Lord Foul’s Bane (Stephen Donaldson) 1*

I’m always baffled by bad books.  Shouldn’t someone have stopped this train wreck before it hit the bestseller lists?  First, there’s no apparent objective as anti-hero Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever makes his cretinous way across a Tolkien-in-a-blender landscape.  The central conflict is some muddled conglomeration of “I wish people would treat me like a human being” and “I can’t be a hero; I’m a leper.”  When the Bambi-like people of the Land ask, “What’s a leper?”, Tom the Whiner jumps up and down and says, “I’m a leper!  Can’t you see I’m a leper!  People in the real world shun me because I’m a leper!  Leper!  Leper!”

Besides the fundamental inanity of this story, Thomas forgot how to laugh years ago, and Donaldson shares the affliction.  I skip-skimmed most of the book to see where it goes, then realized I don’t give a damn.  The writing’s sort of gray and pulpy, perhaps an artful reflection of Tom the Whiner’s leprous flesh.  As a bonus, the prose is all crusted over with gratuitous flaunting of vocabulary.  Ugh.


4 responses to “Lord Foul’s Bane (Stephen Donaldson) 1*

  1. Yup
    I read this book mostly because my roommate had it and I was bored. Lame, irritating and yech. The worst part is, this is the first of a long series, five or six books if I remember right. And they don’t get any better. Just reread LOTR.

    • Re: Yup
      Since you can’t hit me from across 8348 miles, I’m going to say that I don’t like LOTR. I started the first book 3 times before I finally finished. I mean, all they do is walk. Walk, walk, duck, walk, Nazgul!, walk, walk, walk… I respect that Tolkien’s worldbuilding is foundational to modern fantasy, but the books themselves are just walk-walk-walk.
      I’m looking forward to re-reading The Mists of Avalon, which I haven’t read since high school.
      Generally speaking, I think there is more good SF out there than good fantasy, or at least fantasy of the Tolkien type. It’s hard not to be derivative when Tolkien and so many others have already done it.

      • Re: Yup
        AP: Researchers at the Brooklyn University of Telegraphic Technology announced today that they were nearing completion of an electronic “dope slap” that can be sent as an attachment via email. A spokesmen stated that the file, characterized by the extension .dslp, used electronic and magnetic fields in the target computer to deliver a concussive airburst laterally to the “upside” of the subjects head.
        So don’t think it’s not possible. 1. As far as LOTR, Fellowship starts slow. I admit. But to me, if you get to Rivendell, it starts to pay off. Be honest- did you finish the first book? 2. SF has a lot more “room” in it, being speculative. Fantasy, IMO suffers from not only being dependent on a limited set of history and mythology for models, but also stands in the shadow of LOTR. Which you apparently haven’t read. BTW, have you read any Stephen Brust. If not, do, and start with Jhereg.

      • Re: Yup
        On close reading my post says, “I started the first book 3 times before I finally finished,” thereby adroitly conveying that I did in fact finish.
        I respect the worldbuilding, but The Hobbit was a better story as stories go.
        I really like George R.R. Martin, which does medieval times (dragons, undead, etc.) in a non-Tolkien-derivative way.

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