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The Power That Preserves

(The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever #3)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  22,791 ratings  ·  340 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 1977)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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 ·  22,791 ratings  ·  340 reviews

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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
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
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
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.
Jul 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Graeme Rodaughan
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No-one really
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.

More of the same. Read at own risk. If at first doubt does not succeed, well doubt some more....
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
John Devlin
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.
Daniel Martin
Jul 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
read my review for "Lord Foul's Bane" it's the 1st book of the serious, i wrote it for the series in general
Sep 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, donaldson
book 3 of the story about thomas covenant. read this in '78-'79. great story! captivating and pure joy to read.
Dec 17, 2011 rated it did not like it
Self-pitying leper is self-pitying. You may open this book hoping the end is in sight. It isn't.
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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 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)

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