January 3, 2008

Here I am.

This is me trying to write again. It’s funny, really: when the work system censors killed off the ability for me to edit my Livejournal account, I went into a decline as far as posting anywhere, anything on the Internet. I wasn’t using it terribly much but still, it was galling to be arbitrarily lumped in with the 0.01% of the population who, because of their own peculiar tastes and mentalities, fill the web with crap or make it a legal minefield to browse.

Anyway, here I am, all on my lonesome. Actually managed to write something there: amazing

So. Currently reading:

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever. Which have been around forever — the First Chronicles were written in the ’70s, I believe — and yet I never got around to them. Not really a big fantasy reader generally; more sci-fi or horror or just plain uncategorizable (Carlton Mellick III, anyone?).

These are big books. The First and Second Chronicles are omnibus editions, 1200+ pages each. The Runes of the Earth and Fatal Revenant clock in at 550 or so apiece, part of what’s termed The Last Chronicles, a purported four-book set. Tetraology? Quadrilogy? What’s the word?

And I’m really enjoying them. To the point that the three-year wait for the culmination of the Last Chronicles will be a nervous one, especially since Stephen Donaldson isn’t the youngest author in the world.

Erm. This reviewing thing is awkward, having not done it for so long. Right. The protagonist, Thomas Covenant, is a leper, of all things. He’s drawn by circumstances into a semi-Lord Of The Rings-esque ‘Land’ wherein his white gold wedding ring has the ability to command wild magic, even if he doesn’t know how to use it. The Land is in peril throughout the Chronicles from an immortal, god-like being called The Despiser, or Lord Foul, who needs Covenant’s wild magic to break free of the world, coincidentally destroying what was in part created as its prison in the first place.

There aren’t any dwarves in the Chronicles. Which is a good thing. I’ve always considered dwarves fairly crap. They’re short. They can’t run very fast. They may be ‘stocky’ and ‘powerful’ and ‘able to swing mighty war hammers with fain ease’, but I’d imagine against some kind of cavalry charge these qualities wouldn’t be very useful. Far better to have monstrous demons as the stocky, mining types — which we do here.

There aren’t any elves either; at least none with pointed ears. How sad. There are Elohim, which are one of the more original fantasy creatures I’ve come across, and technically they could be an elvish analogue, except they’re so much more. The scene set on their island home has to be read to be believed; I suppose if you’re a Tolkein fan it would be a kind of post-singularity Grey Havens or, more simply, what would it be like to come across something that has dropped any semblance of humanity entirely? Stunning, that’s what…

There are all sorts of other things, though. Haruchai. Snow demons. Niroc. The Worm. Viles and ur-viles. Giants. Immense epic battles, including one where the enemy raise an inexhaustiable army of the dead made of sand. All the gore that Tolkein left out. Happy fun!

In short, intensely recommended. Quite hard-hitting too, with some fairly awkward themes covered unflinchingly — and utterly satisfying climaxes to the major arcs (it’s always irritating when a book meanders out of steam, and the Chronicles certainly never do that).

Enough waffling. This being the first post, better see if it works. More later-ish.


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