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Covenant scarcely heard her. He was pacing out his agitation on the sand, enraged and undercut by an unwanted memory of Joan. Beside his lost love, Lena and the silver night of the Land failed of significance. The hollowness of his dream became suddenly obvious to his inner view, like an unveiled wilderland, a new permutation of the desolation of
leprosy. This was not real―it was a torment that he inflicted upon himself in subconscious, involuntary revolt against his disease and loss. To himself, he groaned, Is it being outcast that does this? Is being cut off such a shock? By hell! I don't need any more.
After a moment, she whispered, "What happened to your wife?"
Covenant's shoulders jerked. Thickly, he said, "She's gone."
"How did she die?"
"Not her―me. She left me. Divorced. Terminated. When I needed her."
Indignantly, Lena wondered, "Why would such a thing happen while there is life?"
"I'm not alive." She heard fury climbing to the top of his voice. "I'm a leper. Outcast unclean. Lepers are ugly and filthy. And abominable."
His words filled her with horror and protest. "How can it be?" she moaned. "You are not―abominable. What world is it that dares treat you so?"
His muscles jumped still higher in his shoulders, as if his hands were locked on the throat of some tormenting demon. "It's real. That is reality. Fact. The kind of thing that kills you if you don't believe it." With a gesture of rejection toward the river, he gasped,
"This is a nightmare."
Lena flared with sudden courage. "I do not believe it. It may be that your world―but the Land―ah, the Land is real."
Covenant's back clenched abruptly still, and he said with preternatural quietness, "Are you trying to drive me crazy?"
Mhoram came forward quickly, stretched out a restraining hand. "Softly, Covenant," he said. "What is wrong? We are guests."
But even while he protested, Covenant knew that Atiaran had not been wrong. He had seen himself kill at the battle of Soaring Woodhelven, and had thought in his folly that being a killer was something new for him, something unprecedented. But it was not something he had recently become; he had been that way from the beginning of the dream, from the beginning. In an intuitive leap, he saw that there was no difference between what the ur-viles had done to the Wraiths and what he had done to Lena. He had been serving Lord Foul since his first day in the Land.
"No!" he spat as if he were boiling in acid. "No, I won't do it anymore. I'm not going to be the victim anymore. I will not be waited on by children." He shook with the ague of his rage as he cried at himself, You raped her! You stinking bloody bastard! He felt as weak as if the understanding of what he had done corroded his bones.
Mhoram said intently, "Unbeliever! What is wrong?"
"Who are you?" Manethrall Lithe hissed through taut lips. With a quick shake of her head, a flick of her wrist, she pulled the cord from her hair and held it battle-ready. Prothall caught her arm. His old voice rattled with authority and supplication.
"Forgive, Manethrall. This matter is beyond you. He holds the wild magic that destroys peace. We must forgive."
"Forgive?" Covenant tried to shout. His legs failed under him, but he did not fall.
Bannor held him erect from behind. "You can't forgive."
I've given many friends of mine the TC novels to read, and some of them gave me Lord Foul's Bane back after TC rapes Lena, saying that they will not read a story where the main character is a rapist. What would you say to people who want to quit reading at that point of the story?
I'm always saddened to hear that someone has quit reading when, say, Covenant rapes Lena, or Angus brutalizes Morn. I certainly understand such a reaction. When I get the chance, I say several things. 1) I write about tormented characters because no one else could possibly *need* the story as badly as they do--and it is in the nature of tormented characters to do tormented things. 2) If you quit reading, you'll never find out *why* I wrote what I did. If you do go on, you'll discover that what I did is not gratuitious; that, in fact, the whole subsequent story is about the terrible consequences of such violence. 3) Terrible things happen in the real world all the time. God knows they happen to me. If I'm not willing to write about those things, I pretty much have to give up my claim on being a serious writer.
I've been known to say other things as well, but only when I get really worked up.
I'm in the first part of "Lord Foul's Bane" (which I have been completely enjoying) and have come to the part where Thomas rapes Lena, the young woman who saves his life. He is now about to set off on his journey led by her mother Atiaran (upon whose wisdom and experience I assume he will be dependent). Before I decide what I will do with the remaining 5 books, it would be helpful to me if you would tell me if Thomas recognizes his violent betrayal of Lena beyond his sense that Lena "purchased precious time for him" (in not speaking of her violation). "Clearly the people of this Land were prepared to make sacrifices --". Does he return to her and make restitution?
I would like to assure you earnestly that during the course of the first "Covenant" trilogy he has his nose rubbed deeply in the consequences of his crime against Lena, that he learns to understand just how vile his actions have been, and that he does put his feet on the road to redemption.
The author may not be the ideal person to respond to your concerns, feeling (as he does) a fairly natural human desire to justify himself. You might get more useful answers from fellow readers. May I suggest that you post your concerns on kevinswatch.com? The good people there will give you honest reactions from a wide variety of perspectives.
How to list series was a big topic of debate among our judges. In general, works that tell a more or less continuous story are listed collectively (e.g., "The Song of Ice and Fire"). In cases where connections among series members are looser, we tended to list some of the more prominent titles in the run (e.g., Small Gods, a "Discworld" novel). If you don't see your favorite series listed as such, try looking for individual novels.
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