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This is, by its nature, a question about reader responses. I am trying to get an understanding for how readers have reacted to certain elements in Stephen R. Donaldson's fantasy writing. As such, there may not be a definitive correct answer. Donaldson was hugely popular in the late 1970s and 1980s; in Realms of Fantasy, a beautifully illustrated coffee table book about various fantasy worlds, he was described as having the greatest success of any of the various epic fantasy writers that had followed on Tolkien's heels. [The book's analysis proved to be not particularly useful, as the time of its publication (1988) corresponded to the beginning of an explosion in the mediocre but heavily read fantasy book market.]

In a couple answers on this site, I have commented sarcastically on Donaldson's apparent fascinations with philosophical puzzles that his characters have to grapple with, in addition to their evil foes. He points this out himself in the introduction to Gilden Fire, a novella that was originally intended to be part of the The Illearth War but was cut for pacing reasons and because it possibly conflicted with the main philosophical puzzle of the original Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever: whether The Land was real or a figment of Covenant's imagination. In Donaldson's second series (Mordant's Need), the philosophical question is turned around; the puzzle is not whether the fantasy world is real, but whether the main character (and our universe, from whence she comes) was real or not. (I have not read Donaldson's other major series, the Gap novels; seeing hundreds of remaindered hardcover copies of Chaos and Order at Buck a Book convinced me it probably wasn't worth my time.)

My question is this: Did readers find the metaphysical questions Donaldson raised compelling? Or were they generally seen as a distraction from the story? How much of a record is there of reader response to this aspect of Donaldson's work?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Ward, Bellatrix, Möoz, Edlothiad, TheLethalCarrot Mar 22 '18 at 8:56

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    You've been on this site for more than long enough to know that this sort of question is off-topic. Per the FAQ "To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where … there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.” – Valorum Feb 17 '18 at 23:34
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    @Randal'Thor - No. This is explicitly covered in the FAQ and on-topic question description. "I feel like x, do other people agree? is not on-topic unless you can demonstrate at least some degree of notability. If you reworded the question as "Did he ever speak about what reaction he wanted from fans" (for example) then that would be perfectly acceptable. – Valorum Feb 17 '18 at 23:51
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    @Valorum Where does it say in the FAQ that one can't ask about how fans actually reacted (as opposed to how an author expected/wanted them to react)? Cf. this very well-received question about reader - or in that case watcher - response to a specific work of sci-fi. – Rand al'Thor Feb 17 '18 at 23:59
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    @Valorum I think the personal angle is irrelevant to the real question here, and included only as motivation for why the OP asked it. Surely the essential question is "how did readers in general react to X?" Does it really matter that this happens to equate to "did other readers react to X in the same way I did"? – Rand al'Thor Feb 18 '18 at 0:28
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    Related meta post. – Rand al'Thor Mar 20 '18 at 22:43