Or, An audiobook narrator flagellates himself for taking so damn long getting The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever on audio
May 1st, 2008. Mean anything to you? Maybe not, maybe it’s nothing more than any other Thursday, maybe you can’t think of a single reason to put a red X on that date in your calendar. But believe me, I can. It’s a huge day in the Brick household, my friends, a day I’ve hoped for lo these last 25 years, a day I’ve worked toward daily for almost a year now. It’s the day THE CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT become available on audio. That’s right: both Part One, LORD FOUL’S BANE and the…Keep Reading
May 1st, 2008. Mean anything to you? Maybe not, maybe it’s nothing more than any other Thursday, maybe you can’t think of a single reason to put a red X on that date in your calendar. But believe me, I can. It’s a huge day in the Brick household, my friends, a day I’ve hoped for lo these last 25 years, a day I’ve worked toward daily for almost a year now.
It’s the day THE CHRONICLES OF THOMAS COVENANT become available on audio. That’s right: both Part One, LORD FOUL’S BANE and the latest installment, Part Eight, FATAL REVENANT, are now audiobooks from Brick by Brick audio. (There will be a slight pause while Stephen R. Donaldsonfans rejoice, and while I catch my breath. It’s been a lot of work.)
Click here to go to the Store to purchase and download LORD FOUL’S BANE right now. LORD FOUL’S BANE is EXCLUSIVE to ScottBrickPresents right now, you can’t get it anywhere else!
I first read this series back in college. I’ll never forget the day I spent studying for finals my freshman year in UCLA’s University Research Library. I had a huge dilemma on my hands: study for the Theater History class I was so woefully unprepared for, or learn Covenant’s fate at the end of LORD FOUL’S BANE.
Wasn’t much of a choice. I sacrificed my grades that quarter, because the idea of living with the anxiety of not knowing what happened to the Quest for the Staff of Law just didn’t seem plausible
I’ve never regretted my decision.
I learned a funny thing about those books: they sit with you long after the plots of most novels fade. A literature professor of mine once said the mark of a good fictional character is whether or not the readers spend time asking themselves, “I wonder what this character is doing now?” after they turn the final page. If that’s indeed the benchmark of literary success, then Donaldson succeeded wildly with Thomas Covenant. His dilemmas became my own, his ruminations on power and impotence resonated forcefully in my own relationships, unfortunately, and his bitter growl “Hellfire!” was never far from my mind when things went poorly in life.
I also learned I’m not alone in this. There are a TON of Covenant fans out there.
At first, I’d find them somewhat stealthily, unexpectedly. The first time was at a party when someone showed off a white gold ring (a major plot point in the Covenant saga). I mentioned the series to this person and was met with a questioning glance: have you read it, did you enjoy it, did the books resonate as much with you as they did with me, that look seemed to say. A nod, a narrowing of the eyes and a sly smile told me I’d just met a brother, a fellow member of an elite fraternity: someone who’d walked in Thomas Covenant’s shoes as I had.
Over the years, membership in that club expanded, and I found myself discussing its many virtues with acquaintances, girlfriends, even my mother got hooked on the series. There’s even a website devoted entirely to meeting other Covenant/Donaldson fanatics, Kevinswatch.com, a message board I recently (and proudly) joined. Yet with all the new members in the Covenant club I met, that sly feeling of exclusivity never faded; that feeling that you had participated in something huge, monumental; that you’d read something so painfully lovely that it felt wrong to refer to it as a mere BOOK.I feel it still, all these years later.
Of course now, the context has changed somewhat. Now, instead of being the casual reader, I’m what you’d call a PROFESSIONAL reader. I get to travel around the country and give talks, lectures, seminars and the like, sharing with people just what a cool job I have narrating audiobooks, and at these appearances I’m often asked to read a few pages of something, anything, to show the good folks what I do. And for years now, I almost always read a page from LORD FOUL’S BANE, my favorite selection from the entire series, in fact: page 182, where Covenant and the giant Saltheart Foamfollower sail upriver to Revelstone. Foamfollower asks a simple question about storytelling, which inspires an exchange that’s both heart wrenching and lyrical. (Right-click here to download an MP3 where Scott reads his favorite page). Whenever I read this, people always ask me, “Where can I get that, it’s so beautiful, where can I read the whole book?”
The first time this happened was a few years back at a lobster bake inMaine put on by the publisher of AudioFile Magazine. I was asked to read a few pages, so, since I was narrating RUNES OF THE EARTH for Penguin at the time, that being the seventh Covenant book and the first one I’d ever done professionally, I thought for nostalgia’s sake I’d trot out something from the first volume. Well, author Ben Cheever was there that day – Ben is the son of John Cheever, and author of THE PLAGARIST, as well as the editor of the recent LETTERS OF JOHN CHEEVER – and he came up to me afterward and said, “You’re recording that right now?” No, I told him, I’m doing part seven in the series at the moment; this is from part one. “Well, where can I get parts one through six?” Cheever asked. “I’ll buy them right now.”
That was the first time I ever considered doing what I did: optioning the entire series, and filling in all the volumes. Next time I see Cheever, I’m buying him a beer. And giving him complimentary copies.
Because you see, this is the definition of a labor of love. Recording these books doesn’t even seem like work to me. All I can think about is someone experiencing this story for the first time and being blessed by it as I was.That’s enough to make me forget about the long hours and the stifling heat of my non-air-conditioned studio. And getting to work with an author as generous as Stephen R. Donaldson, all to make sure that the pronunciations of this complex language and culture are accurate, is a fan’s dream come true. Stephen has spent hours on the phone, going through an ever-expanding glossary of terms that, by the end of the latest volume, ran to 593 entries. That’s nearly a hundred more than DUNE, folks.
Well, as SPINAL TAP’s good friend Marty DiBergi once said, “Hey, enough of my yakkin’!” It’s been a great deal of fun planning and presenting this gift, and now it’s ready. Off come the wrappings, off comes the tag that says “Do not open ‘til May 1st”, out comes the card. To you, from me. Here is the first installment in the Thomas Covenant saga, LORD FOUL’S BANE, followed very shortly by the eighth and latest novel in the series, FATAL REVENANT, by Stephen R. Donaldson. Plans are to record the intervening titles at six month intervals, all of them ultimately becoming available by the time Donaldson finishes the series with Part Ten.
I hope you enjoy listening to LORD FOUL’S BANE and FATAL REVENANT as much as I did reading them, the first time for myself and now for you. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.
Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s been a bit hectic getting all the last-minute details ironed out, so I’m going to go be unconscious for a while.
Thanks for listening,