The Illearth WarStephen R. Donaldson
fantasy > high fantasy
British Fantasy Award 1979. World Fantasy Award nominee 1978, Locus Award nominee 1978.
It has been forty years in the time of the Land – a mere four days in the time of Thomas Covenant's "real" world – since his first visit to that magical realm torn by an age-old, elemental struggle between the forces of good and evil. Having led the Council of Lords on a perilous quest to recover the Staff of Law, a talisman of power lost for centuries, he returns to discover their earlier mission to have been merely the opening move in the apocalyptic scheme of Lord Foul the Despiser, the Land's immortal enemy. For that quest has given Foul an even greater weapon – the Illearth Stone – and as seems to be the pattern of his afflicted life, Covenant must assume personal responsibility for a fateful situation he has tried desperately to avoid.
The conflict that follows is of monumental scale, for now the powers of evil are truly unleashed: Lord Foul attacks the Land. Defending it is the stalwart Council of Lords, governed now by the beautiful High Lord Elena – discovered to be Covenant's own daughter – and led in combat by Warmark Hile Troy – a blind man who may or may not be from Covenant's real world. Armies clash in titanic battle – malevolent spawns of evil met by the main and magic of the Land's protectors – while Covenant and Elena pursue their own hazardous mission into a fabled mountain region, hoping to find the ancient gnostic power that will counter the Illearth Stone.
Stephen R. Donaldson (US, born 1947) is one of the most successful fantasy authors. Every volume of his epic fantasy The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, beginning with Lord Foul's Bane in 1977, has been an international bestseller. Donaldson returned to the series with The Runes of the Earth in 2004. He lives in New Mexico.