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The Gap Into Conflict

Posted by Rick · September 9th, 2003 · 1 Comment

No, despite the title, this isn’t another post about living under the Bush Regime.

During this “breather” in the substantive writing, I’ve mostly been occupied with reading cases for school. The life of a law student allows little in the way of spare time. What other spare time there has been has been spent re-stocking the mental pond with fish of a different color.

Lately, I’m reading (too many) books, such as those listed under “Current Reading” on the main page. One is the first book in a (new to me) series by one of my favorite writers, Stephen R. Donaldson.

Donaldson’s two trilogies Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever and Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever rank just above J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy The Lord of the Rings. (Yes, above; see below [full post] for how to get these so you can see for yourself.) So when I spotted The Gap Into Conflict as part one of (again, to me) a new trilogy, I was pretty excited. And since all work and no play makes your unspun hero a dull boy, I immediately bought it.

Imagine my irrefrangible disappointment when I realized that this book does not roil with elvish battles or Brobdingnagian giants or hail-fellow-well-roasted firedrakes. It’s a stupid space story. (And in mien—sad to say—not a very good one at that.)

I’ve seldom encountered good fantasy fiction—certainly nothing in the class of Donaldson’s aforementioned Chronicles or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. And I’m not much of a fan of “space fiction.” So this disappointment was all the more deeply felt as to the content.

It’s as if after Covenant Donaldson’s new book said to me, “Fifteen years I’ve rotted in the darkness. Waited. Not to kill you. To kill your soul. Slowly.” [Dr. Vitus Werdegast (Bela Lugosi: 1934), The Black Cat, confronting his traitorous former commander.]

Even more dispiriting, Donaldson’s redoubtable sesquipedalianism has fallen victim to desuetude. The longest, most interesting word in the book is probably “Thermopyle,” which is the name of the ignorant, unlovable, misbegotten, pusillanimous cuss (a extremely faded shadow of Covenant?) around which the story appears to center.

I say “appears” because I finally became too disappointed to continue reading about half-way through. It’s possible things will change.

After all, that’s what happened with Thomas Covenant, too. The (first) Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever were fresh and exciting. Since Tolkien, I’d not seen anything like it and here (so I came to feel) this was even better! Then, by about the third book of the (first) Chronicles and through to about the second book of The Second Chronicles you’re literally screaming with hatred at Covenant’s recalcitrant intractability—yes, it was so strong you have to be redundant in describing it—in refusing to participate in the world where he—notwithstanding his unbelief—was found. As irritating as this was, it wasn’t diuturnal; Covenant finally overcame his selcouth crassitude and his superposited, imbricated, operculous heart, shook off the chasuble of recusancy and, becoming a part of the world, saved it. I promptly forgot how much I’d hated him and wanted only to read more.

Hmmm…is there such a thing as ephemeral irrefrangibility? I just talked myself into going back to see what happens next to Angus Thermopyle…

Meanwhile, Buy a Book!

Categories: Books & Book Reviews


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Wax // Mar 31, 2004 at 4:55 pm

    I thought that the first book in the gap series was crappy too, but it ramps up in subsequent books as they reveal more and more about the individual characters and the initial circumstances about which the first story revolves. Thermopyle evolves becomes a antihero which makes him more interesting too.
    Read on I say -did you really think Donaldson would write a crap series after the Convnant Chrno?

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