Feb 03 2009

Review: White Gold Wielder, by Stephen R. Donaldson

Transported out of all restraint, Linden turned at last to Mhoram.

“And you,” she said, quiet as venom.  “You.  They called you ‘seer and oracle.’  That’s what I’ve heard.  Everytime I turn around, he tells me he wishes you were with him.  He values you more than anyone.”  Her anger and grief were one, and she could not contain them.  Fury that Covenant had been so misled; tearing rue that he trusted her too little to share his burdens, that he preferred despair and destruction to any love or companionship which might ease his responsibilities.  “You should have told him the truth.”

The Dead High Lord’s eyes shone with silver tears—yet he did not falter or vanish.  The regret he emitted was not for himself: it was for her.  And perhaps also for Covenant.  An aching smile twisted his mouth.  “Linden Avery”—he made her name sound curiously rough and gentle—”you gladden me.  You are worthy of him.  Never doubt that you may justly stand with him in the trial of all things.  You have given sorrow to the Dead.  But when they have bethought themselves of who you are, they will be likewise gladdened.  Only this I urge of you: strive to remember that he is also worthy of you.”

Formally, he touched his palms to his forehead, then spread his arms wide in a bow that seemed to bare his heart.  “My friends!” he said in a voice that rang, “I believe that you will prevail!”

Still bowing, he dissolved into the rain and was gone.

Rating: ★★★★★

Finally, my review of the last book of the second Covenant series.  When I first read it twenty years ago, I was sure it was the last book, period, because the ending is very final.  Surprise surprise, it turns out that when Donaldson wrote it, he already had the Last Chronicles planned out to follow.  Those are only half-finished though, and the last book won’t come out until 2013, so this will be the end of my Covenant reviews for now.

This book parallels the ending of the first season in some ways, but it’s also very different.  Covenant reaches a point again where he knows he has to face Foul, but instead of needing a way to trigger his venom-enhanced power, this time he needs to keep Foul from forcing him to use it.  The Haruchai reach a crisis of faith in themselves much as the Bloodguard did in the first series, but they’re able to find a different (if not better) answer this time.  The Giants are as strong and loyal as ever, but their choices aren’t as simple as Foamfollower’s were.

Just when Linden is beginning to make peace with her own power, she discovers that Covenant means to face Foul essentially unarmed.  Without his power he can do nothing but surrender, which is the one sin she never forgave in her parents and can’t accept in him.  Yet her health-sense tells her he doesn’t have a surrendering bone in his body, so he becomes an enigma to her.  She can see his sanity and confidence and the strength of his resolve, but she can’t imagine how those things can exist without power to back them up, which leads to the scene I quoted above.

I really love this last book; it does a great job of tying up all the threads from this series and even some ideas from the first one.  The scale of this series is bigger, and so are the stakes, and the characters expand to meet the demand.  Linden is an amazing character; possibly my favorite female character of all the books I’ve read.  Many male authors aren’t very good at writing women, but Donaldson attributes his success in that area to being the only boy in a family full of sisters.

In his interviews, Donaldson says one of his main goals in any story is to give all the characters their own dignity.  In other words, whoever the character is, whether he’s a main character or a bit part, good or evil or indifferent, he should always act true to himself.  In so many books, even the main character is a cipher or a stereotype, and the other characters are little more than window dressing.  Every character, even the evil or crazy ones, should think his actions make sense.  All Donaldson’s characters, though they’re often desperately flawed or broken people, are true to their own perspectives.  In this book, so many of them carry that dignity to completion—for good or ill, each one finds a resolution to his own hurts and failings.  It’s emotionally draining, but if you’re someone who was able to really get immersed in the story, it’s a true experience.

Well, I think that’s enough gushing from me.  I hope people have enjoyed it, and that I’ve encouraged a few to give the books a try sometime.  I’m not sure what I’ll review next.  Any suggestions of genre?  I’ve got a little of everything.

If you enjoyed this article, why not rate it and share it with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, or StumbleUpon?

GD Star Rating

WordPress Themes