With Fatal Revenant the Second Book of the Final Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson, the highly praised Chronicles of Thomas Covenant approaches the next to last book of the series, if Stephen R. Donaldson can be taken at his word, which one presumes he can be. By now the pattern of the series is fairly well established but the fantasy quotient has fallen fairly low, if the first set of the three chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever resembled traditional fantasy in setting if not in its finite examination of psychological motivation, the second increasingly departed from that setting and by these final chronicles, the series is more Wagnerian, overwrought and divorced from the usual Post-Tolkienian fantasy than ever.
Linden Avery is technically no more annoying than Thomas Covenant himself was but her self-destructive impulses are not attenuated by anything and by placing her at the center of two novels, Stephen R. Donaldson has produced two basically mediocre novels. But it is repetition that is the Final Chronicles of Thomas Covenant’s greatest curse, because much of this has been done before. The mysterious powerful beings, the trap of power, the unexpected appearance of the giants, the madness of grief and the harm done to the land are all standbys of the series by now and they have grown faded with repeated reuse.
Fatal Revenant is a title that is itself a spoiler, despite the red herring of Covenant’s supposed return at the beginning of The Runes of the Earth, and that is part of the problem, but far from the only one. Much of the traditional fantasy setting has been pushed to the background and while Linden’s excursion to the past, Corriel Wildwood, Woodhelvin and the encounter with the Giants and finally the Wraiths help restore it, it’s too thin a gruel. Fatal Revenant has the stretch marks of a long series that has run out of content and has long since begun repeating itself. Linden Avery was supposed to provide some originality for the Cecond Chronicles of Thomas Convenant but by now she herself is a cliche and unlike Covenant himself, a tedious one.