Is Thomas Covenant the most frustrating "hero" ever?

steelyglint

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Covenant isn't a 'hero'. He's just the main character. He's pushed, pulled, goaded and forced through the storyline, rarely intending to do anything helpful or brave, instead being coerced, either by other characters, situations or prophecy, into just about every move he makes. All he really wants is to get past what is happening to him and go home. They didn't call him 'The Unbeliever' for nothing.

Two fantasy series occupy the 'Best There Is' spot in my poor opinion, one of them being Covenant's tale, the other a popular trilogy by a chap called Tolkien. Neither is what I'd pick up if I was looking for some easy reading. That's Eddings's job.

Donaldson's most annoying characters live in the two volumes of 'Mordant's Need'.

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farntfar

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I found Covenant much less annoying in the second chronicles, whereas Linden started well and then took over the annoying mantle.
Pitchwife is a joy though, and made up for everything.

As others have said, Covenant's indecision, and inability to commit himself was an absolute necessity of his leprosy. (Donaldson's dad worked with Lepers. Didn't he?)

In the second chrons he has already committed himself in this world to save the child, and can therefore commit himself in the land.

As for the final chrons, i've struggled to the middle of Against all things ending, and given up.

Steely! You're right about Mordants Need though. Much less hard work as books than the others but God! You could strangle them. :)
 

neilithicman

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This, in my opinion is the beauty of Donaldson's writing. It is a refreshing change from other novels where the the main character is thrown into another world and find they have great powers and conquer all. It's gets kind of steriotypical. Covenant can be a bit frustrating at times but to me that is the joy of a refreshingly different style of novel. To have a hero that believes he is dreaming and denies he even has somewhere to save is, to me, a brilliant idea and well worth the read.
 

HanaBi

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I first read this series about 20 years ago. I started reading it again about 1 year ago, as I remember it being very dificult to get through the first time around. I couldn't remember quite why , and that age may have improved things. Second time round, I still found it tough going, and I felt that my struggle to stick with the stoty was on a par with TC's struggle in the books. The second trilogy is worse , as with the introduction of a female character we get the same recriminations and introspection - but now it's doubled.

The thing is though that usually I would walk away and not even bother finishing it, but I stuck with it. By the end of the second trilogy I consider was it worth it? Two individuals continually complaining about how awful they are, both trying to blame themselves more than the other. In fact the same could be said of the vast majority of characters in the books.
Same here: I read the books 20 odd years ago (first 2 chronicles, have yet to read the third), and found myself in a world of depression everytime I read a few pages over a period of time. I wasn't expecting this style of writing, especially after being brought up on the relatively happy-go-lucky Tolkein LOTR books.

It was definitely very hard going keeping motivated and trying to find some empathy for TC; but everytime I put the book down, I didn't have the inclination to pick it up again for quite some time. Which probably explains why it took me over a year to read the first Chronicles, followed by a further 2 year gap before moving onto the 2nd Chronicles.

I really can't recall how I felt after completing the 2nd Chronicles - which is worrying. But at least I stuck with it, rather than just giving up and throwing the books out to the local charity shop.

And so now, some 20 odd years on, I will try to revisit the 1st Chronicles once more. At least I will be more prepared handling the continued pessimism/negativity (quite rightly given his condition) of TC this time round. It is certainly no LOTR, with it's relatively happy "Hollywood" style characters & conclusions; and now that I am aware of this, I will be more sympathetic when I finally do turn to Page 1 once again.
 

BAYLOR

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You get sick of his whole suffering martyr hero routine after the second book. He's aggravating and infuriating.
 

steelyglint

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I suppose one man's chore is another man's dream job.

On my first assault of the Covenant books I couldn't get enough. I was a biker at the time and recall regularly making it home, a four mile trip, inside of five minutes. It could have been that a few hundred pages of disease and depression struck me as supremely desireable in view of the fact that I'd just finished an eight-hour shift running six double-sided ring-spinning frames, under a constant 93 decibels and 72 degrees Fahrenheit, in a delightful category Z prison (no criminal offences required, they pay you and let you go home at shift's end, but they do expect your voluntary return the next day for more punishment) called Arrow Mill.

Alternatively, I lived on a diet of cheap horror novels, Liberty Cap coffee, and curries at the time, so Donaldson probably saved my sanity. The images I constructed from his descriptions of the caverns under Mount Thunder, Andelain, Revelstone, Seareach, basically everywhere he led me, are still all there every time I go back into the books. I think my meeting with the Covenant Chronicles was one of the incredibly few examples of perfect timing that I could lay claim to over the last half-century or more.

I still eat curries, though.

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Scookey

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Personally I loved the Thomas Covenant books and read them all several times. Was a teenager at the time, several moons ago, but grabbed the latest off the shelf when it was released. Sure, Thomas was a bit teerful and down at times but to me that was one of the strengths of the story. A hugely reluctant but hugely powerful anti-hero. Brilliant!
 
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