Stephen R. Donaldson


Stephen Reeder Donaldson (born May 13, 1947, in Cleveland) is an American fantasy, science fiction and mystery novelist. His works are noted for their use of complicated and often obscure language, a strong focus on characterization, and epic themes tied to a humanist world view.

Stephen R. Donaldson in 2007

Quotes edit

The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever edit

Lord Foul's Bane (1977) edit

All page numbers are from the mass market paperback edition published by Del Rey, ISBN 0-345-34865-6, October 2004, 52nd printing
  • “One word more,” Foul said, “a final caution: Do not forget whom to fear at the last. I have had to be content with killing and torment. But now my plans are laid, and I have begun. I shall not rest until I have eradicated hope from the Earth. Think on that, and be dismayed!”
    • Chapter 3, “Invitation to a Betrayal” (p. 37)
  • In war men pass like shadows that stain the grass,
    Leaving their lives upon the green:
    While Earth bewails the crimson sheen,
    Men’s dreams and stars and whispers all helpless pass.
    • Chapter 6, “Legend of Berek Halfhand” (p. 78)
  • It was clear to all there gathered that power is a dreadful thing, and that knowledge of power dims the seeing of the wise.
    • Chapter 8, “The Dawn of the Message” (p. 104)
  • In accepting a gift you honor the giver.
    • Chapter 10, “The Celebration of Spring” (p. 143 and often)
  • “Why? Why do you trust me?”
    The Hirebrand’s eyes gleamed as if he were on the verge of tears, but he was smiling as he said, “You are a man who knows the value of beauty.”
    • Chapter 10, “The Celebration of Spring” (p. 147)
  • Foamfollower’s question caught him wandering. “Are you a storyteller, Thomas Covenant?”
    Absently, he replied, “I was, once.”
    “And you gave it up? Ah, that is as sad a tale in three words as any you might have told me. But a life without a tale is like a sea without salt. How do you live?”…
    “I live.”
    “Another?” Foamfollower returned. “In two words, a story sadder than the first. Say no more—with one word you will make me weep.”
    • Chapter 11, “The Unhomed” (p. 182; ellipsis represents elision of a brief descriptive passage)
  • A good laugh, Covenant sighed morosely. Did I do a whole life’s laughing in that little time?
    • Chapter 11, “The Unhomed” (p. 183)
  • I admit the desire. But do not tempt me. Power has a way of revenging itself upon its usurpers.
    • Chapter 12, “Revelstone” (p. 197)
  • “We have searched the seas, and have waited for the omens to come to pass.” Foamfollower paused to look thoughtfully at Covenant, then went on: “Ah, my Lords, omening is curious. So much is said—and so little made clear.”
    • Chapter 14, “The Council of Lords” (p. 241)
  • “Go to hell,” Covenant mumbled. “Don’t you ever sleep?”
    “The Bloodguard do not sleep.”
    “No Bloodguard has slept since the Haruchai swore their Vow.”
    With an effort, Covenant pulled himself into a sitting position. He peered blearily at Bannor for a moment, then muttered, “You’re already in hell.”
    • Chapter 15, “The Great Challenge” (p. 274)
  • Ah, it is hard to take pride in human history.
    • Chapter 18, “The Plains of Ra” (p. 346)
  • Dreams—never forgive.
    • Chapter 19, “Ringthane’s Choice” (p. 376)
  • “That was a joke. Or a metaphor.” Covenant made another effort to turn his sarcasm into humor. “I can never tell the difference.”
    • Chapter 20, “A Question of Hope” (p. 378)
  • All you need to avoid despair is irremediable stupidity or unlimited stubbornness.
    • Chapter 20, “A Question of Hope” (p. 386)
  • Don’t talk like a damned mystic. Say something I can understand.
    • Chapter 20, “A Question of Hope” (p. 386)
  • It may be that hope misleads. But hate—hate corrupts. I have been too quick to hate. I become like what I abhor.
    • Chapter 21, “Treacher’s Gorge” (p. 408)

The Illearth War (1977) edit

All page numbers are from the mass market paperback edition published by Del Rey, ISBN 0-345-34866-4, September 1978, 42nd printing
  • I would say that happiness lies in serving the Land. And I would say that there is no happiness in times of war.
    • Chapter 9, “Glimmermere” (p. 146)
  • Do not hurt where holding is enough;
    do not wound where hurting is enough;
    do not maim where wounding is enough;
    and kill not where maiming is enough;
    the greatest warrior is he who does not need to kill.
    • Chapter 10, “Seer and Oracle” (p. 154)
  • War puts burdens on people without caring whether they are ready for them or not.
    • Chapter 11, “War Council” (p. 180)
  • Power is power. Its uses are in the hands of the user.
    • Chapter 15, “Revelwood” (p. 251)
  • I have no special virtue to make me resent him. One must have strength in order to judge the weakness of others. I am not so mighty.
    • Chapter 16, “Forced March” (p. 264)
  • No one person has the right to withhold knowledge from another. No one is wise enough.
    • Chapter 18, “Doom’s Retreat” (p. 334)
  • I was trying to give her something, make it up to her somehow. But that doesn’t work. When you’ve hurt someone that badly, you can’t go around giving them gifts. That’s arrogant and cruel.
    • Chapter 21, “Lena’s Daughter” (p. 407)
  • “That’s madness!” Covenant gasped thickly. Elena’s gaze wavered on the edge of focus, and he could not bear to look at her. “Do you think that some existence after death is going to vindicate you after you’ve simply extirpated life from the earth? That was exactly Kevin’s mistake. I tell you, he is roasting in hell!”
    • Chapter 21, “Lena’s Daughter” (p. 412)
  • If it’s all the same to you, I’d rather hear something that makes sense.
    • Chapter 22, “Anundivian Yajña” (p. 425)
  • Dreaming is like—it’s like being a slave. Your dreams come out of all the parts of you that you don’t have any control over.
    • Chapter 23, “Knowledge” (p. 439)
  • The prevailing breeze from the Forest blew into his face, and for the first time in many days he was able to distinguish the tang of the season. He found that the autumn of the Land had turned its corner, traveled its annual round from joy to sorrow. The air no longer gleamed with abundance and fruition, with ripeness either glad or grim. Now the breeze tasted like the leading edge of winter—a sere augury, promising long nights and barrenness and cold.
    • Chapter 24, “Descent to Earthroot” (p. 459)
  • You know, where I come from, the people who did this to a forest would be called pioneers—a very special breed of heroes, since instead of killing other human beings they concentrate on slaughtering nature itself.
    • Chapter 24, “Descent to Earthroot” (p. 460)
  • I loved you before that. I love you now. I’m just an unconscionable bastard, and I used you, that’s all. Now I regret it.
    • Chapter 25, “The Seventh Ward” (p. 494)

The Power that Preserves (1977) edit

All page numbers are from the mass market paperback edition published by Del Rey, ISBN 0-345-34867-2, 43rd printing
  • Power was dreadful and treacherous. When it was not great enough to accomplish its wielder’s desires, it turned against the hands which held it.
    • Chapter 2, “Variol-Son” (p. 30)
  • Yet this withholding of knowledge ran against every grain of his character. He believed intensely that the refusal to share knowledge demeaned both the denier and the denied.
    • Chapter 2, “Variol-Son” (p. 30)
  • She said that it is the responsibility of the living to justify the sacrifices of the dead. Otherwise their deaths have no meaning.
    • Chapter 2, “Variol-Son” (p. 42)
  • Abruptly Loerya joined the probing. “And if there is no Creator? Or if the creation is untended?”
    “Then who is there to reproach us? We provide the meaning of our own lives. If we serve the Land purely to the furthest limit of our abilities, what more can we ask of ourselves?”
    • Chapter 2, “Variol-Son” (p. 48)
  • He no longer accused himself; he knew then that no one could be blamed for being inadequate in the face of such unanswerable malevolence. Destruction was easier than preservation, and when destruction had risen high enough, mere men and women could not be condemned if they failed to throw back the tide.
    • Chapter 11, “The Ritual of Desecration” (p. 229)
  • It was gray cold and dead from horizon to horizon under the gray dead clouds—not the soft comfortable gray of twilit illusions, of unstark colors blurring like consolation or complacency into each other, but rather the gray of disconsolation and dismay, paradoxically dull and raw, numb and poignant, a gray like the ashen remains of color and sap and blood and bone. Gray wind drove gray cold over the gray frozen hills; gray snow gathered in this drifts under the lees of the gray terrain; gray ice underscored the black, brittle, leafless branches of the trees barely visible in the distance on his left, and stifled the gray, miserable current of the river almost out of sight on his right; gray numbness clutched at his flesh and soul.
    • Chapter 12, “Amanibhavam” (p. 270)
  • I rest and rest, but I do not become young.
    • Chapter 13, “The Healer” (p. 286)
  • The task was impossible, and mortal human beings accomplished nothing but their own destruction when they attempted the impossible.
    • Chapter 14, “Only Those Who Hate” (p. 297)
  • You did not cause his despair. Had you treated him with distrust, you would have achieved nothing but the confirmation of his distress. Distrust—vindicates itself.
    • Chapter 15, “Lord Mhoram’s Victory” (p. 321)
  • “Then why do you delay? Why do you fear?”
    Because I am mortal, weak. The way is only clear—not sure. In my time, I have been a seer and oracle. Now I—I desire a sign. I require to see.”
    • Chapter 15, “Lord Mhoram’s Victory” (p. 342)
  • The bluff stone of the tower, with Revelstone rising behind it like the prow of a great ship, answered his gaze in granite permanence as if it were a prophecy by the old Giants—a cryptic perception that victory and defeat were human terms which had no meaning in the language of mountains.
    • Chapter 15, “Lord Mhoram’s Victory” (p. 344)
  • “Are you so ashamed of what you were?”
    Bannon cocked a white eyebrow at the question, as if it came close to the truth. “I am not shamed,” he said distinctly. “But I am saddened that so many centuries were required to teach us the limits of our worth. We went too far, in pride and folly. Mortal men should not give up wives and sleep and death for any service—less the face of failure become too abhorrent to be endured.”
    • Chapter 17, “The Spoiled Plains” (p. 387)
  • Retribution—ah, my friend, retribution is the sweetest of all sweet dark dreams.
    • Chapter 17, “The Spoiled Plains” (p. 392)
  • Then he grinned. “But it is said that hunger teaches many things. My friend, a wealth of wisdom awaits us on this journey.”
    • Chapter 17, “The Spoiled Plains” (p. 394)
  • “Are you wise, Unbeliever?”
    “Who knows? If I am—wisdom is overrated.”
    • Chapter 17, “The Spoiled Plains” (p. 394)
  • Verily, wisdom is like hunger. Perhaps it is a very fine thing—but who would willingly partake of it?
    • Chapter 17, “The Spoiled Plains” (p. 394)
  • “We will soon know.”
    “Yes, indeed,” Covenant muttered. “Only I hate surprises. You never know when one of them is going to ruin your life.”
    • Chapter 19, “Ridjeck Thome” (p. 438)
  • The answer to death was to make use of it rather than fall victim to it—master it by making it serve his goals, beliefs. This was not a good answer. But it was the only answer he had.
    • Chapter 20, “The Unbeliever” (p. 468)
  • Do not be too quick to judge the makers of worlds. Will you ever write a story for which no character will have caused to reproach you?
    • Chapter 21, “Leper’s End” (p. 473)
  • “I’ll tell you what it is. It’s a goddam miracle, that’s what it is.”
    “Come, now,” the older man murmured. “I don’t believe in miracles—neither do you.”
    • Chapter 21, “Leper’s End” (p. 479)
  • He smiled because he was alive.
    • Chapter 21, “Leper’s End” (p. 480; last line)

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