Stephen R. Donaldson

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Author Review: Stephen R. Donaldson (1947 Present)
Review Written By: Alan


Writing Style 

Body of Work 

Stephen R. Donaldson Links 


Born in Cleveland in 1947, Donaldson spent his youth (from four till sixteen) living in India, where his father worked with lepers.  He has a B.A. from the College of Wooster (Ohio) and an M.A. in English from Kent State University.  During the Vietnam War he was a conscientious objector and spent two years doing hospital work in Akron, Ohio.  His publishing debut was in 1977 with the first Thomas Covenant trilogy.  He received the prestigious John W. Campbell award as the best new science fiction writer of 1978.

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Writing Style

In my opinion, Donaldson is the only fantasy writer that I have read who surpasses J. R. R. Tolkien.  The Thomas Covenant books are based on a rich, solidly developed mythology.  The setting for these novels is not overly complex, which makes it easy to keep track of the myths that drive the people of "The Land."  Donaldson writes in a formal style, but less formal than Tolkien.  While I would not rate his books an easy afternoon read, they are thoroughly enjoyable.  His character development is rich and deep.  Although I have not read the Gap series, I understand that it is also very well written.  Digger has read the Mordant's Need books and recommends them.

But beware...the main characters of Donaldson's novels are anti-heroes.  They are dark, flawed human beings that are difficult to love.  This does not mean they aren't fascinating to read about.  It just means it is difficult to develop empathy for them.  Donaldson explores many dark and depressing themes (like leprosy and rape) in his novels.  But if you can get past the depressing subject matter, his books are thoroughly enjoyable because they are so well crafted.  His plots are well thought out and don't contain holes that require a reader to fill in the blanks.

Both Thomas Covenant trilogies deserve the respect and admiration that most fantasy readers lavish on Lord of the Rings (which I also enjoyed).  I guarantee all fans of Tolkien will enjoy the Thomas Covenant books.

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Body of Work

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever

Lord Foul's Bane 

The Illearth War 

The Power That Preserves 

The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

The Wounded Land 

The One Tree 

White Gold Wielder 

The Gap Series

The Gap Into Conflict: The Real Story

The Gap Into Vision: Forbidden Knowledge

A Dark and Hungry God Arises: The Gap Into Power

Chaos and Order: The Gap Into Madness

This Day All Gods Die: The Gap Into Ruin

Mordant's Need

The Mirror of Her Dreams

A Man Rides Through

Reave the Just and Other Tales 


For a listing of all Stephen R. Donaldson books available at, click go in the box below.

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Del Rey Books - Donaldson's publisher.  Good source of information on all Del Rey authors.  Contains information on upcoming releases as well as sample chapters.

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