The One Tree
By Stephen Donaldson
We last saw Thomas Covenant and Linden Avery getting ready to set sail with the Giants and embark upon the quest to find the fabled One Tree; the force that can remake the staff of law and free the land and people from the evil influence it has become infected by.
One Tree rejoins these brave souls as they set sail on the giant's ship crossing the ocean to look for the island that hosts this legendary tree and once again have a weapon to fight Lord Foul and his multitude of minions.
I must admit that I was a bit disappointed with this book, it seems to have lost it's edge somehow while the authors prose doesn't sparkle as it did in the previous novels. It's like the author suddenly found a host of new words he wanted to use in the story and spent more time thinking of ways to fit them in than he did on the actual story itself. The result is writing that doesn't flow at all, its very unwieldy and makes reading the book very hard going. I could understand if this was the authors first ever book but its the second book in the second trilogy and changing the voice, the style so completely is both jarring and a bit of a let-down.
Much of the book is narrated from the perspective of Linden Avery, who we were introduced to in The Wounded Land and who doesn't seem as strong a character as Covenant. I did originally think that she made a great counter-point, after all you can only endure so much about Covenants affliction before getting annoyed and it made a great contrast - a way of re-examining the issue of long term illness while also highlighting the fact that not all illnesses are physical. But in the One Tree its like having to endure BOTH afflictions which don't compliment each other at all, at times feeling like a contest over who is suffering more. Avery comes across as a much weaker character; a complainer rather than a victim and when added to the difficult to read prose doesn't enamor the reader at all.
The story itself also seems to drag on a great deal, even when not finding new previously unknown words to use the author seems intent on over-flowering every description to the extent that it feels almost like a different author than the previous novels. Due to this extended narrative structure and dogged pace it feels like nothing really happens except for Avery getting angry with herself and Covenant largely absent until the very end. The whole story is essentially one single sea journey on a ship, something that should have taken a chapter rather than a whole book. I do understand the author's attempts to use this journey to explore the facet's of Avery's condition but as mentioned above it simply doesn't work.
The ending itself is the one saving grace of the book and fits perfectly with the series, I loved what the author did there and it almost makes the previous 400 pages worth reading for alone. If it wasn't for the fact that I have a desire to read and review the whole multi-series story then I would have given up long before the end and missed the ending anyway. I just hope that the books get better from here.
Written on 11th June 2013 by Ant .