The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant several years after the books were published in the late 1970s, I stopped reading fantasy. I was thinking seriously about writing a fantasy novel of my own and was concerned that I might be influenced by Donaldson's work.
Like the trilogy's novels, Lord Foul's Bane (1977), The Illearth War (1978) and The Power that Preserves (1979), my on-the-drawing board novel also included a respect for the power of nature and wooden staffs which focused a young avatar's own power. We both use the term "arch of time," but for vastly different intents. And, like Donaldson, I am a pacifist.
I probably didn't need to worry about unintentionally using Donaldson's themes, but his trilogy was having such a profound impact on me that I felt better putting it aside while working on the book that--some years later--ultimately was published as The Sun Singer. After finishing Sarabande, a follow-up novel to The Sun Singer this fall, I finally went back to Donaldson's critically acclaimed work.
In a reading marathon, I read the six novels that comprise The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (The Wounded Land, The One Tree, and White Gold Wielder), a total of 2,129 pages. Fans of the series know that after a hiatus, Donaldson came back to is epic stories about "The Land" in 2004 with the first book in a quartrology to be called The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.
I'll read the quartrology some day, but I'm worn out and ready for something else. I still like Donaldson's dark, highly complex series with its gruff anti-hero. But I'm not the same person I was 34 years ago. As I said in my post Fantasies with ‘personal stories’ that mirror our lives, I'm more interested now in fantasies that focus on individual protagonists rather than on world-changing struggles between the forces of good an evil.
Returning to Donaldson's epic after all these years involved a bit of time travel, and I'm not just talking about the 3,000-year gap (in the time-frame in "The Land") between the end of The Power That Preserves and the beginning of The Wounded Land. Reading a series that I started and then set aside 34 years ago was a bit nostalgic. It took me back to the years when I left college teaching and went into technical writing with plans to morph into a novelist.
Before Donaldson, I read a lot of science fiction, but was beginning to find myself more interested in the fantasy elements in SciFi than in the science. I was a fan of Frank Herbert's Dune because of its magic and (as Donaldson would call it), its Lore. Along with Dune, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant convinced me that the stories I wanted to tell could be told as fantasies.
So, reading-wise, you can "go home again," back to those novels that influenced your writing career even though you're not transformed back into the person you were then. I feel like I've just returned from a journey of several thousand years. I highly recommend Donald's "Chronicles" to those who like epic fantasies that compare very favorably in scope to Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and George R.R. Martin's series that began with A Game of Thrones.
As for me, I'm only too happy to be reading Lisa Goldstein's sparkling 237-page contemporary fantasy The Uncertain Places with Erin Morgenstern's wild and crazy The Night Circus next on the list.