White Gold Wielder is the last book in the second of Stephen Donaldson's trilogies about the Leper Thomas Covenant and his journeys to the parallel reality known as "The Land". Regular visitors to the site may recall that I didn't think that much of the previous volume - "The One Tree" and I almost gave up on reading Donaldson's work as a result.
Thankfully White Gold Wielder is pretty much a return to form with a more stable, faster pace and much more going on than the previous book (which to be fair wouldn't have been difficult). Covenant gets a lot more time too and all the major characters go through some very effective development as the book progresses.
One of the clever bits of the book is the way it starts of very dark and depressing, following the stark ending of "The One Tree" and yet as the story unfolds there is a much more positive, resolute feeling - in part from Covenants simple acceptance but also the indomitable spirit the group commands. As such, despite everything seeming to be pretty much doomed the characters do hardly any complaining at all (which is about time, you can only take so much complaining). Another nice touch is that even though we are now six books in to this epic series, there is still some doubt over "The Land" being reality or just a dream.
I love how the series and this book in particular is at odds with most fantasy novels, while danger is ever present the use of violence to overcome the enemy is largely underplayed - highly refreshing. This extends to the grand finale too which manages to do justice to the story in a very memorable fashion.
Some of the language still seems a little ropey in places however this is highly infrequent and doesn't get in the way of the story overmuch. The pace does stall on the odd occasion but again this doesn't happen often or for long.
White Gold Wielder is worth picking up and somewhat compensates for The One Tree. I'd urge anyone thinking of reading the series to do so. I'm very glad that I didn't give up reading and after finishing White Gold Reader I am quite eager to see where the author takes the series next.
Written on Friday 27th December 2013 by Antony.
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