Co-written by Mike Paradiso
Although the reaction to Stephen Donaldson's Lord Foul's Bane were overwhelmingly negative, and most of the responses we received in our book reviews reflected fervent abhorration of the book and its characters, there were a couple of cheerful optimists to help us see the sunny side of Donaldson.
One student writes, "I think Donaldson's 'Lord Fould's Bane' is, while not the best example of fantasy writing, an interesting addition to the genre." I'm going to go out on a limb and take "interesting" to mean "wonderful", thus transforming this review into a positive one! This student goes on to write, "Gone are the all-knowing, majestic, woodland elves, mystical wizards running around with, at best, ambiguous motives fueling their journeys. The Covenant series fills the fantasy genre, or at least adds to it, with a sense of darkness, a sense that challenges the norms of the genre". Is this cup half full or what?!
Another student writes, "... there are many uncanny similarities between Donaldson's 'Land' and Tolkien's Middle Earth.... The parallels are so pervasive as to seem almost like plagiarism at times, though it seems to me more in the spirit of a homage to Tolkien's epic." I admire this student's positive thinking, however, Donaldson denies ANY influence by Tolkien. He says he writes after the style of Faulkner, which is CLEARLY reflected in his books... NOT!
Mixed with negative comments, one student finds some of Donaldson's writing agreeable saying, "As I began reading Lord Foul's Bane, I was very interested because it was new and different from wat I normally read. The first chapter grabbed my interest with its suspense. But as I..." and that is as positive as that review got... giving Donaldson a shining 2 1/2 stars.
The final positive note comes from an optimistic reader who writes, "I actually liked the ending of Lord Foul's Bane. At first it really did annoy me. I felt like it was just an easy way to end the novel and confirmed every one of my thoughts about Donaldson being a terrible writer. However, the more I thought about it, the more it interested me. I like that it is still unclear if 'The Land' is real or just a part of some vivid dream Covenant had. It makes me want to continue reading his other novels in order to find out the truth about 'The Land'. I also liked that Donaldson makes it seem like Covenant was slipping OUT of consciousness as he goes back into reality. Normally, we would watch he main character WAKE UP... not the other way around. After re-thinking the ending, I've developed a small hope for the next two novels in the chronicles."
As it is clearly shown, positive reviews, being few and far between, were generally tinged with a bit of negativity as well. Readers keep going... it HAS to get better... right?