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Book Review: The RuneLords – The Sum Of All Men

February 3, 2022

I have a confession to make. I’m biased. (Actually, EVERY writer is biased. But, we like to pretend we are evenhanded.) I couldn’t do it with this book. David Farland was my friend. He was also my mentor. He is a big part of whatever measure of success I manage to acquire as a writer. I started reading this book a couple of months ago. I thought it was time I read my friend’s most famous series. (Spoiler alert, there are eight volumes in this series. You’ve been warned.)

And then, three weeks ago my friend fell on the stairs in his home. His family rushed him to the hospital, but he never woke up and quietly slipped the bonds of this world.

I was devastated. Dave and I have been friends for over thirty years. He was not only a brilliant writer, but an inspired teacher. And I was in his writing group. We all got the advantage of his mentorship.

I’m still not totally over it.

But, although Dave was gone, I found I could still have a conversation with him. Well, I could if I was willing to listen and let him talk. It’s as if I said, “Dave, how about telling me a story?” And he took me on a magical journey that was RuneLords – Sum of All Men.

The book is set in a magical land. The central character, Gaborn is a prince in love with the Princess Iome. But, an invading army gets in the way of their courtship and Gaborn has to run for his life from the attacking Raj Ahten.

The title “Runelords” comes from the in-universe ability of people to give away a part of themselves; grace, stamina, strength, metabolism, sight, voice, hearing. Runelords are those who are the receivers of these endowments. Someone with a extra measure of sight can see better. Gift of voice means you can speak louder and more convincingly. The more endowments you have the more of that trait you exhibit.

Anyone can take endowments. RuneLords are those that have multiple. Endowments can be given, sold or taken.

RuneLords is more than endowments, of course. Dave creates an entire universe. It not only has magic, it has history, politics, haunted forests, magicians, mythical creatures. He creates an entire world that lives and breathes. They title, Sum of All Men relates to the Raj Ahten’s attempt to turn himself into a mythical powerful person.

What I Liked

The world is well developed. The story moved at a brisk and at times breakneck pace. Dave introduces twists and turns. At times I was certain of how the story would go, and then Dave took it in a differenct direction. The characters are sympathetic. Even the villians and the morally ambiguous ones have a purpose.

What I Didn’T

Sum Of All Men is the first of an 8 book series. Parts of book 1 feel unanswered. And while endowments are well explained, at times the story seemed too extreme. Raj Ahten is described as having thousands of endowments. So many that he cannot be killed. And yet, certain endowments incapacitate the giver. Dave addresses the need to care of these people, but even our modern medical system would have trouble caring for literally thousands of invalids.

What It Means To You

It’s not a light thing to starting a new series. But, if you are going to start a new fantasy series, RuneLords is a great choice. The books are written for adults, but suitable for any age.

My Rating

Four out of four stars

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany II, an anthology including his latest short story, “The Mercy System” here

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or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2022 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

From → Book Reviews

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