Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The most important failure in modern fantasy fiction Pt 2

Like most fantasy writers, Donaldson's world-building is shaped by plot expediency and sheer joy in topography and taxonomy. However, that The Land also reflects and partakes in Covenant's psychodrama is a masterstroke

At the start of two of the three books in the Chronicles, Covenant is forced to descend the look out tower of Kevin's Watch. This descent is as much spiritual as physical; it marks his exit from modernity and its entry into a realm begging him to make an apparently simple moral choice to defend it.

Sometimes this plea is verbal, often it is shown rather than told through the beauty of the landscape Covenant sees on his wandering: the Andelainian hills; the pure pool of Glimmermere; the Petra-a-like city of Revelstone. It is even embodied by the 'highest' and 'best' inhabitants of The Land, such as the Giants or the Ranyhyn horse-lords.

In order for Covenant's dilemma to have meaning, this geographical hyperbole is essential. It is vital that The Land be 'too good' for him, ask too much of him.

The creation of The Land through the visual imagination of Stephen Donaldson transcends window dressing - it becomes - and I mean this as a serious compliment - it becomes a stage set which enhances the meaning of the tale itself.

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