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.