Lord Foul's Bane

Lord Foul's Bane  - Stephen R. Donaldson

This book is problematic. It's one of those books that has some great elements that you really want to celebrate. Like fantastic world-building and creative uses of magic. It was clearly written as an answer to The Lord of the Rings, challenging fans of that series to imagine a more flawed hero. Great ideas all around.


And then there's Covenant himself. It's not that he does terrible things, and he often does. And it's not even that he's kind of a wimp. I actually liked that. I liked the idea that a fish out of water is not going to go around swinging swords like a pro or even be that brave. I'll tell you what did truly make me hate him. He's one of those guys that will say the worst thing at the absolute worst time. Maybe this is a weird reason to hate a character, but just when I thought I was starting to understand him, starting to empathize, he'd turn around on someone and say something so thoughtless, something they had every right to skewer him over, and then just shrug and act affronted when they got offended. So... he's not just an anti-hero. He's an IRRITATING anti-hero.


Also, I'd like to address the fact that this challenging-the-Lord-of-the-Rings idea is great but flawed. Firstly because it's so derivative of Tolkien that it's painfully noticeable. And secondly because... Let me break it down for you: Imagine if Frodo raped Rosie Cotton. But Sam couldn't get revenge, because Frodo is THE CHOSEN ONE. So Sam is forced to carry a whining, pissy, angry, offensive Frodo everywhere, knowing he harmed Rosie beyond all repair and unable to do a thing about it. And Frodo doesn't even feel bad about it. In fact, HE acts like a victim. I basically just summed up what I consider to be a very faulty part of this book's story. A lot of stories employ rape for a lot of different reasons. I think in this particular case, it was so ill-handled that it killed my ability to enjoy the majority of the book.


One thing this book does have over LOTR is character development. The problem here being that all the development is with Covenant, not any of the other characters. People I wanted to know more about, like Prothall and Mhoram, we're left mostly in the dark about aside a few tidbits from Covenant's perspective. Give me a book with more Mhoram, who was kind of the genius in a group of people carrying the idiot ball. Then we'll talk.