tree that is to be the salvation of the Land. Only he could find the answer and forge a new Staff of Law�but fate decreed that the journey was to be long, the quest arduous, and quite possibly a failure....
Paperback, 496 pages
Published June 23rd 1997 by Del Rey (first published January 1st 1982)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  17,372 ratings  ·  165 reviews

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Branwen Sedai *of the Brown Ajah*
"Freedom doesn't mean you get to choose what happens to you. But you do get to choose how you react to it."

Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever and white gold wielder, leper and lover, who had taught her to treasure the danger of being human.

In this second book in the second Thomas Covenant trilogy, Covenant and Linden Avery travel with their Giant and Haruchai companions on a quest to find the One Tree. Covenant believes that if he makes a new Staff of Law from this tree it will be the start of bringing
Graeme Rodaughan
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: For-get-about-it
This is me doing a drive by review of this series. Which I have read in full, once, and I bought all the books in hardcover, or trade paperback - and then subsequently passed them on to 2nd hand book shops - because I knew I'd only ever read them once.

Ahh... "The One Tree," I remember it well ... just kidding, another completely forgettable book in this saga of a rapist who must again doubt his way to victory against a big bad.
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Read when we were still wrestling for grubs...

Like the 2nd book of the 1st trilogy, this book is a travelogue: there's a quest to re-create the Staff of Law and they take another boat ride. But, unlike that book, there is action (and sorrow) a-plenty in this volume.

At the end, rather than feeling like it was all just "setup", we have had a serious undertaking that ends in (I won't tell you, not even with a spoiler tag.)

Like book #1, this has a tighter structure to it that keeps your interest and
Mar 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
There is a scene where Avery outsmarts a sorcerer that sticks in my mind years later for the way different pieces came together in a dramatic showdown.

This book shows more of Donaldson's world - evidencing an alternative creation story - and is more traditional fantasy adventure.
Sep 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Valerie by: Jeff
The original anti-hero, paving the way for all those who were not good by the conventional sense.
Dan Young
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This story seems to be getting better with time. Characters are developed nicely, and there are lots of them. Covenant remains a constant but his actions and character become a force of nature all to itself.
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
*For those who read my reviews, I am re-using the same review for each of the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I will include thoughts on all three novels in the one review. Cheers*

People say, all the time, how the second installment in a trilogy is usually the best or the darkest of the three. Donaldson did the "darker" bit in The Illearth War (Book 2 of the first Chronicles). But his second trilogy managed the same thing. Everything that was awesome about The Land in the first trilogy is
Jan 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Thomas Covenant is seeking for the One Tree to forge a new Staff of Law in order to free the Land from the clutches of the Sunbane and defeat Lord Foul.

I love this book to tatters. Like all the other volumes in the series, it required a re-reading round before all the layers of psychological tension could unravel from beneath the complicated language (English is not my native tongue, but I like the challenge books akin to this pose, nonetheless) and actually sink in. I'm not one hundred percent
Jun 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer30
When I was about 16 I saw this book in the local library and thought it sounded wonderful, but then realised it was part 2 of a trilogy, and THEN realised this was the SECOND trilogy of a pair.

I like a challenge, and I like big books and series, so a little later I bought and read all 6 books in about a month or so. That 2400+ pages surpassed even my enjoyment of Lord of the Rings.

Ah! Now I realise the book I'd MOST like to see as a film would be one of these (or all of them). That would be a mi
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really like this series. Great book. Exciting, keeps your interest.

Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery begin their search for the One Tree that is to be the salvation of the Land. Only he could find the answer and forge a new Staff of Law�but fate decreed that the journey was to be long, the quest arduous, and quite possibly a failure....
Steven Meyers
Dec 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s important to read the first book ‘The Wounded Land’ before beginning ‘The One Tree,’ so you can truly understand what is motivating the protagonists in their perilous journey. Linden Avery takes center stage in the second installment due to Thomas Covenant being incapacitated by malicious means. Thrust into the lead role sets up some interesting dynamics for Avery. It helps that Mr. Donaldson takes time to explain some of her traumatic childhood that both help and hurt Avery’s efforts. The ...more
Tony Calder
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

I almost feel as though I could stop my review there, but I do have more to say. Donaldson's world-building remains excellent and his characters are well-developed and strongly fleshed-out. But it is those same characters who are the main reason for the 2 stars I am giving this book.

The first trilogy is renowned for having a main character who is extremely difficult to like. The first book of this second trilogy carries on in the same vane, although Covenant has found some level of redempt
Shannon Appelcline
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The One Tree is unlike anything else in the Covenant series to date. It continues directly on from the first book of the Second Chronicles, and acts as a classic middle volume in a trilogy, with all of the tragedy and despair that implies. (Think: The Empire Strikes Back). It also moves further away from Covenant than we ever have before, with the vast majority of the chapters being from Linden's point-of-view. Finally, it leaves "The Land" for the first time ever, visiting more distant locales. ...more
Feb 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a common movie series cliche in the fantasy/sci fi world that each successive installment gets "darker". Donaldson's first four books do follow that trend, but it was almost pitch black to begin with. The fifth, this traumatising experience, plunges into a veritable black hole. More accurately put, The One Tree doesn't just get "darker", it continues the tendency of the the series to distance itself more and more from worldy affairs and delve deeper and deeper into the hearts and minds of i ...more
Feb 25, 2016 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
Christopher Selmek
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Having completed the second book in the second trilogy, I can definitely say I liked the first one better. In the first trilogy, Thomas Covenant traveled back and forth between our world and The Land between each volume, allowing the reader to see how the war with the Despiser has progressed. The second chronicles is all one sojourn in The Land that lacks for direction.
I understand they had to sail to the isle of the Elohim in order to figure out the location of the One Tree. But why was this in
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Yet again, a review of the whole trilogy rather than each individual book. No spoilers of the story variety. The gist, for those who want to skip the lengthy review: these three books are more action-packed and immediately engaging than the previous trilogy, and Donaldson continued to hold true to the strengths that made the first novels a pleasure to read.

This trilogy was the better written, for me. More action packed, more events-driven and easier to get into. The horrors being wrought on the
Sep 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: donaldson
had the hardcover of this one and this one was the last i read. i was reading them as they came out. things happen. great story. what i ought to do is start at the beginning again, with the first trilogy and go through. this one was #5, or the 2nd of the 2nd trilogy but they all featured thomas covenant. fascinating story.

Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The One Tree ticks along in a dramatically different vein to the previous 3 books. The Sunbane is marvellously detailed - the description of the time between The Power that Preserves and Covenant's next visit 10 years (3000 years later?!) is tackled fantastically, culminating in his explosion of wild magic mid-way through the book is unforgettable.
Mar 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Nick by: Ted Jennings
I picked this up right after reading the previous one (The Woudned Land). I think this one might be even better. It moved from just being a page turner to bringing in deeper themes of power, morality, and manipulation. I'm reading the next one now... we'll see how it stacks up.
Rob Hermanowski
Apr 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, e-book
Re-read this as part of my preparation for the final Covenant book publication about one year from now! This is the only book of ther series that takes us outside The Land, as Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery travel by giantship in search for the mythical One Tree to form a new Staff of Law.
John Devlin
Mar 21, 2007 rated it liked it
Donaldson's unique talent for delivering fantasy in a way that's literary, quiet, and yet still very absorbing has always been a mystery to me.
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The One Tree is the second book in the second Covenant series, and is thus the 5th novel in the sequence. It is also perhaps my favorite in the entire first two series (I have not read the third series yet -- this re-read of the originals is my preparation for doing that). Unlike the other 5 books in the first two series, rather than a journey through the Land, this novel is about a sea voyage.

In the previous novel, Covenant decided that he wanted to carve a new Staff of Law from The One Tree,
Jackie Wadsworth
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I don't really know how to review this. It is the second chronicle of the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever.

Thomas has come back to The Land to discover that while ten years have passed for him, thousands have passed in the Land (think Narnia). In that time, Lord Foul has re-emerged from wherever Covenant sent him at the end of the first Chronicles, and is attacking the Land with the Sunbane, which send plagues of drought, flood, famine etc across The Land on an almost weekly bas
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-this-book
This book is, in my opinion, quite possibly the strongest in the two original trilogies. I felt that way when I read it decades ago, and, after finishing it in the middle of the night last night, I still feel the same way. It will definitely be worth starting at the beginning ("Lord Foul's Bane"), though, and working your way up to this one. You need to get to know the characters and their earlier challenges and successes and failures in order for this one to pay off the way it does. It's defini ...more
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it

This feels more like an incomplete, because it's less of an ending than the previous 4 books. I'm ready to jump right to White Gold Wielder.

So many great scenes that I remember vividly from the last time I read it years and years ago. (A few scenes I thought were here but must be in the next one). This is Donaldson letting his imagination go with some great world-building. There's still all his typical stuff (interesting word choice, pages of just internal conversations with TC and LA, C
Jonathan O'Brien
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter Coath
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Few authors do it better than Tolkien but Donaldson does. His creates and entire fantasy world with totally fleshed out characters not least our hero Thomas who is the most unlikely hero ever. The author takes us on a journey through an incredible world during which we become totally invested in the an our new surroundings and every one within them. The books in both the first and second chronicles just keep getting better and better and it is difficult to choose a favourite. The One Tree wins b ...more
Bill Meehan
May 27, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: kindle
We know, through the first 4 books, Covenant has his struggles and is often filled with self pity and struggles to overcome. That's why we love him. But...

This book centers on Linden, and she brings the self pity to ridiculous heights. Practically the entire novel is Linden in one form or another saying woe is me, poor me, I had a bad childhood so I won't contribute on the quest, I've let friends die due to my inaction so poor me I can't help my friends now. On and on.....

This was a brutally p
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas, Linden and gang journey to find The One Tree. This book introduces more new races that I didn’t find as interesting as others – the Elohim were ok, the gaddhi adventure was excellent and the final section at the tree was ok. In the previous books, almost every section of the book was excellent but there were parts of this book that felt forced and not as dramatic as preceding events. Stephen Donaldson is at his best when he builds up to events. The trilogy is following a common pattern a ...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

Other books in the series

The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (3 books)
  • The Wounded Land (The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, #1)
  • White Gold Wielder (The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, #3)

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