Below is a section of the third chapter of Lord Foul's Bane. It's what hooked me. A mixture of foreshadowing, including hints of some of the places and 'player's to come, not only in the first novel, but throughout the trilogy (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever).
The word choice, names, multiple titles--it just set the atmosphere for me. There were times the first novel proved hard to get through, especially as I was busy in college, but it really set up the rest of the trilogy well, and a read that I would argue rivals Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Anyway, here it is:
… “I have had many names,” the voice 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 Bloodguard, I am Corruption. But the people of the Land call me the Grey Slayer.” …
…“But I have wasted time enough. Now to my purpose. Heed me well, groveler. I have a task for you. You will bear a message for me to Revelstone—to the Council of Lords.
“Say to the Council of Lords and to High Lord Prothall, son of Dwillian, that the uttermost limit of their span of days upon the Land is seven times seven years from this present time. Before the end of those days are numbered, I will have the command of life and death in my hand. And as a token that what I say is the one word of truth, tell them this: Drool Rockworm, Cavewight of Mount Thunder, has found the Staff of Law, which was lost ten times a hundred years ago by Kevin at the Ritual of Desecration. Say to them that the task appointed to their generation is to regain the Staff. Without it, they will not be able to resist me for seven years, and my complete victory will be achieved six times seven years earlier than it would be else.
“As for you, groveler: do not fail with this message. If you do not bring it before the Council, then every human in the Land will be dead before ten seasons have passed. You do not understand—but I tell you Drool Rockworm has the Staff, and that is a cause for terror. He will be enthroned at Lord’s Keep in two years if the message fails. Already, the Cavewights are marching to his call; and wolves, and ur-viles of the Demondim, answer the power of the Staff. But war is not the worst peril. Drool delves ever deeper into the dark roots of Mount Thunder—Gravin Therndor, Peak of Fire-Lions. And there are banes buried in the deeps of the Earth too potent and terrible for any mortal to control. They would make of the universe a hell forever. But such a bane Drool seeks. He searches for the Illearth Stone. If he becomes its master, there will be woe for low and high alike until Time itself falls.
“Do not fail with my message, groveler. You have met Drool. Do you relish dying in his hands?”
The voice paused, and Covenant held his head in his arms, trying to silence the echo of Foul’s threats. This is a dream, he thought. A dream! But the blindness of the mist made him feel trapped, encapsulated in insanity. He shuddered with the force of his desire for escape and warmth. “Go away! Leave me alone!”
“One word more,” Foul said, “a final caution. Do not forget whom to fear at the last. I have had to be content with killing and torment. But now my plans are laid, and I have begun. I shall not rest until I have eradicated hope from the Earth. Think on that and be dismayed!”
Yes, I think Lord Foul makes a pretty good villain.