I’m torn. I’m torn between naming this as the worst book so far or leaving it with A Spell for Chameleon. It’s probably just below it as it has a more positive view of women…sort of.
So the plot. Thomas Covenant has leprosy. He get’s hit by a car and is suddenly in ‘the Land’. Yes. So fucking inspiring and creative a name. Anyway, he doesn’t believe he’s actually there and is has this war with himself over believing it’s real and believing it’s just a dream. He gets passed along until he is forced to go on a quest to recover the Staff of Law and defeat the bad guy (who is a cavewright named Drool. It’ so lame.)
However, it’s really about Covenant being an absolute asshole to everyone he meets, constantly being ANGRY and BITTER and GRINDING HIS TEETH for about 250 pages. I’m not kidding, he’s always an asshole and saying awful things to everyone.
It’s so boring and repetitive but mostly boring as fuck. This is because it’s got nothing interesting about it, it’s a bog standard fantasy novel, with a completely unlikeable main character and completely interchangeable other characters. There’s zero character development. There is also only really good people and really bad people. Black and white, through and through.
But no, the thing that makes it a contender for worst book is that Covenant rapes one of the characters, Lena, who is 16 years old. Then he has to voyage with Lena’s mother and shows zero remorse. What’s worse is the complete ridiculouslness of reaction to the bad guys.
Deep in his throat, he cried, Hellfire! Foul! What do you do for an encore, rape children? P. 116.
No, you asshole, that’s what you fucking did (Covenant is about 30ish).
And that kind of comparison happens twice (of bad guy doing stuff that is akin to rape). What was the author thinking?
At one point he finally realises what he’s done (for some reason he doesn’t think of it for most of the book) and he’s angry some more for approximately a paragraph and then IT’S NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN.
There were also really weird turns of phrases like “His shoulder’s hunched like a strangler’s”. Umm. What? This analogy is used twice!
As well, almost every time a woman was introduced, he described her breasts. It was constant. It happened 3 times in the first 17 pages. You are very much reminded of the male gaze in all the descriptions of the women, it was totally gross.
Finally, Covenant’s ex-wife’s job (she divorces him because of the leprosy) is to break horses. I didn’t know that was something you could do full time. But I honestly think the whole reason that was written was for these few sentences:
It seemed to Covenant that she did not break horses. She seduced them. Her touch spread calm over their twitching muscles. Her murmuring voice relaxed the tension in the angles of their ears. When she mounted them bareback, the grip of her legs made the violence of their brute fear fade. P 111.
I don’t think it passes the test. There are some higher powered women but it’s basically full of dudes. Most of the women have some character flaw (like Lena’s mother) and also half of them just die. Also, I wouldn’t count any of them as main characters, they kind of cycle through one every 50 pages.
In conclusion, don’t read this book. It’s fucking awful.