Welcome to this new recurring topic PageTurner, where I will be reviewing books (and in some cases book series). I mainly read fantasy, preferably with a touch of romance (in other words some love plot, but not too gooey and corny) and a well defined world and mythology. First up is The Runelords Series by David Farland [Official Website].
The complete series is supposed to be ten books long with the first four books forming the story of the Earth King, Gaborn, and the remaining six books about his son, Fallion. The sixth book has just come out in hardcover and I read the fifth book last month, but I’ll be only covering the first four books here. The plot and characters are significantly different, so it’s better to split it up. In the future though I will review the newer books; I just don’t want to start with my reviews in the middle of a series.
The series begins with Gaborn Val Orden, a young Runelord and a prince of Mystarria, seeking the hand of Princess Iome Sylvarresta, the daughter of the King of Heredon. Both nations are part of the kingdom of Rofehaven, a peaceful medieval-like land. While traveling from Mystarria to Heredon, the prince’s party learns that Raj Ahten, the most powerful Runelord in existence, is leading his army into Heredon, his first step of invading all of Rofehaven. Raj Ahten has already conquered all the nations of the neighbouring Indhopal and Gaborn realizes he must be stopped at all costs. Along the way though, Gaborn and his companions find out that Raj Ahten is not the only threat – their world is threatened by a race of resilient subterranean creatures: the Reavers.
The Runelords contains one of the most original and creative forms of magic and powers I’ve ever seen. Everything is based on “endowments”, a magical transfer of a sense or an attribute from one person to another. The transferred sense or skill is amplified in the receiver, the Runelord, while the giver, the Dedicate, looses it completely until the death of one or the other. For instance, if someone gave you an endowment of sight, you would be able to see twice as far, but you would leave the other person blind. If that person dies though, you loose the double sight. If you die, the Dedicate receives his sight back again.
The transfer is done through a magical ritual of branding, leaving runes on the skin (hence the name Runelords). Besides sight, endowments can be given for voice, smell, hearing, touch, brawn, grace, stamina, wit, metabolism and glamour. The weirdest is metabolism which slows down the world for the receiver, granting him increased physical speed. It also reduces your lifespan though, cause you’re living your life twice as fast.
Most kings and warriors in this world are Runelords, all receiving their strengths from Dedicates. This creates a complete new type of context for ethics, social hierarchy and battle strategy, producing a wonderful different world.
These books can not be missed from any fantasy lover’s library. Besides a refreshing original world, the story flows smoothly from one chapter till the next. The characters are likable and you can easily imagine yourself reacting the same way in some situations they are in. This was one of those book series I couldn’t put down, reading all four books in one weekend. At the time though I thought that the fourth book was the end of the series. Thinking this, the last book felt very incomplete. Farland raises certain questions and at the end of the fourth book they are still not answered. Knowing though that these four books are only the start and that the world will be revisited in subsequent books, I am sure these loose ends will be tied up in the future. All in all, it’s a great read that can’t be missed.
Take a look at the books on Amazon: