Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Power That Preserves (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #3)” as Want to Read:
The Power That Preserves (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #3)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Power That Preserves

(The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever #3)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  23,914 ratings  ·  385 reviews
"A trilogy of remarkable scope and sophistication."--Los Angeles Times

Twice before Thomas Covenant had been summoned to the strange otherworld where magic worked. Twice before he had been forced to join with the Lords of Revelstone in their war against Lord Foul, the ancient enemy of the Land.

Now he was back--to a Land ravaged by the armies of Lord Foul. The Lords were bes
Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages
Published October 12th 1987 by Del Rey Books (first published October 1978)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Power That Preserves, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Power That Preserves

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  23,914 ratings  ·  385 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Power That Preserves (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #3)
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The second book of the series ended with a fairly bad situation. As a result the last defenders of the Land have almost no hope to win. Their last resort it to try summoning Thomas Covenant yet again; only this time he managed to resist the summons - and for good reasons. Thus High Lord Mhoram must lead the resistance to the onslaught for as long as he can while still hoping for a miracle.

After the first two books I did not expect any kind of action from Covenant - except for the very minor one
My reviewing vocabulary is not the strongest. Is it considered "overwritten" when an author takes way too long building up every plot point while simultaneously having too many plot points to begin with? Or is "overwritten" just when a writer uses language that is conspicuously ornate, such as "inanition" when "hunger" will do? Or maybe it could apply to both issues? I'm just trying to figure out the best way to describe the main issues I have upon completing this book. I think overwriting can e ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Based on my experience of the two previous books in this trilogy, I wasn't expecting to love this book. But right from the off it grabbed me in a way the others haven't. You're thrown right in there and the pace doesn't let up for the whole rest of the book. I devoured the last about 150 pages, eager to see the resolution of everything that had happened up until that point. Thomas Covenenant even went some small ways to redeeming himself in my eyes, and it was nice to see a little more heroism f ...more
Branwen Sedai *of the Brown Ajah*
He faltered and his eyes fell. "High Lord, does it come to this? Is this the end for us-for the Land?"

Mhoram put a firm hand on Quaan's shoulder. "No, my friend. We have noit come to the last of ourselves. And the Unbeliever-Do not forget Thomas Covenent."

After a moment, Quaan murmered, "Do you yet trust him?"

The High Lord did not hesistate. "I trust that Despite is not the sum of life."

Friends, I have a confession to make. One that I really never thought I would utter.

I have grown very fond of
Michael Kelly
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is magnificent! I've reread the first Thomas Covenant trilogy after some 30ish years, mainly because I want to read the latest, concluding trilogy in the series but need to refresh my memory first. I enjoyed 'Lord Foul's Bane' and loved 'The Illearth War', but I had forgotten just how tremendous this final book of the First Chronicles is.

It ties up a lot of loose ends from the first two volumes, bringing the stories of such wounded characters as Lena, Trell, Triock and Foamfollower to their
Mark Mitchell
Mar 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the conclusion to the first book of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. Though I enjoyed the first two, even now, thinking back on it more than thirty years later, I believe this book was magnificent. Donaldson is able to weave wisdom and sheer humanity into the story with such intensity that I had a love/hate relationship with Covenant and the story the whole way through, but I still had it finished in five days.
In this story, Covenant is brought back to the Land, but thi
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Power that Preserves, the final book in The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant trilogy, follows Thomas Covenant again returning to the Land, which is preparing for a final assault by Lord Foul.

Being the third in the trilogy, there’s not a lot of plot points to talk about because it risks spoiling everything, so all I can say is that this followed the series rather faithfully. And for the first time since reading Lord Fouls Bane, the first in the series, I finally started to understand Thomas Cove
Graeme Rodaughan
Sep 21, 2016 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No-one really
Shelves: fantasy, re-read
Re-reading the Kindle version in 2022.

Shelves and ratings cleared pending re-review.

Bought the kindle version on the 18th April 2022.


The review of the original paperback will be superseded by a new review informed by a re-read of the Kindle version of this book. The Kindle version review will appear above the line. The original Review of the Paperback is below.


I have
Jul 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 23, 2017 rated it did not like it
I'm about to move, so I am going through my books and deciding which will come with me and which will ... stay in a local charity shop.

This entire series will soooooooooooooo stay right here. It sure has to be among the worst, most boring and direst fantasy spectacles I have ever had the misfortune to buy and read. I hated this 15 years ago, and my feelings haven't changed. Except that these days I also find it terminally overwritten.
Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 08, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I once heard someone describe these books as: Book 1 life is crap. Book 2 crap piles up. Book 3 we discover plumbing.

Apt description.

Mr. Donaldson should have left it at that and allowed this series to die a quiet death. I've read nothing by him since Thomas Covenant...and I only read the first book in the second trilogy as I wasn't willing to get TRAPPED in another series about "woe is me life is so unfair" Thomas Covenant.

Covenant dragged his feet refusing to believe that The Land was real thr
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dan Young
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Story gets a 5. Donaldson's writing style gets a 2. I struggled through this trilogy, but find that I am happy that I did so. As the author spent 90% of the book getting to where he was going leaving scant time and details to I found myself getting bogged down and a little bored. Covanant is an impotent jerkface who's primary motivations come from dealing with a disease of which I have no personal experience.

But the originality of the story--which can be so hard to come by in the fantasy genre
Feb 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For reals, the book is a chore. It's a slog. It's not just because the writing is dementedly dense (with Donaldson favouring elaborate synonyms and sentence structures just for fun, "demesne" and "celerity" peppering the page), but because dammit, NOTHING goes right, EVERYTHING is hard, for EVERYBODY, all the time. The entire book — heck, the entire series — is a downward trod into greater despair and more dire circumstances, with fewer and fewer options for the good guys.

And that, strangely, i
Jay Wright
Oct 20, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the last book in the series. It is difficult to write since the ending is all important, but I will not spoil it for you. Foamfollower, the giant, returns to assist the Unbeliever as well as Trioc, but the Ravers and the Despiser are very powerful. Revelstone is placed under siege and appears as if the Despiser will win. The Unbeliever steps up and the fight begins in earnest.
Christopher Selmek
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was a commendable third chapter in the series; it ties up all the loose ends from the first book while factoring in the changes made in the second book. Also because of the way Donaldson wrote the first two books, the reader is in no way certain that there is going to be a happy ending. When the giant leads an army against Revelstone he really does seem impossible to defeat, and Covenant's situation seems hopeless.
Even after the conflict rights itself following a beautifully
Timothy Boyd
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While sometimes slow reading and you get bogged down in the ramblings of the main character these are very good books. The fantasy world Donaldson created is unique and rich in characters. Very recommended
Mar 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm giving this book 5 stars, because I can't give it 4 1/2. I've given the first two 4 stars each.
The Power that Preserves was by far the best book in the trilogy. The siege of Revelstone is epic, and Covenant's final showdown with Foul was its equal. This is great fantasy writing.
Tony Calder
Aug 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This volume brings to an end the first trilogy of the Saga of Thomas Covenant and is the easiest read of the three. Covenant is still an arsehole, but somewhat less aggressive about it than he was in previous books. Covenant still believes his experiences in The Land are a dream, although events both during the novel and at the end provide some indication to the reader of the fallacy of that belief. Also, for the first time in the series, there are chapters in which Covenant doesn't feature, whi ...more
Aaron Swinney
May 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: high-fantasy
Excellent conclusion to this strange epic journey! Really ended on a high note. My 2 favorite character from the series were amazing in this one as well. The villain of the series was compelling and well done throughout. There were so many characters and places that i loved as well.
Also, it provided a really really intelligent variation of the classic trolley problem. The series as a whole has some great moral quandries.
Brian DeMarco
Jun 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
With "The Power That Preserves", the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever comes to an end. Some have mentioned that this is the best of the series, and while I still maintain that The Illearth War is better, I can see where they are coming from.

For one thing, Thomas Covenant finally decides to proactively do something. After two books of acting out of self preservation, he finally decides to atone for all the hurt he has caused the land. He decides to take on Lord Foul at the Despiser's
Mark Redman
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Power That Preserves is the final book in the first Chronicles of Thomas Covenant arc. I have read this book and series several times over the last thirty years. I still feel it is a pivotal fantasy series that is very much undervalued and overlooked as being a Tolkien clone. That and the fact that a scene early in book one Lord Foul’s Bane, where Covenant commits (a sexual assault) that is so emotive and a major trigger warning for some readers, many don’t continue reading. Staying with the boo ...more
Jun 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is the last in a strange and interesting trilogy. It is really a compelling read, in part because the plot has an element of mystery to it; there is some sense that things are not as they seem and that until the main character figures out what's really going on he will not be able to solve the problems he needs to solve. The trilogy as a whole features several really unusual characters and a backstory that, especially coming as they did in the late seventies, seem to be startlingly ori ...more
After a long period of waiting for something to happen, I finally find myself liking a book in this trilogy. It took until the middle of the book, granted, but then I flew right through it. The pace picked up, the characters gained interest. It was good, but I'm sad that it was so long coming. However, saying that, I must emphasize again that Donaldson's style is a much vaguer, slower-paced style than I prefer to start with, so those who like that type of writing style will have probably liked t ...more
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
*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
In this, the third and final book of the Illearth War series, Donaldson (enervated beyond all reckoning, but yet with a gargantuan exertion whose puissance he could not attribute) (or something like that) pries his gaze out of his navel, stops trying to use plot to expostulate an impenetrable personal philosophy, and actually puts the storyline front and center. It's as Dire and Grim and Fraught with Self-Inflicted Misery as the other two books, but reads as legitimate fantasy, with the conflict ...more
Dec 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Too eldritch, too loamy, too mordant, too incondign.

I am being a little sarcastic here. Usually it's pleasing when a book sends me to the dictionary, and this is definitely one that stretches me, like the others. After a while it is tiring, especially because, as alluded to above, Donaldson will seize on an adjective and wrangle it about like a Labrador Retriever with a water toy. The ground is loamy, then the atmosphere is loamy, the tears are loamy, the smoke is loamy, ad nauseum.

My second di
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Also read in the dim past...

In this book, the vacuum of action in "The Ilearth War" comes to an end and battles are fought, choices are made, and our hero becomes the hero. Many ends are made ship-shape and the story arc was resolved to a reasonable state. Hence the return of the 4th star.

Since at the time this was where the story ended, I thought it was a pretty good way to wrap things up. I wasn't expecting Thomas Covenant to re-appear in the future.

(At least when Donaldson started up again, h
Oct 22, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I didn't like this series (6 books) for one simple reason: the main character is a depressed whiner who refuses to believe in the fantasy world or his tremendous power. Even if it were all a dream, he should have used his power (for good) instead of being a coward. ...more
Charlie Close
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Listening to the entire Covenant series on audiobook, narrated by Scott Brick. First Chronicles is complete (thank-you, Stephen and Scott). Now carrying on to the Second Chronicles. Looking forward to it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Golden Torc (Saga of the Pliocene Exile, #2)
  • Winter Be My Shield (Children of the Black Sun, #1)
  • Black Sun Light My Way (Children of the Black Sun, #2)
  • The Nonborn King (Saga of the Pliocene Exile, #3)
  • Split Infinity (Apprentice Adept, #1)
  • The Adversary (Saga of Pliocene Exile, #4)
  • The Many-Coloured Land (Saga of Pliocene Exile, #1)
  • Lord Foul's Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson | Summary & Study Guide
  • Blue Adept (Apprentice Adept, #2)
  • Silverthorn (The Riftwar Saga, #3)
  • Merchanter's Luck (The Company Wars, #2)
  • HELLMOUTH: A novella
  • The Sword of Shannara (The Original Shannara Trilogy, #1)
  • Caine Black Knife (The Acts of Caine, #3)
  • A Darkness At Sethanon (The Riftwar Saga, #4)
  • Finity's End (The Company Wars, #7)
  • Roadmarks
  • The White Luck Warrior (Aspect-Emperor, #2)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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 Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever (3 books)
  • Lord Foul's Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #1)
  • The Illearth War (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, #2)

Related Articles

The latest in our midyear series of roundups turns to the ever-popular genre of historical fiction, as we track the most popular books of 2022...
48 likes · 5 comments
“You did not cause his despair. Had you treated him with distrust, you would have achieved nothing but the confirmation of his distress. Distrust—vindicates itself.” 2 likes
“He had no idea where he was headed, but he knew he had to go. On each breath that panted through his locked teeth, he whispered hate as if it were a question.” 1 likes
More quotes…