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Book Review of The Runelords (The Runelords, Bk 1)

The Runelords  (The Runelords, Bk 1)
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From the Publisher
The first book of the saga of The Runelords

The very Earth is in pain. Its wounds must be healed. There must arise a new king: the Earth King must be reborn. Only then will humanity have a chance to survive.

From The Critics
Publishers Weekly
A 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. (Apr. 23) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

This new fantasy series features an unusual world where magic is used to drain willing (and not so willing) donors of various endowments such as beauty, strength, brawn, wit, sight, voice, and hearing. Hot branding irons with the appropriate rune are applied to the donor in an excruciatingly painful process. Once the "gift" has been extracted, the same iron is applied to the Runelord, but in this case it is a pleasurable, almost orgasmic experience. Once drained, the donors become helpless Dedicates who must be preserved and protected by their Runelord because their gifts can only be used while they are alive. When the novel opens, Prince Gaborn Val Orden of Mystarria is in love with princess Iome. Before Gaborn can court her, however, fate intervenes in the person of Raj Ahten, the Wolf Lord of Indhopal. Ahten invades with a force of thousands, including sixteen-foot-tall frost giants, ape-like nomen, and invincible warriors (each possessing numerous endowments). Ahten's own rune-covered body reveals that he has been the recipient of hundreds of endowments, and his goal is to become like the famed "Sum of All Men," conquering neighboring kingdoms and leading a united force against the deadly reavers who threaten their way of life. All that stands between Ahten and victory is the youthful Gaborn, the Earth King newly appointed by the wizard Binnesman. Gaborn was crowned by Erden Geboren himself, leader of the spirits of the Dunnwood, who comes with his spectral army to fight against the Wolf Lord's armies. This rich, complex page-turner features a likeable protagonist and a fascinating new fantasy world. There is a satisfying resolution, but with (thank heavens) plenty of room for more to come. Good cover art will attract teen readers and the text will certainly not disappoint them. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being better written, Broad general YA appeal, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12 and adults).

Library Journal
Prince Gaborn's visit to the Kingdom of Heredon becomes a frantic race against time as he seeks to warn Heredon's royal family of the approach of an invincible warlord whose might threatens to consume the world. Farland launches his epic series with a powerful story of a prince's transformation from a Runelord who steals his abilities from others to a ruler dedicated to the preservation of life. The author's inventive approach to magic and his skill at depicting complex, believable characters make this tale a good choice for most fantasy collections.