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Berek Halfhand is a historical character, with legend saying that he would one day return to the Land. He was a 'half-hand' like Thomas Covenant, missing two fingers. Due to this similarity, Covenant's appearance is interpreted as Berek's return to the Land.
Berek lived during the Era of the King and Queen and was the strongest and wisest of the Queen's champions. Berek continued fighting after the Queen's armies fell; he was the only one left who had a hatred for the grey shadow that had come from the east to cause the King's armies to grow hateful themselves. The King eventually fought Berek single handedly. The grey shadow caused Berek's blade to turn aside and the King cleft his hand.
Berek fled, running for three days till he arrived at Mount Thunder. The mountain spoke to him, asking him to pledge himself to the healing of the Earth. He did so, and the Fire-Lions rode down the mountain, destroying the King and his armies.