The Names of the Despiser

Justin Fike '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2003

Lord Foul's Bane tells the story of Thomas Covenant, a leper and outcast who suddenly finds himself in very unfamiliar surroundings. Pulled from his world seconds before being hit by a speeding car, Covenant finds himself instantly confronted with a great, powerful evil. The powerful voice offers him life and the health he craves, offers to spare him from "the Doom that my Enemy has created for you" (p.35) at the price of Thomas' surrender and worship.

Whatever health you lack, only pray to me while I am still patient. But the voice's contempt cut too deep. . .with his teeth gritted to stop his trembling, he asked, "Who are you?". As if sensing its mistake, the voice became smoother. "I have had many names," it said. "To the Lords of Revelstone, I am Lord Foul the Despiser; to the Giants of Seareach, Satansheart and Soulcrusher. The Ramen name me Fangthane. In the dreams of the Bloodgaurd, I am Corruption. But the people of the Land call me the Gray Slayer." [p.35]

In response to this long and intimidating list of titles, Covenant simply replies, "Forget it."

Questions

1. What is the effect of allowing the force of Evil to introduce himself, rather than being described by his enemies?

2. Why did Donaldson choose the name Satansbreath when all of the other names were unrelated to our world? What effect does it have on our perceptions as readers, either negatively or positively?

3. Why would Donaldson choose to make Covenant's first introduction to this new world be one of evil, danger, and temptation?

4. Is Donaldson intentionally attempting to create a setting similar to the Biblical story of the temptation of Jesus, or is the similarity unintended? If so, what is he attempting to accomplish through the connection?

References

Donaldson, Stephen R. Lord Foul's Bane. Part I of The Chronicles of Thomas Coveant the Unbeliever. New York: Ballantine Books, 1977.


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Last modified 20 April 2004