Lord Fouls Bane is the first volume in the The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever, written by Stephen Donaldson.
Thomas Covenant was a very successful author before being diagnosed with leprosy, the wasting disease that causes fear, revulsion and even hatred in other people. Fearing for their son's health, his wife leaves him and he has to learn to live with the fact that his life is changed forever.
He is taught to live without hope, as leprosy is incurrable, and to expect his body to deteriate unless he follows a very strict regime. Having already lost his thumb and two fingers of his right hand, most of his nerve endings have died. He must constantly check himself for injuries and beware of any sharp corners or surfaces that may cause injury.
After walking into the local town, he is hit by a police car and wakes in a strange alternate world where magic appears to be real and a strange creature threatens. After being confronted by a powerful being known as Lord Foul he is tasked with giving a message to the Lords of the land. As he journeys to the Lords he eventually learns that his white gold wedding ring gives him a wild magical power and makes him a powerful figure.
All is not well in the land however, the creature he met on arrival (Drool) has found a most powerful magical artifact in the shape of a staff, with the assistance of the dread Lord Foul. Thomas must confront Drool and reclaim the staff before the land is plunged into chaos.
This is a remarkable novel, reading it now you may be forgiven for thinking it borrows from other fantasy series, until you realise this book was written in 1977, before those other series existed. Stephen Donaldson has created a unique, rich and detailed world around which he has woven an incredible story. Thomas Covenant is a highly detailed, realistic and tortured soul dealing with a seemingly hopeless illness that is both arduous and demeaning.
By creating an almost anti-hero, someone who is far from perfect and dealing with a tortured existance creates a truly unique series which really is on a par with Tolkien, sadly not given the credit it truly deserves.
Written on 17th September 2009 by Ant.
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