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A Failure to Progress
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:06 am    Post subject: A Failure to Progress Reply with quote

So I'm late to the party, but here are my reasons The Last Dark, in particular the ending, was a bitter disappointment to me.

There was no progress.

Here's Thomas Covenant at the end of the Second Chronicles:

Quote:
We aren't enemies. That's just another lie. Maybe you believe it, but it's still a lie. You should see yourself. You're even starting to look like me...You're just another part of me. Just one side of what it means to be human. The side that hates lepers. The poisonous side...we are one.


Which you may recognise as the exact insight that allows him to merge with Foul at the end of The Last Dark. Which means that across three thousand years of demigod-hood, or perhaps an eternity given that he was Time itself, followed by a few days on intense mortality, Covenant did not grow as a character at all. There is no reason he could not have done what he did in The Last Dark, back at the end of White Gold Wielder. Oh, perhaps there are practical reasons- perhaps it required a use of power that he was unwilling or unable to use back then. But if that's the case, there's no real development given to him to show why he's able to do it now. He just knows that he and Foul are two sides of the same coin, then just...gobbles him up.

When you look at the other two Chronicles, there's a huge amount of thematic and character tension that builds up to the climax of Covenant's arc. Hell, I don't think it's much of a stretch to say those feats of characterisation are why we love the series so much- I know it's why I do. In the Last Chrons, there's no real conflict within Covenant. He needs to trust Linden despite what she's done in bringing him back...so he trusts Linden. He needs to forswear his vow never to use power again...so he uses power again. He needs to become one with Foul...so he gobbles him up.

Now, you could argue that Linden is actually the main character of The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Misnamed as this would make the series, it makes a lot of narrative sense. From the beginning all the defining conflicts are hers. And until the very end, I was really enjoying her character arc. Her fierce and reckless determination to find her son at any cost, being confronted at every turn by those very costs of her actions, steadily growing more and more powerful and more and more broken...it was really great stuff. Until the end. When the climax of her arc was to...accept a monstrous bane, which in past books has held existential terror for her, into her soul, thus understanding its true nature and dispelling it's threat.

What the Hell? So SWMNBN turns into Sunbane 2.0? Yes, obviously they are very different threats, but the resolution of their personal threat to Linden was almost exactly the same. She confronts her terror, takes the pain onto herself, and heals it. This ending for her was even worse than Covenant's. The Last Chronicles were her story, after all, so having Covenant going through no real character development would have been forgivable if she'd been given an arc to rival her previous one. And right up until the end, that's what I thought was happening. Then her climax from the Second Chronicles is pasted on to her story for the Last. Which, while it resolved the plot neatly enough, thematically made no goddamn sense. What about all that "good cannot be achieved by evil means?" The defining conflict of her character arc in the Last Chrons, that series' mantra in the way that "none of this is real" was the mantra of the First, and "never give him the ring" was the mantra of the Second? Did anyone feel that was resolved in the way those first two were? Covenant finds that it doesn't matter if the Land is real, it matters that it's beautiful. Then he realises that power isn't necessary, that surrender isn't necessarily defeat. When it comes to the Last Chronicles Linden spends three books struggling with power and morality, with the cost of extreme actions, with the use of evil means to try to achieve good, then...does what she did last time. It's even more of a betrayal to see all those thematic threads simply abandoned.

So we have two main characters whom I have loved and loathed, after everything doing pretty much what they did last time. The notable exception is of course the Haruchai, who were my favourite thing about the Last Chronicles, and Stave, who is my favourite character from this series. That was a satisfying tying together of theme and characterisation into a climax. Even the bitter end of the Humbled called to mind the tragedy of Cail returning to the meerwives; all broken men, unable to forgive themselves enough to change their nature. But I wasn't reading for the Haruchai.

Sad [/quote]
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good post, one that echos many of my (and others) own thoughts about the end of TLD.

That's an interesting quote to find from WGW. I never thought of that. But you're right. And it is disappointing that we didn't see much "change" in TC over 3000 years. I guess SRD's main goal was to finish up a concept (TC = Lord Foul) that he started in the 2nd Chronicles but never finished.

And I completely agree about Linden. I had the same exact thought, one I ranted about in my own TLD reading thread. Here we are, having to read what is essentially the Chronicles of Linden Avery, and her part of the ending was essentially 3rd billing to TC and Jerry. Heck, even though I'm a THOOLAH founder, I still found Linden's arc through the Last Chronicles interesting, for reasons you stated. (Even though I could have used less whining, brooding, and metaphors about race cars and grass stains.) But it was a huge letdown to have her conclusion involving whatever the heck happened between her and She. Like you said, it didn't make any sense.

And I agree that the Haruchai were the stars of the show. Branl and Clyme killing the raver was the most powerful moment of the series.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 01, 2014 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

..How unfortunate that,,as SRD said himself when confronted with the issue of repetition,,there are different types of despair and different degrees of despair. .
.TC and Linden got married..thats not progress? thats not a major step forward ..on any level you care to look at it? ..Sorry , true, not everything was handed to the reader on a silver platter. Yes, much of TLD required some thought and openness by the reader. If you don't like riddles, mysteries, metaphors , etc etc, then , yes, perhaps TCoTC is not a match for you. There is a progression of Love and Hope in TLD that one has to be open to ,to see it I suppose.

And, Sorry,,but the haruchai were clearly shown to be heavily flawed early on in the LC and very dramatically shown to be choice challenged , emotionally crippled characters as called out by Brinn and demonstrated by Branl's take out of Clave and even Stave's punch out of Linden. But i suppose if you are a hater, reading of Linden getting punched out would make Stave a Star. ..

I think TLD is the BEST Donaldson Art Work yet, and as a whole, TCoTC has nudged out the Gap series as my favorite. There is a maturity of craftwork that shows in the LC and culminates in TLD.. In the Gap series, Donaldson took us to outer space to find our humanity. In the Last Chrons, he took us to Infinity to find our humanity. SRD said he wanted to take Fantasy out of the " genre'" mode and make it Art. IMHO, SRD has been quite successful achieving that goal with TCoTC.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lurch wrote:
.TC and Linden got married..thats not progress? thats not a major step forward ..on any level you care to look at it?


Yes, that's an example of progress. And it was nice to see. But it wasn't a resolution of the conflicts and themes of the series. There was, perhaps a little subplot of AATE which dealt with Linden and Covenant being in their own little emotional bubbles, talking past each other. I guess their reunification and marriage is the resolution of that. But even that felt like a re-tread to me. What happened to those two in White Gold Wielder, if not that they learned to trust and love each other unconditionally, even if they couldn't understand what the other was going through? And that was a resolution that tied directly to the climax of the series- just as Covenant had to surrender the ring, let go of power and violence to achieve a true victory, Linden had to forsake her desire for control over his choices, her desire to prevent death and her horror of suicide. What did they learn about each other during AATE and TLD that they didn't learn then?

lurch wrote:
..Sorry , true, not everything was handed to the reader on a silver platter. Yes, much of TLD required some thought and openness by the reader. If you don't like riddles, mysteries, metaphors , etc etc, then , yes, perhaps TCoTC is not a match for you. There is a progression of Love and Hope in TLD that one has to be open to ,to see it I suppose.


This is very personal, lurch. You're stating that because I don't see what you see in TLD, that I and less thoughtful or open than yourself. While this may be self-evident to you- hell, it's possible you may even be right- you're more likely to convince myself of it by specifically addressing my arguments, or putting your own counter-arguments forward. "I found the themes and narrative did have an inherent progression, and here's why," rather than "you're obviously not putting enough thought in to see what I see." I won't be responding to this kind of discourse in future, other than to call you out on it.

lurch wrote:
And, Sorry,,but the haruchai were clearly shown to be heavily flawed early on in the LC and very dramatically shown to be choice challenged , emotionally crippled characters as called out by Brinn and demonstrated by Branl's take out of Clave and even Stave's punch out of Linden. But i suppose if you are a hater, reading of Linden getting punched out would make Stave a Star. ..


This is exactly why I found the arc of the Haruchai the most emotionally satisfying. They started in one place and moved toward another- progression. Stave's journey towards being a better version of Haruchai stretched gradually and reluctantly across the entire Last Chronicles- similar to Covenant or Linden's progression across the previous series. He doesn't end up perfect, but then, neither do Covenant or Linden in the previous series. They move from one place to a better place. Through the example of Stave, the Haruchai move from emotionally crippled, insular and absolutist, toward something more whole, prepared to admit and demonstrate weakness and stronger for it. The old paradoxes of the series were echoed in them.

And I'm not a Linden hater, far from it. Unlike many, I was fine with her taking centre stage, and was enjoying reading it. My OP states how I felt about that arc being resolved, something you apparently disagree with yet have not explicitly addressed.

lurch wrote:
I think TLD is the BEST Donaldson Art Work yet, and as a whole, TCoTC has nudged out the Gap series as my favorite. There is a maturity of craftwork that shows in the LC and culminates in TLD.. In the Gap series, Donaldson took us to outer space to find our humanity. In the Last Chrons, he took us to Infinity to find our humanity. SRD said he wanted to take Fantasy out of the " genre'" mode and make it Art. IMHO, SRD has been quite successful achieving that goal with TCoTC.


Quite seriously, I am happy for you. That was the experience I wanted for myself with TLD. I'd be interested to know, specifically mind, what made it that good for you. I'd be interested to know why my arguments above are not compelling for you. Do share those reasons- as of now all you've done is state that you disagree and make thinly veiled jabs at my competence as a reader.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

well,,okay then..you keep mentioning arcs.. what is Linden's arc?..through out the LC's and for that matter, through out TCoTC?.. To me..its beginning is in past, her parents abuse, her parents lack of anything close to Love for their daughter..They basically shared their " despair of Life" with their daughter. From that we are taken thru the 2nd Chrons where she is given Hope and a small taste of Love. In the Last Chrons..Linden is to explore Love in an ever widening and deeper realms. In the end..she makes a deal with She..I see,, where an escape is offered but only possible if She unburdens herself from all the souls shes carrying,,un-encumbers herself from all the literal dead weight, so to be able to make the hurried, last second escape..Its a WIN WIN end. Linden wins, all the souls of the taken advantage of women Win as do the ur-viles and She gets to escape,,leave totally, the ruin of the Old Land and Not be around or Part of..The New Land..Everybody WINS except ..despair, Lord Foulykers takes a Smack down on Her way out..Linden's LOVE is vindicated,. And NO that is not where the 2nd Chrons ended..It was very clear at the beginning of the LC..that Linden had lived so many years in an unreciprocated Love environment. TC was dead and Jerry was ,,in his graveyard..Linden was Not successful in nurturing a relationship because she was in Love witha Dead man..We are left with the consequences of the end of the 2nd Chrons..to begin with.

TC's role is one of Hope in the LC. Linden's role is of Love and Jerry's role is of Compassion. Hope Love and Compassion defeat despair by being made stronger.

The 2nd Chrons does not end on that note. The 2nd Chrons ends on a compromise..TC sacrifices himself, but becomes eternal yet is essentially feckless. The only thing he can do..is keep Foul contained..Yet, He couldn't stop Foul from using Roger to carry out his designs. My point is,,no , the LC are not a repeat ..There is the whole exploration of Love and Hope and Compassion , that had hardly begun in the previous Chrons. The core of ones Identity, ones Humanity,,is being searched for in the LC. Its not found at the end of the 2nd Chrons.

Even the haruchai redemption doesn't happen by end of the Chrons. Its suggested that perhaps some time in the future they will be able find a better and improved way of dealing with the wonderfulness of the Land..Alls I get is that haruchai have moved to admitting that they screwed the pooch in their governance of the Land,,and with Time may find a way back or forward or wherever..Heck, Branl skips out entirely with a..I gotta find myself ,exit. He doesn't kno who or what he is..Yes?

So..if you insist on putting words in my. mouth,,there are some words to play around with. To say " argue" isn't the point..I can't " argue" when what I see written by the author isn't even mentioned by you. Yes, you are late to the party.. You have repeated what more than several have already complained about. I can not counter you in argument because its like saying ..you see red and it makes you disappointed.. I say..I see blue and it makes my satisfied, fulfilled beyond expectations and happy and glad to talk about. Alls I can do is suggest looking for the Blue..if whatever color you do see, is leaving you unhappy, dissatisfied, unfulfilled. A suggestion was made ..the "Progress "is in ..new ways to think and perceive about Love, Hope and Compassion, and for that matter..new ways to tell and perceive a story as well..,and you have not taken it anywhere except as a personal insult. I can't do anything about that. You have to see..that the author is suggesting..staying true to ones humanity,,love, hope and compassion ,,is how Despair, and all that brings Despair to ones life,,is dealt with and controlled.

Taking responsibility for our imperfections, our human weaknesses,,our personal leprosy..makes us stronger than them. TC finally takes ultimate responsibility for his despair,,by owning it...Its Real.

..and oh yea..I never said I got All of Donaldson's art. I won't even say I got everything about any one of his books including any of LC's. Even on 2nd or 3rd or 4th read etc, I won't say I got ALL of what Donaldson may have intended. Thats why I am here..To compare notes and hear of other perspectives. But..the one thing I do kno for sure..is you don't get further, deeper, wider understanding by parametering or starting off with..what I didn't like..what was wrong..what makes no sense..et al..I find any lacking to be in my perception...So yea..thinking, re-reading,,thinking some more., maybe some research, is part of my experience with any good book, and thus, with Donaldson's work. Believe me..when the Runes first came out..i had trepidation because I knew how consuming Donaldson's work can be for me.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Lurch, that is exactly what I was asking you for. Your first three paragraphs are a well constructed argument, and well evidenced from the source material. I can agree with your portrayal of those themes running through Linden's character arc- as far as those arguments go (yes I will still use that word- more on that later). However I still believe that her conclusion left a lot of themes and characterisation very much in the foreground- most especially her struggle with achieving "good through evil means"- completely unaddressed. That was the disappointment for me, because that theme was the most interesting for me in the Last Chronicles.


lurch wrote:
Even the haruchai redemption doesn't happen by end of the Chrons. Its suggested that perhaps some time in the future they will be able find a better and improved way of dealing with the wonderfulness of the Land..Alls I get is that haruchai have moved to admitting that they screwed the pooch in their governance of the Land,,and with Time may find a way back or forward or wherever..Heck, Branl skips out entirely with a..I gotta find myself ,exit. He doesn't kno who or what he is..Yes?


Yes, and that is what I liked about the end of their arc. Their end represents them breaking out of cycles upon cycles of self-abnegation and reaching a point where they have the potential to become something else. That to me is a wonderful place to end it- it's a promise, like Covenant's smile at the end of TPTP.

lurch wrote:
So..if you insist on putting words in my. mouth,,there are some words to play around with. To say " argue" isn't the point..I can't " argue" when what I see written by the author isn't even mentioned by you. Yes, you are late to the party.. You have repeated what more than several have already complained about. I can not counter you in argument because its like saying ..you see red and it makes you disappointed.. I say..I see blue and it makes my satisfied, fulfilled beyond expectations and happy and glad to talk about. Alls I can do is suggest looking for the Blue..if whatever color you do see, is leaving you unhappy, dissatisfied, unfulfilled. A suggestion was made ..the "Progress "is in ..new ways to think and perceive about Love, Hope and Compassion, and for that matter..new ways to tell and perceive a story as well..,and you have not taken it anywhere except as a personal insult. I can't do anything about that.


I didn't even take it as far as taking insult. It was simply unhelpful. Suggesting that I'm missing or not looking far enough into things, without providing evidence as to what exactly I'm missing, isn't likely to be a constructive discussion for me. Which is why I think asking you to "argue" is completely valid- I like learning through discussion, even through disagreement, but if you don't provide me with the sources of your opinions- if you don't back up your argument with evidence- I don't get much out of it. It's fine that we disagree with each other- in fact, it's more interesting. But the "why" is more interesting to me than the simple fact that you see things I do not, and vice versa. And above, you did counter my argument; I stated that Linden's arc had no sensible conclusion, you stated that it did, and reasoned why. I enjoyed that, that's all I was asking for. I don't agree with you entirely, but it made me think.

As for being late to the party, I can't help that. If my opinions are the same as others, I nevertheless came by them independently. It's not repetition so much as synchronicity Wink

lurch wrote:
You have to see..that the author is suggesting..staying true to ones humanity,,love, hope and compassion ,,is how Despair, and all that brings Despair to ones life,,is dealt with and controlled.


I do see that. That's easily the most unifying theme of the three series. I just don't think the Last Chronicles did as good a job at communicating that in a satisfying way.

lurch wrote:
..and oh yea..I never said I got All of Donaldson's art. I won't even say I got everything about any one of his books including any of LC's. Even on 2nd or 3rd or 4th read etc, I won't say I got ALL of what Donaldson may have intended. Thats why I am here..To compare notes and hear of other perspectives. But..the one thing I do kno for sure..is you don't get further, deeper, wider understanding by parametering or starting off with..what I didn't like..what was wrong..what makes no sense..et al..I find any lacking to be in my perception...So yea..thinking, re-reading,,thinking some more., maybe some research, is part of my experience with any good book, and thus, with Donaldson's work. Believe me..when the Runes first came out..i had trepidation because I knew how consuming Donaldson's work can be for me.


I'm sure there are many things that are to be understood about the Last Chronicles that I could glean by re-reads and deep analysis. They sure are as dense or more than the other books. Certainly I've enjoyed doing that many many times with the first two trilogies. The Second is my favourite work of fiction, bar none. But the presence of underlying deep meaning simply isn't enough to make me enjoy a book. It wasn't the main reason I enjoyed the other books, I enjoyed those first and foremost for their characters and emotion. The way those characters and emotions were handled in TLD disappointed me, and that glaring fault- be it in me or the material- makes me disinclined to dig around for minutiae. Call that putting the cart before the horse if you like- perhaps we simply read for different reasons.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Cambo, good to see you around and being the change you want to see! Laughing

You're a bit late to the party alright, but that may be no bad thing. Things got hot for a while after TLD came out. Some people seem to have held off on their disappointment with the series, right up until the publication of TLD, in the hope that SRD might pull it out of the fire. (Personally, I had come to terms with my disappointment before AATE.) When they felt that he hadn't, a lot of years of disappointment spilled out.

It was unpleasant for a couple of weeks, but then, once people got the bad stuff out of their system it settled down. Those who were disappointed with the books (which included me) stopped posting about them and went back to their normal Watch routine, posting in the 1st and 2nd Chrons fora, going to E'fests etc. And those who enjoyed them have been posting away in TLD forum, doing dissections, going to E'fests etc.

Two large-sweep interpretations of TLD and the LCs emerged from the whole thing. One is that put forward by lurch, which involves Surrealism (it might be worthwhile asking him to start a thread about it as it is scattered around the threads in TLD forum). The other is laid out in this thread:
There was also an enjoyable early read-along thread that might be worth a look.

Enjoy catching up and if you want to avoid the nastiness skip the locked threads in TLD forum. dlb did a good job of nipping most of it in the bud.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

..okay then..what you credit the haruchai for..is very much the same TC, Linden and Jerry do. TC starts off murdering Joan and with one foot in the grave , just about dead...and arcs to a very much " living" future. Linden experiences the " feel " of ecstatic Love, is taken to beyond words from the very beginning,,and finds out what all that means when applied to her reality, for the rest of the book. And Jerry, like a young pup, begins with wagging his tongue like a 2 week old doggie tail and by end,,has finally seen life thru anothers eyes btw of seeing/ experiencing his moms possession by a raver and thus ,, learns how to defeat a Raver. Jerry is brought to blood running out of his mouth by Foul..howabout blood as a metaphor for " Life" and the whole Foul /Jerry exchange at end ,,suggesting Jerry isn't wagging his tongue like a puppy's tail anymore...? He can talk life experiences now..hes gained real knowledge.
...I see their arcs ,,as intended by the author, to be far more involved, dimensioned, central, to the overall story, than the plight of the haruchai. IMHO,,the author never lets the haruchai off the hook,,and only gives them a chance in the future..to redeem themselves. That says more about the author than the haruchai from my view.
No, I didn't get all that on the first read. All over this site I and others post and discuss. My intent is to learn , widen my understanding of Donaldson's work thru discussions here with folks who share thoughts on our common interest, SRD. ..One aspect of TLD for certain, and the LCs in general...is in How the story is told. Just as the characters see new ways to deal with ..that which serves to screw with them, give them despair, ..the author uses new ways to tell the story,,so the reader can see ,,new choices in how they perceive and think about their own life. Splitting the two main protagonists apart serves to advance the idea of seeing the same, two different ways,,both valid. Save AND Damn. Riddle and Mystery laced thru out is not new for Donaldson and certainly we are teased by their use thru out LC and especially taunted by the author for our " enjoyment" in TLD. TLD begins in metaphor and ends in metaphor; with fantastic metaphors thru out,,each a seed to grow much mental activity as one wishes. The author forsakes the linear perspective of telling a story. The linear , one event leading to the next event style is on shakey ground by end of AATE and is done away with well into TLD. Like the Creator, Plot becomes non sequitor. The Metaphor IS The Message. How We Think and Perceive IS The Message.

Easy to perceive?..no. If it was, it'd be on HBO by now. The author uses the " parable" form in each chapter rather than the mundane logic of one event leading to the next. Mystery..the answer to the question,,Who Am I?,,has never been easy . The Unknown is like that, if it was easy it wouldn't remain unknown very long. Heck, even Donaldson suggests that..that Mystery isn't resolved by end of TLD. Its an ongoing exploration..and when we stop exploring that Mystery..we die. The Resolution,,the Progress,,is in How we think,,not What we think.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Cambo. Thanks for starting a thread like this. This is a topic near and dear to my heart, and I had kinda been waiting until I had a firmer grasp on the issue before trying to discuss it. (I had tried to explore it once, earlier, in a Thread called Thomas Covenant 2.0. But my ideas were ill-formed back then. The are still pretty ill-defined.)

If we start with this premise: Covenant did not grow as a character at all.

My immediate response to this is: Donaldson would never write such a story. Ever.

An act of faith, yes. And of trust. But not an irrational act.

So, for me, the hypothesis is: Covenant changes. And the question is: how does Covenant change in the Last Chronicles? Where, in all that story, is the evidence of such changes, and what do they tell us? If I don't see it, the problem is me, not Donaldson. It took me decades to see into the first two Chronicles, and I am going to give this one more time.

For me, this is all the difference in the world. It is the difference between writing Donaldson off because of one's initial reaction, and judging Donaldson arightly after the careful consideration he deserves. This is why it is dear to me.

One thing: We know Donaldson has changed as a writer. The Gap is nothing like the Chronicles. Donaldson in his mature years writes a leaner, sparer story. He doesn't telegraph his metaphors the way he used to, his prose no longer drips with allegory that rises up to your ankles as you wade through it. This is maturation, in my opinion. The result is that it takes more effort to see the connections, but by the same token the reader is freer to enjoy whatever connections they might find. Donaldson isn't leading you by the nose.

Another thing is this: people assume that Covenant doesn't "become whole" until he and Foul do their thing. This, I think, is wrong. I think the union of Foul and Covenant is a symbol that Covenant has become whole. This has been true of every other Chronciles: first Covenant grows, and then this growth enables victory over Foul. Victory over Foul isn't the growth itself.

So, then, when you look for Covenant's growth, you have to look for signs of becoming more and more whole.

And gosh, the signs are there. He literally is resurrected in pieces, and he puts himself together in an act of pure Creation. He finally concludes his relationship with Joan. He takes his relationship with Linden to the next level, and lo, wow, power literally starts flying out of his fingertips.

Linden's growth is there, too. She rouses the Worm, and has to find a way to deal with the consequences without writing herself off. And what she learns about herself she passes on to Jeremiah, who needs this to maintain his courage and convictions in the short time he has to grow up.

I could talk a lot more about that. But at this moment I just want to say, this stuff is there. As I said, I need more time to fully appreciate and understand it. I can't do it justice right now.

But I cannot resist one tease: consider how Covenant, broken by resurrection, tells Linden to "don't touch me", and then he heals himself in an act of wild-magic-feuled self-creation, and when he emerges, his completely changes direction, and proposes. That's becoming whole.

Let me say one third thing. The Creator didn't show up. Because the world is Covenant's (and Linden's and Jeremiah's) responsibility. But we also know the metaphor, the connection, between Covenant and the Land. If you put two and two together, you can see that Covenant is now responsible for his own growth.

What that means to me is that the Land is not going to transform Covenant. Covenant's fate will not be to be pushed from one situation to another, each one a teaching moment. He will not get any gifts. No one will impart any wisdom to him. He will not be taught love or beauty or anything monumental by what he discovers. The land's need will not show him his errors, or push him to change.

Covenant is going to transform himself.

That is, to me, the ultimate endpoint on a journey from futility to effectiveness, a journey out of the Ironic Mode into self-determination.

But this also means that all the usual clues you find in the Chronicles that point to Covenant's transformation won't be there this time. You have to look for different things.

Or you might not see it at all.

lurch wrote:
.TC and Linden got married..thats not progress? thats not a major step forward ..

It certainly is. Just the fact that Covenant and Linden become two rightful white gold wielders should tell us this. Because there's always a deeper meaning to these things.

lurch wrote:
Sorry , true, not everything was handed to the reader on a silver platter.

That's the point I am trying to make as well. It's not the same kind of story. The symbolism is less blatant, most of the time. But trust that it's there.

Cambo wrote:
Yes, that's an example of progress. And it was nice to see. But it wasn't a resolution of the conflicts and themes of the series.

Covenant emerged from resurrection a man who considered himself of little consequence, as he had already sacrificed himself. This resolved THAT issue. It resolved the issue of white gold wielders, which had been an ongoing issue since Runes. It concluded Linden's quest to have a family who loves her and that she can love. This was resolution on so many levels. It's Donaldson's genius that he symbolized this with marriage -- which was what the white gold ring had been a symbol of since LFB.

Cambo wrote:
Quite seriously, I am happy for you. That was the experience I wanted for myself with TLD.

Is it arrogant to say that it is my fondest wish to help people enjoy the Last Chronicles more than they do?
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well ,to uss's remark..Sorry , I will not educate folks on what Surrealism is. Its a state of mind. Its about answering the question..Who Am I?..I can not tell any one Who They Are..Thats for them to answer just like Surrealism itself..As TLD emphasizes..finding those New Choices, New Ways of Seeing and Thinking,,will lead to self discovery. Each individual has to do that on their own. I can't do it for them..I can suggest...googling " What Is Surrealism? " and googling..Andre Breton for starters. But thats just a beginning.

Way. yeaa, TC changes alrite. My favorite example of How TC changed in how he thinks..is when he figured out how to use the Krill to Time Travel. As stated in the dissect, there is nothing new in that scene. TC, the haruchai, the horses...the only thing new,,was how he thought about it. The moment is very much like Linden's unraveling of the Ward stopping the company in the Lost Deep..TC and Linden both find a common " thread" and connect the dots accordingly..Its my opinion that those analogies are great examples of..Intuition. ...As you say Way..rather subtle , not so blatant. The author is saying,,if you want to involve your self with the story..you really have to get intimate. In the smallest moments, there is large import. ...btw.. that is a trait amongst quite a few writers...not just Donaldson. If any moment was small or little, it wouldn't be there in the first place.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We've seen readers here criticized for not liking the LC because of an alleged nostalgia for the first two Chronicles--an inability to like something New. Now we're seeing criticism of readers for not liking the LC because (as they claim) it doesn't progress enough from the previous two. And apparently it's their fault if they can't see the progress. Is it ever possible that they might have a point?

The only thing that's clear here is there is not a single criticism that can be raised about the LC--even entirely opposite points across such spectrums as noted above--that won't be used as an opportunity to criticize readers, by one or two here. Telling people that Donaldson won't hand them the meaning "on a silver platter" is the same as telling them they aren't reading with sufficient care and thoughtfulness to appreciate the meaning.

Is it possible to construct a rebuttal that doesn't address the reader at all? Sure it is. So why do readers' abilities keep being raised as the primary rebuttal? It could be viewed as proof that the evidence claimed by the apologists isn't in the text at all, otherwise they could just reference the text without these implicit (or even explicit) criticisms of readers. Numerous requests have been made to please stop putting the blame on readers, if a productive discussion is truly desired. This is the main impediment to productive discussion. Stop telling us that we don't get it. Please. Seriously.

We all know that Donaldson is a deep writer who requires more engagement than most fantasy writers. That's why we read him. We don't need others to tell us this, especially as a response to criticism.

It may be true that the LC are more subtle than the previous two, or it may be that this is an excuse on par with "god works in mysterious ways." If the subtlety can't be pointed out with examples, then it's not even clear that the defenders can see it. Indeed, we have the defenders here claiming that they can't do their own points justice, and that they're not going to "educate us" on the (apparently) essential philosophy necessary to understand these subtleties. That's not a discussion. I'm not sure what's the point of even bringing up something you can't defend or explain, other than to criticize others about their alleged ignorance.

Yes, TC and LA got married. That is an indicator of growth, but not a depiction or a dramatization of it. Yes, TC started wielding wild magic like a precision weapon, but that's an indicator of growth, not a depiction of it. It's like saying, "TC grew" without explaining how or why. What people are complaining about here is the lack of a story, a depiction, a build-up, a crescendo. They don't want it handed on a silver-platter ... that's precisely what the marriage and wild-magic-sword are: there's nothing subtle about either one. They are like instances of unearned knowledge. We got there without a journey. Sure, there was lots of walking around (and lots of sitting around), but the character development along the way wasn't depicted like in the previous two Chronicles. It's not that we have to infer it or tease it out, because SRD gives us these blatant signs of development on silver platters. It's just that these signs don't feel earned, as the endpoint of a developmental process. They just happen. They only seem necessary as plot points, rather than the necessary outcomes of a symbolic journey.

You can claim to see things that the rest of us don't see. But if you can't spell it out without telling us to Google something else (much less another author SRD claimed to have never heard of), that claim is doubtful at best.

It's very easy to use obscurity as an excuse for depth. But if you claim to see into those depths--and criticize others for lacking this ability--then you should be able to explain it. This isn't a religion. I'm not going to accept that the story is as good as some claim simply as a matter of faith.

Lurch, is there a single possible criticism that can be made of the LC that you'd accept as a valid point? Or this the One True Story that's magically above all possible criticism?
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't have time today to engage this in a way that I would like, nor find the points in the story that I am about to reference. Let me say that I enjoyed the LC as a whole and put them above most other books out there today.

That said, there were several times in AATE and TLD where I literally stopped mid-sentence and thought some variation of "oh, come ON." Events and/or words that literally knocked me out of the normally transcendental mental state in which I read novels.

No other works of SRD have done that, and that's not a good thing. And it's not surrealism that I don't recognize, and it's not things I'm looking for. I think I just have a higher expectation of quality and things that in other books I would shrug off I am less inclined to do so here.

BUT. I still love the series and the author Big Grin
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 03, 2014 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if part of the problem with the LC was an excess of story happening all at once. You have at least three villains (four if you count Foul, who really doesn't do much) competing with each other while trying to stop the heroes (or sometimes help them so the other villains plans get foiled), three heroes who each have an excessive amount of angst about various things, as well as mysterious new figures with unknown purposes in the Insequent.

That's a lot of stuff. Add to that Donaldsons tendency to really make sure the reader knows what mental state a character is in ... well, it can get pretty dense. Especially when all these things start coming to gether at the end.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dense?..no argument Wild !..but thats not a new trait in the TCoTC , imho. The tragedy in real life gets transposed to " The Land" where everything is an exaggerated upside down inside out version , or metaphoric version, of what has and is transpiring in real life. Its been that way all along...imho.

What I fall victim to..is..the author's lyrical prose. It flows sooOOoo wwEELLllLL,,that whats going on, already complicated by the upside down inside outness of it all,,gets scant attention because I'm enjoying the alliteration and metre so much. Therefore, I know I will be doing a second read minimum,,as soon as I get done with the first read. The first read is for the joy of style. The second read is for wadeing into the deep end.

What happened with TLD tho..style became the story. Metaphor became the message...I'm still reeling from this "transcendence" by the author. I'll be the first to say the observation was/ is not easy. But,,dense? No, not dense, just different...Is Intuition any denser than Logic or reason?..no, not really,,its just a different way of using the brain.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A point: even if we accept that the metaphor and symbolism is as deep and rich in the Last Chronicles as some claim, and that more incisive reading would reveal this....is that necessarily a success if it made the books less immediately engaging than the previous ones? Reading the Last Chronicles, there were brief flashes of the emotional punch the Second Chrons had for me. In TLD, there was nothing at all, despite some very emotionally charged moments for the characters. If there are depths of metaphor to plumb- and I believe there likely are- that will be an intellectual reading, not an emotional one. I don't think any amount of dissection will provide me with what was missing on that first read.

And that, really, is why I am bitter.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No Sir, I can't let you get away with that Cambo....First..the allegory, metaphors, et al have been there all along. I mean..Lord Foul..Lord Foul is a symbol..for despair. ..yellow fanged eyes and all.. As one would expect..the metaphors just got better, finer tuned, more developed etc etc over time. ..Your, ..less immediately engaging than the previous ones...uhh, sorry, that is BS..That denies growing with time, honing skills, mastering the craft..Nope,,ain't buying your point one bit. If you deny that to the author,,maybe you are denying that to yourself as well.

2nd..and this is the most disturbing.." I don't think any amount of dissection will provide me with what was missing on that first read."..With self-defeatism like that, my goodness. So, you like being bitter about the end? I mean..it isn't going to change. ..The book started on a emotional high, beyond words, and took me up and down better than a roller coaster ride and like the best of them , at the end, brought me to tears for want of more. I'm sorry you didn't get on the ride.

What ever..The dissect of TLD is going on right now over at Group Readings..Please don't stop your self from a read or two. The more we talk about it, the more good stuff we discover.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't like the book either, Cambo, for many of the things you mentioned. I also didn't like the extreme repetition of the same inner dialogue over and over or all the repeating of the same internal thoughts again and again. The constant reiteration of the same theme repeatedly also wore on me when it repeated.

I think the book felt rushed, maybe? Perhaps SRD needed a fifth book to play it all out? And, I think a strong editor could have cut a third of the book out. I really didn't find the inner dialogue telling me the same doubts and angst for the 223rd time in a single chapter to be compelling. I get it-these people have issues!! I felt like I was drowning in self-doubt and angst and had to force myself to keep reading.

I thought the whole group therapy thing with the land as metaphor felt a little too heavy handed by the last book. In the older books, there was a magical balance between metaphor and fantasy. Here, it just felt like sitting inside the heads of people in a group therapy session, I thought.

Yes, the characters are the creators and the despisers, but this was the case since the first books. I agree with you that the ending didn't offer much that wasn't in the second series. I also think Z made fine points about seeing growth happen rather than just the result. (Although, TC killing the memories of his wife that kept him in the past could count if you look at Joan as a construct or tool for TC to confront in order to move on)

Which raver did they leave alive? I can't remember.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lurch wrote:
No Sir, I can't let you get away with that Cambo....First..the allegory, metaphors, et al have been there all along. I mean..Lord Foul..Lord Foul is a symbol..for despair. ..yellow fanged eyes and all.. As one would expect..the metaphors just got better, finer tuned, more developed etc etc over time. ..Your, ..less immediately engaging than the previous ones...uhh, sorry, that is BS..That denies growing with time, honing skills, mastering the craft..Nope,,ain't buying your point one bit. If you deny that to the author,,maybe you are denying that to yourself as well.


You know lurch, I feel I need to tell you it's ok that we disagree, and have very different experiences and opinions of this book. You seem to be almost upset that my opinions are so much opposite of yours, but I don't intend them as an attack on anyone who does like the book.

Also, you seem to be misinterpreting me. Yes, of course the metaphors have been there all along (although I believe Donaldson himself has stated that he does not write allegory). Of course Foul is a symbol for despair, and of course Covenant's struggles in the Land are paralleled with his struggles within himself and the meaning of his life. Give me some credit here. It's not the presence of metaphor I was criticising- it's the absence of many other factors, some quite difficult to define, that made the previous series so great for me. I'm saying the presence of stylised writing and metaphor isn't enough to make up for what I found missing in the book.

As far as honing skills, etc, goes: is it on me to simply assume that those things are represented in these books, if I am finding them lacking? Does the fact that Donaldson has been a consistently excellent writer for most of his career mean he could never write something lacking, or even something that I simply don't like? Before this book, I really did trust Donaldson- endings have always been a strong point of his, and I went in ready to be WOWed. But I stand by my statement- for me, something essential simply wasn't there.

lurch wrote:
2nd..and this is the most disturbing.." I don't think any amount of dissection will provide me with what was missing on that first read."..With self-defeatism like that, my goodness. So, you like being bitter about the end? I mean..it isn't going to change. ..The book started on a emotional high, beyond words, and took me up and down better than a roller coaster ride and like the best of them , at the end, brought me to tears for want of more. I'm sorry you didn't get on the ride.


Really? Disturbing is the word you choose? I mean, I've been puzzled by people who hold starkly different opinions about art or entertainment than I do. On occasion, I've been baffled and even frustrated by what I perceive as unfair judgements of a beloved text. But I don't think I've ever been "disturbed" by someone's opinion of a book. I find it odd how invested you seem in my opinions.

Anyway, you're missing my point again. My point was that "what was missing," by it's nature, could only have been possible on a first read. There's no way a second read of White Gold Wielder, to use a positive example, would ever yield the same gut-punch of emotion, excitement and awe that I felt reading the climax in Gravin Threndor for the first time. That really is a once in a lifetime moment. I should know, as I've re-read it oh, probably a dozen times. Each time I re-read those books, yes, I do pick up on new little literary hints and subtleties and foreshadowing. My understanding of what Donaldson achieved with that book grows with each re-read. But I can't reclaim how I felt the first time I witnessed what happened in that mountain.

Dissection won't help me get back what was missing, simply because I can only read a book for the first time once. I certainly don't like it, but I don't think it's self-defeatist either. It's simply how my relationship to writing works.

Ananda wrote:
I thought the whole group therapy thing with the land as metaphor felt a little too heavy handed by the last book. In the older books, there was a magical balance between metaphor and fantasy. Here, it just felt like sitting inside the heads of people in a group therapy session, I thought.


You've certainly put your finger on one thing I found wrong with the Last Chronicles, Ananda. And it's not even just too much talking- it's how they talk about things that lessened it for me. During Covenant's confrontation with Foul in the First Chronicles, I felt he was packing entire philosophies into a few short words: "Nevertheless" or "Yes. No. It doesn't matter." The internal monologues of the characters, in TLD especially, felt like they were philosophers themselves. The near-incoherent way Covenant and Linden would grapple with concepts- again, many of the same concepts- in the Second Chrons made them seem mortal and frail, brushing up against ideas much larger than themselves. Perhaps you could say it's progress that they transcended that stage, became something divine themselves. But for me that undermines something that made the other books so special to me: the idea, the belief, that your actions and struggle and sacrifice matter, precisely because you are mortal and limited.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

wayfriend wrote:
Linden's growth is there, too. She rouses the Worm, and has to find a way to deal with the consequences without writing herself off. And what she learns about herself she passes on to Jeremiah, who needs this to maintain his courage and convictions in the short time he has to grow up.


This is a bit of an aside here, but Jeremiah's situation is so very reminiscent of that of Davies Hyland in the Gap: both face the situation of being dropped into an adult world with only a very short time to mature and adjust. It seems to be a theme that has some significance to SRD.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 04, 2014 12:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

amanibhavam wrote:
wayfriend wrote:
Linden's growth is there, too. She rouses the Worm, and has to find a way to deal with the consequences without writing herself off. And what she learns about herself she passes on to Jeremiah, who needs this to maintain his courage and convictions in the short time he has to grow up.


This is a bit of an aside here, but Jeremiah's situation is so very reminiscent of that of Davies Hyland in the Gap: both face the situation of being dropped into an adult world with only a very short time to mature and adjust. It seems to be a theme that has some significance to SRD.


That's a very interesting comparison! Such starkly contrasting outcomes as well.
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