Those real-people reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have difficulty finding themes in The Gap Cycle; imagining a more clueless lot is difficult for me. At the end of The Real Story Stephen R. Donaldson summarized his intent, his themes and—in broad strokes—outlined the story he prepared. The Gap Cycle is not an attempt to mimic the Wagnerian epic of Der Ring des Nibelungen, but it is about the moral conflict between humanity’s desire to survive as an individual or as a group. From The Real Story:
My original intentions were explicitly archetypal. What I had in mind was an aesthetically perfect variation on the basic three-sided story: the story in which a Victim (Morn), a Villain (Angus), and a Rescuer (Nick) all change roles. (This, incidentally, is the essential difference between melodrama and drama. Melodrama presents a Victim, a Villain, and a Rescuer.)
But that was not the real story, that intent needed to conflict with another, earlier desire of Donaldson's:
My intentions were conceptual rather than literal. I wasn’t interested in simply retelling the story of Wotan’s doomed struggle to preserve the power of the gods in the face of pressure from giants, dwarves, and humankind. Rather I wanted to create an analogue which would allow me to explore the same themes and exigencies on my own terms. Most particularly, I was fascinated by Wotan himself, who finds that an understanding of his own power leads to the destruction of that power, as well as of himself and everything he represents; even more, that an understanding of his power leads him to will his own destruction.