By David Farland
Synopsis: Gaborn Orden, the next King of Mystarria is headed to the kingdom of Heredon to ask the lovely Princess Iome for her hand in marriage. Castle Sylvarresta however is under attack by the evil Raj Ahten, the Runelord of all Runelords. With thousands of endowments taken from other men and women he is truly a man among men and takes over Castle Sylvarresta without a single drop of blood being shed. Gaborn however can see through this ruthless man. Endowed with the Gift of the Earth and deemed to be the future King who will seek revenge upon Raj Ahten Gaborn flees with the Princess and King Sylvarresta to beat Raj Ahten to the fotress where he has mistakenly hidden several thousand forcibles, the key to his power. With the power of the Earth behind him Gaborn must turn away from the lessons he was taught as a child in order to defeat the powers of evil and learns the lesson that all rulers must learn: Anyone can win a fortress, but few can win the hearts of his people.
"The Runelords" was a surprisingly good read. I did not have high hopes for it when I started it as the pace seemed to be dragging to an extent. It took quite a few chapters to get the feel of Farland's writing style and to keep the idea of the "Runelords" in mind. Basically the basic jist of a Runelord is that if one man is the "lord" he can take endowments or gifts from others to increase those powers in himself (ie I can endow you with my sense of sight and you will be able to see twice as well, but I will then be blind). However, if the person who gave the endowment (the dedicate) dies, the Runelord loses that power as it dies with the dedicate. If the Runelord dies the dedicate receives the endowment he/she gave back to their body. There are other rules and twists that apply to the "runes" and endowments that are given between dedicate and master and sometimes these things are hard to keep straight. It became easier and easier as the book went on however.
The idea is definitely original. I have never read about something even remotely similar to Farland's new theories of giving endowments to other characters. On the flip side however, Farland gives a lot of emphasis to elemental wizards, something that is tired and has a sort of "been there, done that" feeling it does not distract from the main theme of the book as these wizards are decently minor characters with the exception of the Wizard Binnesman who represents the Earth.
A few characters were under-developed in my opinion. I could have used more from the Wizard Binensman in terms of background, and Iome, though central to the plot is surprisingly shallow. She becomes less so as the book goes on, but it was still slightly annoying nonetheless.
All and all I liked "The Runelords"! I'm looking forward to the next in the series.
Â· Slow start
Â· Some characters not developed
Â· Overused "Elemental" wizards
Â· Original ideas for "endowments," creates an intriguing plot
Â· Very well written, had nice flow
Â· Great ending, makes you want to read the next book.
No major warnings for this book. Some blood, some violence, would classify as 12+ age group.
After a rocky first chapter or two, where it feels like the same old, same old (not that there's anything wrong with that), the Runelords really gets into its stride once the notion of /endowments/ is revealed: it's a very cool magic concept that adds plenty of flavour to what would otherwise be run-of-the-mill.
Instead, the tale becomes gripping, and having just consumed the first volume, I'm itching to devour the rest.
I really enjoyed this series and would recommend any of the books from it.
If you like fantasy, this is a must read. I could not put it down. I have loved the whole series!
developer of properties for the gaming industry and a science fiction author (Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia) under his real name, Dave Wolverton, Farland once again proves himself a wizard at storytelling in this third installment of his epic fantasy series, The Runelords. Against a medieval-like diorama, Farland has established a social system around the magical exchange of "endowments" from vassals to lords. A Runelord might have thousands of endowments, acquiring attributes (vision, strength, stamina, beauty, grace, wit) from willing donors, who become weakened Dedicates, crippled by the loss yet a Runelord must care for those who make his superhuman abilities possible. The Runelords: The Sum of All Men (1998) introduced Mystarrian prince Gaborn Val Orden, a Runelord who battled the powerfully endowed, near-invincible Wolf Lord Raj Ahten. With Gaborn newly crowned Earth King, defeated archvillain Ahten renewed his attacks in Brotherhood of the Wolf (2000). Now Ahten, Gaborn and Gaborn's wife, Iome, return to face the Reavers, huge monsters with "crystalline teeth like scythes" that pose a grim threat to Ahten's empire. In his role as "mankind's protector," Gaborn, despite dwindling powers, senses the impending doom of an all-out Reaver war, and Averan, a wizardborn girl with magical insights into Reaver consciousness, aids his hunt for the creature hordes. This latest is certain to summon past readers of the series back to bookstores.