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The Runes of the Earth (The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  5,726 Ratings  ·  236 Reviews
More than two decades ago, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series sold more than 6 million copies. Now, Stephen R. Donaldson returns with new Covenant novels. In the original series, a man becomes a pariah in his town when he is struck down with a disease long since believed eradicated. Knocked unconscious during a fall, Thomas is transported to a fantastic world where a ...more
Hardcover, 593 pages
Published 2004
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May 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
OK, lookit. Surgically attaching a thesaurus to your hip does not make you a brilliant writer. When I was younger and reading the first two trilogies it was easier for me to assume that behind the turgid prose was some great mystery that I was just too stupid to figure out. Turns out -- nope, just turgid prose. (And I hear that he took time off between the last series and this one to *improve his writing*? Uh, FAIL.) Donaldson is a crap writer, with characters who revel in their own self-imposed ...more
Feb 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Old review from 2011 below. Although still the weakest tome of the Last Chronicles, a re-read grandly improved it. (~2014)


Uh...where should I even start with this? As much as I love the First and Second Chronicles, this just felt like trying to chew ten meters of sodden carpet and a barrelful of old tires. Granted, the beginning wasn't bad and during the few, final stretches the story gained some of that panache I've learned to expect from Donaldson's works, but...the middle, by all the s
Jul 23, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ok - this stands out against my other Donaldson ratings because this is the most frustrating piece of "agony-read" I've suffered for a long while.

"Agony read" is having to persist with a book to the very end despite it being painfully awful - I have one rule with books: "finish what you start" - and in some cases this has proven worthwhile (eg. I hated the first 50 pages of WEAVEWORLD by CLIVE BARKER, but after that it really kicks off!)

Anyway, this book contains all that was miserable and terri
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Can you accomplish good by doing evil? It’s a conundrum as old as the Adam and Eve narrative and that one clearly answers in the negative. Stephen R. Donaldson takes us back to “the Land” of the original six books of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever and offers us layers of nuance on the question. What if your society needs the stability represented in a commandment (in this case, represented by an artifact known as the Staff of Law) but the only way to re-establish this commandme ...more
Paul Darcy
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Steven R. Donaldson. You either know this author’s works, or you should. And yes I am totally bias. He is second on my list of all time epic fantasy authors, right after only Tolkien himself. So, take this review, if you will, with a pinch of hurtloam.

The Runes Of The Earth is the first book in his “Last” Chronicles of Thomas Covenant which will comprise four volumes when complete. And, though seemingly a slow read, is packed with classic Donaldson wonders, inner turmoil, outer conflict and insi
Branwen Sedai *of the White Ajah*
"No one makes you what you are. You have to choose."

"Good cannot be accomplished by evil means."

It has been ten years since Linden Avery was last in the Land. Ten years since her beloved Thomas Covenant died defending the Land from Lord Foul. Linden has picked up the pieces of her heart and carried on with her life, content with her job as a doctor at a mental hospital and with her adopted son, Jeremiah. But the Land is not quite done with Linden. And when unspeakable evil reaches out its hand a
When it was first published I flicked through and decided to wait until the final volume was published. It seemed slow, repetitive, dull at times...such a contrast to how I eagerly devoured the first series. Now that the last volume is winging its way to me, I have started what now feels like an obligation, not a delight. It is indeed slow, repetitive and mainly dull, but does have flashes of the former brilliance.
What a shame. I still have shivers when I think of the utterance "Nom".
Stephen R. Donaldson's The Tales of Thomas Covenant was my initiation into the world of Fantasy/Science Fiction many years ago when the best-selling six book series was published. Since that time I have enjoyed a number of different books within that genre, and I have Stephen R. Donaldson to thank for it. I was excited a few years ago, when I discovered that Donaldson had decided to write a sequel series - The Last Tales of Thomas Covenant - but as with most books I'd like to read, it takes me a ...more
Jul 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mitchell by: Pleasant Grove Library
Those who have read the first two series may be familiar with the anti-hero Thomas Covenant. He was my favorite protagonist to hate. All through the first 3 books his Unbelief was entirely unacceptable to me. I hated him and loved Donaldson Stephen R. for creating such an absolutely amazing character. One whom I ached to see accept his role and do what he needed to do.

With this book author:Donaldson Stephen R.|426806] has returned to The Land with another cast of characters that are just as rich
Dec 07, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hardcore Thomas Covenant/Stephen Donaldson fans
This book is not total garbage. It's an interesting coda to White Gold Wielder. But it reads like a collection of old ideas and plotlines about the pre-history of the Land that Donaldson decided to cobble together in a time-travel framework. Maybe he needed to pay for an addition to his house? The result is a novel that just doesn't have the life or power of the earlier books. And the prose! Wow. So, so bad. Jump in, Donaldson fans, but it's a tough slog.
In my distant youth, I found the Thomas Covenant books to be quite intense which, combined with my frustration with Covenant and his self-doubt (more than any other characteristics), made for a challenging read. (Well, 6 challenging reads plus, I think, a re-read of the first trilogy.)

I debated long and long (internally, of course) about picking up the new series but backed off, due to the above paragraph, as well as not wanting to get trapped in endless waiting for the subsequent tomes. Then I
Jan 06, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: fantasy
How depressing. Donaldson keeps going downhill in his writing, with ENDLESS interior monologues that are as repetative as anything in Robert Jordan or Terry Goodkind. It's a shame, the first chronicles was really quite original in many ways and though overwritten, never lost site of the compelling storyline. The second series had more of the writing faults so manifest here, but the core concept was pretty interesting and kept me going. This on the other hand took me a year and a half to finish; ...more
Victor T
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Way back in the 80's I discovered Donaldson and Thomas Covenant, unfortunately it was in the initial publication and I had to wait between books to continue the storyline. It was a enjoyable wait. Then I discover that there has come a third trilogy, but as the major character was no more, it continues with an offshoot in the persona of Linden Avery. I detested Linden in the second trilogy, she whined, she moped, she made me truly dislike her.
Now Mr. Donaldson was always a bit of a word whore, ma
Tobin Elliott
This one should be subtitled Arrogance because almost every major character shows it at some point.

As a starting point for the four-book Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, it does its job adequately. We're shown the main characters and taken back to the Land. However, once there, very little happens, and Linden Avery, on at least two or three occasions, reminds us that this big, sprawling book takes place over a few days. Now that most of the characters are met (though I suspect we still need t
Seth Mullins
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this volume of the series when it was released in 2004, and recently revisited it. Few novels have affected me as profoundly as the "Covenant" series, and Donaldson's return to this work filled me with the same wonder that I'd felt after discovering the original trilogy in my teens. Probably what I appreciate most is the way in which The Land so powerfully evokes for me the magic within *our* world. It doesn't feel like escapism to me, but rather an immersion into the undercurrents ...more
Dec 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: donna
Loved it 100% and now need to find Book2 real, real soon.
I love characters that are allowed to make mistakes and where the reader can try and second-guess the character because the process is so expansive. Know-it-all heroes that are whiter than white are boring and horrible to bear. Transporting real (and therefore flawed) people into a strange environment where they have to learn what's happened and make horrible mistakes that come back to bite only much, much later is far preferable to books
Christoffer Lernö
First time I read this book, it was long after reading the first two chronicles.

Unfortunately, that hampered my enjoyment of the book more than I would have expected.

This time around, I read it after rereading the first two, and suddenly I saw it in a different light.

I would definitely recommend this classic to anyone enjoying the first two chronicles.

And make sure you recently read the first chronicles to fully enjoy this one.
Coralie Bourne
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is definitely one of my favorites. Thanks to Rob for recommending it. I loved the anti-hero Thomas and plot. Great character development. A must read series.
Tomi Ocampo
This is a good book
Micah Scelsi
Nov 23, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
It is true that Donaldson uses many big words, often to an extreme. At least if you read the electronic version you can have a dictionary handy! This book doesn't have a "conclusion" unto itself. It is really just a buildup to the next book, similar to some of the author's other series. Nonetheless, it explores some deep and interesting themes.

In general the book is engaging. The author uses the device of the characters recalling events in order to tell the story of the history of the Land. Thu
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a worthy continuation of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Maintaining the profound truth and tough clarity which is Donaldson's chief characteristic as an author and philosopher, this book can break you heart with grief but hold it together with hope and the clarion call to service and integrity.
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intense, thrilling return to the Land. this time Lindon Avery must be it's savior. Oh, and she also must save her disabled son. Mr. Donaldson has still got it! Happy reading! :)
Chris McKelley
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Same themes, slightly different twist, never get tired of his style or this storyline.
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Until the final chapter, I was wavering between 3 and 4 stars for this book. The surprise ending pushed it over the edge and made me eager to read Final Revenant.
Andrea Dowd
Oct 05, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I should have just Thomas Covenant be dead and The Land to itself. This was..not even a little good.
Steve Roach
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Simon Mcleish
Feb 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in August 2005.

For those who have for a long time now been fans of the original Thomas Covenant novels, the announcement of a new chronicle caused a simultaneous quickening of interest and awakening of apprehension. The latter is not so much a fear that the whole series might be ruined by a sub-standard sequel or one which would become an anticlimactic finale. Interest is raised by the high standard of Donaldson's writing, even though this has not stopped him
T.I.M. James
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Over twenty years ago it seemed as though there were not many fantasy books on the bookshop shelves. Mostly it was Science Fiction, but there, alongside Tolkien, were one or two, and some of these were the Thomas Covenant books by Stephen R Donaldson.

A series of two trilogies, The first bracketed under Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever, the second dropped the Unbeliever. They were superb, in some ways having similarities to Tolkien, in others being something new and different, still standing out in
Dec 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant has a special place in my heart when it comes to fantasy literature. It was one of my favorite series that I read in high school. I was enthralled with the anti-hero, trapped in his unbelief, making horrible choices and yet somehow finding his way through to save himself and the Land. After those first three, I had to jump into The Second Chronicles and although they weren’t quite as brilliant as the first series, they were still brilliant and the writing was su ...more
Mathew Bridle
Aug 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Thomas Covenant Chronicles: Runes of the Earth
Book seven in the saga and … it is very different. For a one there is no Thomas Covenant. Instead the dilemma of the white gold is taken up by Linden Avery which was obvious after the last book as Covenant had died in his own world.
10 years later and Linden Avery now has an adopted who was one of the children used to summon Covenant to The Land last time around. Roger Covenant is all grown up and seeking to take control of his stricken mother, Joan.
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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 Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (4 books)
  • Fatal Revenant (The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, #2)
  • Against All Things Ending (The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, #3)
  • The Last Dark (The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, #4 )