Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Review: The Illearth War

The Illearth War by Stephen Donaldson
Pages: 471, paperback

ISBN: 9780904002485

Publisher: Fontana Books

Date Released: October, 1980 (first published in 1977)

Genre: High fantasy

Source: borrowed

Returning to the Land, after forty years of its time, Thomas Convenant finds the powers of evil, under Lord Foul the Despiser, fully unleashed and assumes the responsibility of finding a way to defeat Lord Foul. (Taken from Goodreads)

So, I'm sure that you guys can all remember the not-so friendly review I posted about the first book. Yeah, I really didn't like the first book. But this, surprisingly, really grew on me. I even found myself craving this book at the times where I couldn't afford to spend time reading. I was literally in love with this book. LOVE. As in, one of my favourites. Seriously.

Firstly, I'd like to comment on the writing. The prose was clear and yet deliciously descriptive. I could visualise everything perfectly, and then some. I felt myself drawn to every moment. It had the same complex qualities as in the first book, with the occasional overused big word, and he still encorporated some of that good ol' purple prose, but there was certainly a minimsed amount that made me sigh with satisfaction. I was also glad to find that the copious amounts of 'songs' that were present in the first book were toned down, with only a handful appearing within these pages. No offence to the guy or anything, but a career as a poet wouldn't work for him.

One of my main issues with the first book was how the main character, Thomas Covenant was incredibly whiny. To the point where I could barely go on. To the point where I wished that his leprosy would just eat him up already. I wanted him to die. I suppose that was the idea, though, to make him an anti-hero, but jeez, no need to make him emo.
But in this book, he toned down the emo whiny-ness. He hardly ever complained, and saved me from countless groans. I suppose a reason why I wasn't so annoyed with him this time was because about a third of the book follows another character. This character is afflicted with an ailment, too; he was born with no eyes. I don't know what it is about characters that are mentally or physically broken (such as Eon from the book Eon by Alison Goodman), but I just LOVE them. The change of pace that this change in point of view created was a relief. The part of the story from Hile Troy's perspective was eerily amazing. Because of the magic of the Land, when he arrived, he found that he could see, despite the lack of eyes. When he later loses that sight, we are able to see Covenant's anguish, we are able to see from Troy's perspective why Covenant refuses to acknowledge and accept the existance of such a land. More interesting, we see that Hile Troy, despite turning back into the blind man he was before he came to the land, he doesn't turn into a bitter 'Unbeliever', like Covenant is. This massive contrast shows what I love most about this novel.

The plot was consistant as it followed the separate paths of Hile Troy and Thomas Covenant in their adventures, and it was accurately measured in days (so, you know that Donaldson was paying attention and thinking hard when he wrote this). We would b told the amount of days that had passed, and it sort of just amazed me at how much work it must have taken to make sure that there were no innaccuracies in the separate plot lines.
I loved the aspect of the war, and the massacre of the giants brought me to tears. If you're grossed out by things, then skip this paragraph. Okay, here goes: The giants were killed by having some evil being sliding his hand into their head (like a ghost would) and then clenching his fist to make their heads explode. Like, KABOOM! with blood splatter everywhere. It disturbed me quite a bit, but the way it added to the story, and the way it moved me and literally almost made me cry (okay, so maybe I cried just a teeny bit), I found that to be a sure-fire win for this book. Any book that can make me cry is a good book, I think.

Anyways, this is a book that kept me up for hours past my bed time. I was that intrigues and engrossed with it. I think it's worth reading the trashy first book to read this (okay, maybe I'm being harsh on the first book, but still...). Also, this bok is so full of surprises. I found myself swearing on the bus because I am bad with surprises, and this kind of broke me with the amount of surprises it held.
Worth a read, and a good second book for a massive epic series of a million books.

Cover Art: 3
Plot: 4
Characters: 4
Writing: 4
Level of Interest: 5

Total Rating 4/5 stars

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