In the book series The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, there is a clear time discrepancy between the Land's time and our Earth time.

The Land's moves a much faster pace relative to our Earth time.

Roughly, between the first and second time Covenant is called to the Land,

forty years have passed in the latter (The Illearth War, chapter 3 "The Summoning"), whereas our Earth time was roughly by my calculations from chapters 1 & 2 of the same book 38 days. That makes roughly 1.05 years per day (40 years / 38 days = 1.05), though the day count could be off slightly.

But there are other places of possible time correlation (specifically Book 3, The Power that Preserves) and the question here is whether (1) any book reveals the exact time relationship (whether by statement or more clearly correlated timing to calculate), or (2) any official statement from the author reveals his view of the time relationship?

Please note:

While Covenant in the first series is unclear whether the Land is merely a dream or not, that is made certain in later books.

So I expect an answer to not rely on the ambiguity of Covenant's viewpoint, but on the fact of what has been revealed about the Land that would indicate some fixed relation exists.

  • 2
    What makes you think there is an exact time relationship between our world and the Land? In Narnia, for example, there is no exact ratio and the difference in the flow of time can be quite arbitrary. (Still, +1: good to see more Covenant questions here of late!)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 6, 2017 at 22:10
  • @Randal'Thor: two things seem to indicate not (intended anyway) to be arbitrary. (1) The time relation (roughly) seems to match between Book 2 and Book 3. (2) Mhoram in Book 3 seems to understand roughly the time relationship on absolute terms when he refuses to attempt a second summoning so soon after the first that he attempted. But if something in the books points to a more arbitrary relation, I'm open to seeing the evidence for that.
    – ScottS
    Jan 6, 2017 at 22:43
  • 1
    Interview with Stephen Donaldson - some interesting stuff in there, but I couldn't find anything relevant to this question.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 6, 2017 at 22:47
  • 1
    Another possible location to find this information, is the Gradual Interview on the author's website. I swear I saw something on this topic in there years ago, but I cannot locate it now. Perhaps you'll have better luck.
    – Chris
    Sep 11, 2017 at 15:26
  • @Chris Just got around to researching that link, which proved fruitful in providing an answer.
    – ScottS
    Dec 20, 2017 at 22:21

1 Answer 1


Thanks to Chris's comment that led to the interviews, of which I just now got around to exploring and found the answer (over a year later our time, or in terms of the Land, as this answer will show, about 435 years).

My initial calculations in the question concluded

1 day = 1.05 years

which appears essentially correct, as Donaldson affirms from 11/7/2004:

The time ratio (1 day in Covenant's "real world" = 1 year in the Land) was built into the story from the beginning because I needed to be able to preserve the emotional continuity of what was happening to Covenant while still allowing enough time in the Land for important changes to take place.

He also gives a rough calculation between the first and second series earlier that year (2/25/2004):

Ten years passed in the "real" world (3500+ years in the Land)

This matches to a statement made in The Wounded Land, the first book of The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, page 81, when Covenant is talking to Avery and pondering the passage of time based on what he was told:

"Ten years in our world ... Time is different here. It's faster" ... The Despiser had said, For a score of centuries. For nearly as many centuries more. "If the ratio stays the same, we're talking about three or four thousand years."*

Assuming a couple of leap years, and for sake of argument an exact 10 year span on our earth for calculations, then

The 1 to 1 calculation is about 3,652 years passed in the Land, but a low end of 3,470 (for 9 1/2 years) to high end of 3,835 (for 10 1/2 years). My initial 1 to 1.05 for 10 years actually matches exactly the high end of 3,835. Any of these numbers qualifies as fitting Foul's "For a score of centuries. For nearly as many centuries more" statement, since a score (20) of centuries (100) = 2000 years + "nearly" as much again = under 4000 years.

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