The Seventh Decimate is the first book in Stephen R. Donaldson’s newest fantasy epic The Great God’s War. In somewhat typical form the first book is smaller, shorter. The War Within and The Killing God are larger, thicker books. The Killing God just arrived in the mail a few days ago.
I listened to a podcast featuring him when The Seventh Decimate first came out. If you don’t know, I’ve been a fan of Stephen Donaldson’s for many, many years. My brother got me hooked on Lord Foul’s Bane and the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I consider them required reading for any fantasy-ophile. Of course, those books are forty plus years old. The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant came out in the 2000s. Once again, my brother bought me The Runes of the Earth for Christmas the year it came out and I proceeded to read the four book series. Fatal Revenant, the second book in the series, was the best of the four in my opinion but I liked them all.
I have come to find that I like fantasy stories that observe the classic conventions of epic story-telling. They are large in scope. Spanning not only a wide swath of the earth but heaven and hell too. Also, the genre deals with difficult and complex human emotions. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever deals with difficult moral questions and a difficult and unlikeable protagonist.
I find I don’t enjoy fantasies with revenge-based plots. It’s a simple trope and not very satisfying for me. At least not as a driving factor for the motivation for a main character. I prefer an antagonist. A seemingly omnipotent force that dwarfs the human characters. Gods and Demons. Another part of the epic genre convention. Size and scope in people and places.