The Power That Preserves (First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Series #3)

The Power That Preserves (First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Series #3)

by Stephen R. Donaldson

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“A trilogy of remarkable scope and sophistication.”—Los Angeles Times

Twice before Thomas Covenant had been summoned to the strange otherworld where magic worked. Twice before he had been forced to join with the Lords of Revelstone in their war against Lord Foul, the ancient enemy of the Land.

Now he was back—to a Land ravaged by the armies of Lord Foul. The Lords were besieged and helpless. No place was safe, and Foul's victory seemed certain. Only Covenant could avert it. Desperately and without hope, he set out to confront the might of the Enemy. Along with him traveled a Giant, a Bloodguard, and the madwoman he had wronged. And in Foul's Creche, Lord Foul grew in power with each new defeat for the Land. . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307818669
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/16/2012
Series: Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever Series , #3
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 64,955
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Stephen R. Donaldson is the bestselling author of the series The Gap Cycle, Mordant's Need, and the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, including Lord Foul's Bane and The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant; and other works, such as Daughter of Regals and Other Tales and a mystery series under the pseudonym Reed Stephens. He is the recipient of the first prize of the British Science Fiction Society and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.

Read an Excerpt

ONE: The Danger in Dreams
Thomas Covenant was talking in his sleep. At times he knew what he was doing; the broken pieces of his voice penetrated his stupor dimly, like flickers of innocence. But he could not rouse himself—the weight of his exhaustion was too great. He babbled like millions of people before him, whole or ill, true or false. But in his case there was no one to hear. He would not have been more alone if he had been the last dreamer left alive.
When the shrill demand of the phone cut through him, he woke up wailing.
For a moment after he threw himself upright in bed, he could not distinguish between the phone and his own flat terror; both echoed like torment through the fog in his head. Then the phone rang again. It pulled him sweating out of bed, compelled him to shamble like a derelict into the living room, forced him to pick up the receiver. His numb, disease-cold fingers fumbled over the black plastic, and when he finally gained a grip on it, he held it to the side of his head like a pistol.
He had nothing to say to it, so he waited in blankness for the person at the other end of the line to speak.
A woman’s voice asked uncertainly, “Mr. Covenant? Thomas Covenant?”
“Yes,” he murmured, then stopped, vaguely surprised by all the things he had with that one word admitted to be true.
“Ah, Mr. Covenant,” the voice said. “Megan Roman calling.” When he said nothing, she added with a touch of acerbity, “Your lawyer. Remember?”
But he did not remember; he knew nothing about lawyers. Numb mist confused all the links of his memory. Despite the metallic distortion of the connection, her voice sounded distantly familiar; but he could not identify it.
She went on, “Mr. Covenant, I’ve been your lawyer for two years now. What’s the matter with you? Are you all right?”
The familiarity of her voice disturbed him. He did not want to remember who she was. Dully he murmured, “It doesn’t have anything to do with me.”
“Are you kidding? I wouldn’t have called if it didn’t have to do with you. I wouldn’t have anything to do with it if it weren’t your business.” Irritation and discomfort scraped together in her tone.
“No.” He did not want to remember. For his own benefit, he strained to articulate, “The Law doesn’t have anything to do with me. She broke it. Anyway, I— It can’t touch me.”
“You better believe it can touch you. And you better listen to me. I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but—”
He interrupted her. He was too close to remembering her voice. “No,” he said again. “It doesn’t bind me. I’m—outside. Separate. It can’t touch me. Law is”—he paused for a moment, groped through the fog for what he wanted to say—“not the opposite of Despite.”
Then in spite of himself he recognized her voice. Through the disembodied inaccuracy of the phone line, he identified her.
A sickness of defeat took the resistance out of him.
She was saying, “—what you’re talking about. I’m your lawyer, Megan Roman. And if you think the law can’t touch you, you’d better listen to me. That’s what I’m calling about.”
“Yes,” he said hopelessly.
“Listen, Mr. Covenant.” She gave her irritation a free hand. “I don’t exactly like being your lawyer. Just thinking about you makes me squirm. But I’ve never backed down on a client before, and I don’t mean to start with you. Now pull yourself together and listen to me.”
“Yes.” Elena? he moaned dumbly. Elena? What have I done to you?
“All right. Here’s the situation. That—unfortunate escapade of yours—Saturday night—has brought matters to a head. It— Did you have to go to a nightclub, Mr. Covenant? A nightclub, of all places?”
“I didn’t mean it.” He could think of no other words for his contrition.
“Well, it’s done now. Sheriff Lytton is up in arms. You’ve given him something he can use against you. He spent Sunday evening and this morning talking to a lot of people around here. And the people he talked to talked to other people. The township council met at noon.
“Mr. Covenant, this probably wouldn’t have happened if everyone didn’t remember the last time you came to town. There was a lot of talk then, but it’d calmed down for the most part. Now it’s stirred up again. People want action.
“The council intends to give them action. Our scrupulous local government is going to have your property rezoned. Haven Farm will probably be zoned industrial. Residential use will be prohibited. Once that’s done, you can be forced to move. You’ll probably get a fair price for the Farm—but you won’t find any other place to live in this county.”
“It’s my fault,” he said. “I had the power, and I didn’t know how to use it.” His bones were full to the marrow with old hate and death.
“What? Are you listening to me? Mr. Covenant, you’re my client—for whatever that’s worth. I don’t intend to stand by and let this happen to you. Sick or not, you’ve got the same civil rights as anyone else. And there are laws to protect private citizens from—persecution. We can fight. Now I want—” Against the metallic background noise of the phone, he could hear her gathering her courage. “I want you to come to my office. Today. We’ll dig into the situation—arrange to appeal the decision, or file suit against it—something. We’ll discuss all the ramifications, and plan a strategy. All right?”
“The sense of deliberate risk in her tone penetrated him for a moment. He said, “I’m a leper. They can’t touch me.”
“They’ll throw you out on your ear! Damn it, Covenant—you don’t seem to understand what’s going on here. You are going to lose your home. It can be fought—but you’re the client, and I can’t fight it without you.”
But her vehemence made his attention retreat. Vague recollections of Elena swirled in him as he said, “That’s not a good answer.” Absently he removed the receiver from his ear and returned it to its cradle.
For a long time, he stood gazing at the black instrument. Something in its irremediable pitch and shape reminded him that his head hurt.
Something important had happened to him.
As if for the first time, he heard the lawyer saying, Sunday evening and this morning. He turned woodenly and looked at the wall clock. At first he could not bring his eyes into focus on it; it stared back at him as if it were going blind. But at last he made out the time. The afternoon sun outside his windows confirmed it.
He had slept for more than thirty hours.
Elena? he thought. That could not have been Elena on the phone. Elena was dead. His daughter was dead. It was his fault.
His forehead began to throb. The pain rasped his mind like a bright, brutal light. He ducked his head to try to evade it.
Elena had not even existed. She had never existed. He had dreamed the whole thing.
Elena! he moaned. Turning, he wandered weakly back toward his bed.
As he moved, the fog turned crimson in his brain.
When he entered the bedroom, his eyes widened at the sight of his pillow; and he stopped. The pillowcase was stained with black splotches. They looked like rot, some species of fungus gnawing away at the white cleanliness of the linen.
Instinctively he raised a hand to his forehead. But his numb fingers could tell him nothing. The illness that seemed to fill the whole inside of his skull began laughing. His empty guts squirmed with nausea. Holding his forehead in both hands, he lurched into the bathroom.
In the mirror over the sink, he saw the wound on his forehead.
For an instant, he saw nothing of himself but the wound. It looked like leprosy, like an invisible hand of leprosy clenching the skin of his forehead. Black crusted blood clung to the ragged edges of the cut, mottling his pale flesh like deep gangrene; and blood and fluid seeped through cracks in the heavy scabs. He seemed to feel the infection festering its way straight through his skull into his brain. It hurt his gaze as if it already reeked of disease and ugly death.
Trembling fiercely, he spun the faucets to fill the sink. While water frothed into the basin, he hurried to lather his hands.
But when he noticed his white gold ring hanging loosely on his wedding finger, he stopped. He remembered the hot power which had pulsed through that metal in his dream. He could hear Bannor, the Bloodguard who had kept him alive, saying, Save her! You must!—hear himself reply, I cannot! He could hear Hile Troy’s shout, Leper! You’re too selfish to love anyone but yourself. He winced as he remembered the blow which had laid open his forehead.
Elena had died because of him.
She had never existed.

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The Power That Preserves (First Chronicles Series #3) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i have tried to get into reading and never seem to finish entire books,but the entire six novel set was so good that i read the first and second chronicles of thomas covenant within a months time and had trouble booking the books down at night,some say its over rated but i feel like its the best set of fantasy novels i ever read,most will always favor the hobbit series as the best fantasy series ever but i am going against the crowd on this one,Stephen Donaldson makes you feel like you have been to this world with the depth of detail he uses to describe everything
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jveezer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Spurred on by having the first two books of his Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant on my shelf and knowing that the third and final should be out soon, I embarked on re-reading the first two trilogies, or Chronicles. Rather than review them separately, I thought I would treat each Chronicle as a whole, as I cannot concieve of not finishing any of the Chronicles once they grab hold of you. Although many disparage Stephen Donaldson¿s writing, I don¿t have any problem with it and like that I sometimes have to grab the dictionary to understand a work he has used. In fact, that is one of the joys of reading him as I like to be challenged with vocabulary while I read.The Land itself is an incredible creation that for me is one of the greatest joys of reading his Chronicles and an incredible achievement for Donaldson, on par with the creation of J.R.R. Tolkien¿s Middle-earth. The land and its inhabitants are alive with health and sentience; manifested in EarthPower. The people of the land can sense the right and wrong in rock, tree, water, and fire, as well as in themselves. When their earth-sense lets them down or where despite and evil creep into the land, it has some defenses of its own. This earth-sense is something that resonates deep in my soul and in that part of me that treasures our earth. I wish I had a little more EarthSense. He has also peopled The Land with many strange and interesting inhabitants, good and bad: the giants, the Ranyhyn, Forestals, the Bloodguard, Elohim, Sand Gorgons, Merewives, Ravers, Ur-Viles and the like.Were the books as good as I remember from reading them in my college days 20+ years ago? Suprisingly, yes. Although I still like the genre and read it occasionally, I have moved on from those times when this was my primary source of literary escape. But I found that the books have held up very well in the time since my last read. I would highly recommend them to readers interested in one of the early masters of the genre.In The Power That Preserves, the first Chronicles come to an amazing climax. Another seven years have passed in the land when Covenant is summoned in their need. Again there is war in The Land and the Lord¿s are hard-pressed by Lord Foul¿s armies while Covenant tries to go it alone against the Despiser. This is a fitting and well-written end to the trilogy that ties together many of the loose ends from the first two books. In my opinion, it can stand alone. I¿m not sure if Donaldson already had plans for the Second Chronicles at the time of this writing or not.
idanush on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
All that starts bad ends bad. This book gives the poor protagonist several seconds of hope and renewal and then it dutifully snatches them away. A painful ending to a painful trilogy. Very strong stuff but I simply couldn't take it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The secondary attempts with Thomas Covenent left me dry. It should have stopped with "The Power That Persevers." I did not like Linden and I hurt on what happened to the Land. I now have gone back to the start and I'm enchanted.
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I had read Donaldson's books many years ago and it was a joy to find them available from the nook. Even better the second time around. He paints an extraordinary vision of the character Covenant as the unwilling hero, the hero you can feel in yourself. I recommend this not only as a fun read, but a great read for any high school student.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this series because of it's characters are so full of emotion and pain. This is a book worth checking out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being the last book of the first chronicles of thomas covenant, I'd like to say something that applies to the entire first chronicles and that is, that reading this trilogy was an experience. It is non-conventional, briliantly descriptive towards the land as well as the characters and most of all true. There were true characters, true grief & joy, which left the reader in an emotional involvement, that I haven't experienced before. I never got mad, while reading a book in my life before but I did threw the Illearth War as well as the Power that Preserves in the corner, because it simply outraged me. The thing is that you have to keep reading, it doesn't let you go and no matter how frustrating the story gets, you need to know more, you want to stay in it. One simply doesn't have a choice; when you start it, you'll have to finish it. I though it was unbelieveably powerfull; a true emotional journey
Guest More than 1 year ago
In the last daunting book of the First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, you are dragged through this man's most troublesome and trying times. Your beliefs about humanity's strength and it's triumphs are displayed in the magnificent attributes of Covenant. Never have I felt so highly of a main character in all the books I've read. As a high school student, I am reading it again to move onto the Second Chronicles. I recommend faith for this last book because I found it very hard to accept things the way they were in this plot. Overall, it is one of the greatest books I've ever read and probably ever will read again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In 'The Power That Preserves', Thomas Covenant returns to the Land a third time to find it ravaged by and almost subjugated by Lord Foul. All that stands between Lord Foul and his ultimate victory are Revelstone and a few small renegade bands. The great fortress Revelstone, weakened, having lost its elite guard, the Bloodguard, and unable to grow food due to a fierce, unnatural winter, is forced to rely on its quickly dwindling stores. And so, Covenant finds that the fate of the Land lies upon himself and the mighty wild magic of his White Gold ring, which he still has no idea how to use or control.

Donaldson uses conflict well in this story. Covenant is unaccepted in his society, as a leper. In the Land, there is obvious conflict between Foul and the defenders of the Land. There is also conflict within Covenant, feeling guilty for all the deaths and suffering he feels he causes in the Land, and in that he feels that the Land is too good to be real, too good for a leper. He does not believe it is real, and yet he feels he must still act to try to save the Land and those he meets in it. There are, of course, several other, smaller conflicts which give the book its rich story. The conflicts Donaldson uses, and the interactions between them, help the reader to get a feel for the theme. The conflict between Covenant and society shows how, in our world, he is seen as a symbol of evil, being a leper. In the Land, Covenant is seen as a hero, a savior. These two things interact to cause Covenant's internal conflicts. He is dragged into the conflict in the Land, despite how inadequate he feels. Covenant himself feels he is more the damnation to the Land than the redemption. Like Covenant, we understand that, even though we may not feel adequate, we can still overcome the conflicts in our life. Even though we may not be (adequate), evil can still be overcome¿ Be not so quick to judge.