The Gap Into Conflict: The Real Story

The Gap Into Conflict: The Real Story is not a book for kids. It’s full of murder, rape, violence, and language that would make a (space) pirate blush.  Rape seems to be a common theme in Stephen R. Donaldson‘s more popular works:  The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and The Gap Series.  I’ve not yet determined what this indicates about the author’s personality (if anything) but this disturbing theme jumped out at me very early in the reading of both.

I’ve had this one on my shelf for years…and have been meaning to read it for years. Donaldson weaves a fairly simple story populated with three complex characters.

Angus Thermopyle:  One of the most despicable pieces of antagonist trash I’ve had the pleasure to share a story with. Angus is the type of character that you can’t ignore as much as you’d like to.  He’s a train wreck of a character, one you can’t tear your eyes away from.  He’s so repulsive, banal and deprived that you wish him dead almost from the instant he is introduced.  But, he’s also the type of villain you would be sad to see depart from the story.  That’s what makes him such a fascinating and compelling character.

Morn Hyland:  She’s a beautiful ensign in the United Mining Companies Police who is captured by, held captive by, mind controlled by (via illegal implant), repeatedly raped by, and eventually impregnated by…one previously mentioned Thermopyle.  She also blew up her entire family and her father is slaughtered by Thermopyle. So she has some issues…

Nick Succorso:  Isn’t that a great pirate name?  Swashbuckling hero or rogue pirate?  Hard to say after this first book since it focused mainly on Angus and Morn, but my guess is rogue.  Nick has his own agendas and is also a pirate, just not as disgusting as Thermopyle.

The Real Story by Stephen R. Donaldson

“Angus Thermopyle is one of the most despicable piece of antagonist trash I’ve had the pleasure to share a story with.”

The story cycles through the classical archetypal roles of villain, victim and hero.  At the onset the roles are quite clear.  Thermopyle is the villain   Hyland is the victim.  And Succorso is the hero.  But as the story (and series) progress the roles become a bit fuzzy and eventually your realize that Thermopyle may actually have become the victim…at which point you feel even more disgusted that you are having thoughts of pity for the character.

There’s not a lot of dialogue in this book. The first actual exchange of dialogue didn’t happen until 60 pages in. Donaldson weaves a tale based almost entirely on narrative prose. After reading this book, and a small section of the next, it seems as if he wrote this as a bit of whimsy then decided to build on it afterwards. The Real Story does a good job of introducing us to the three complex characters as we embark on this series.

So far the series is holding my interest mainly because of the twists and turns . . . and Angus.

The Gap Into Conflict:  The Real Story by Stephen R. Donaldson
Genre:  Science Fiction
Year:  1991
4 out of 5 stars

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