On to book 2 of The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. (See my review of book 1, The Runes of the Earth.)
I mentioned that the actual events in the first book are relatively few, with more verbiage devoted to the characters’ thinking and talking and feeling about the events than the events themselves. In the second book the pace of action picks up significantly. This is not to say the introspection isn’t still a large part of the writing; it is, but not as overwhelmingly so.
The first book ended with the first physical appearance of Thomas Covenant, in the company of Linden Avery’s adopted son Jeremiah— or did it? The one claims to be Covenant, he looks like Covenant, but if he is Covenant he’s changed a great deal. Then again, being dead and becoming an integral part of the Arch of Time for a few millennia might be expected to have an effect on one’s personality. And the other claims to be Jeremiah, and looks like Jeremiah, but in this world is completely cured of his silent withdrawal. With them, bearing the Staff of Law and Covenant’s white gold ring, Linden embarks on a journey which, Covenant says, will enable him to put things right.
It is, of course, a trap.
Somehow making it out alive, and returning to Revelstone with some unexpected help, Linden determines to undertake the one action she can think of that will enable her to save her son: She intends to go to Andelain, home of the Dead, to obtain the weapon known as Loren’s krill with which she hopes to be able to combine the power of the Staff of Law with the wild magic of the white gold ring. She sets out with the old madman Anele, the stonedowner Liand, three Ramen, and four haruchai, and soon finds herself and her party attacked by one after another of her adversaries. In the end she does reach Andelain and finds the krill, and the second book ends with the first physical appearance of Thomas Covenant — or does it?
The somewhat more active plot here is welcome, and the character development continues well. On the other hand, there is some structural awkwardness to the whole thing. A character called The Harrow, for instance, seemingly pops up out of nowhere and for no evident reason other than that Donaldson seems to have decided Linden didn’t have enough problems to deal with. I get the feeling Donaldson has a pivotal part for the Harrow in mind, but so far he seems more an ad hoc additional bad guy.
Thus far, the series is not a particularly compelling read. But I’m sufficiently interested to push on to book 3, Against All Things Ending.