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Les Seigneurs des Runes - Tome 1

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Il existe un monde ancien où règne un étrange système de magie. Certains nobles peuvent s’approprier les Dons d’autres hommes : l’Intelligence, la Force, la Vue, l’Odorat, etc. Plus ils ont de Dons, plus ils sont puissants jusqu’à devenir des surhommes. On les appelle les Seigneurs des Runes. En contrepartie, ils s’engagent à assurer la subsistance de leurs Dédiés et de le Il existe un monde ancien où règne un étrange système de magie. Certains nobles peuvent s’approprier les Dons d’autres hommes : l’Intelligence, la Force, la Vue, l’Odorat, etc. Plus ils ont de Dons, plus ils sont puissants jusqu’à devenir des surhommes. On les appelle les Seigneurs des Runes. En contrepartie, ils s’engagent à assurer la subsistance de leurs Dédiés et de leur famille. Mais celui qu’on appelle le Seigneur-Loup s’est également octroyé les Dons de certains animaux et rêve de prendre le pouvoir absolu sur le royaume. Face à lui, le jeune prince Gaborn est peu armé pour lutter contre le Seigneur tout puissant. Lui qui ne rêve que d’amour et d’une vie paisible…

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30 review for Les Seigneurs des Runes - Tome 1

  1. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    A close approximation of the female lead. This has been a pretty good year for me for reading. I haven't come across that many real stinkers. I've found some new favorite books and authors, including Chuck Wendig, Ben Aaronovitch, and Guy Gavriel Kay. Lucky me. That said, I'm sad for myself that I spent time reading this. Thankfully I bought it at a used book store, so I think I'm only out about $1.75. A lot of people are intrigued by the magic system. "Oh it's so unique!" they cry. To that, I a A close approximation of the female lead. This has been a pretty good year for me for reading. I haven't come across that many real stinkers. I've found some new favorite books and authors, including Chuck Wendig, Ben Aaronovitch, and Guy Gavriel Kay. Lucky me. That said, I'm sad for myself that I spent time reading this. Thankfully I bought it at a used book store, so I think I'm only out about $1.75. A lot of people are intrigued by the magic system. "Oh it's so unique!" they cry. To that, I ask, "really?" Yes, it's a cool idea and all, but it's also sort of shitty. The idea is a subject will grant his/her leader or ruler "endowments" of their body, whether it is strength, wit, metabolism, or basically, anything from a D&D character sheet. The bad guy, Raj Ahten, extracts endowments from people unwillingly, and his character sheet is something like this: STR Modifier: 1,000 DEX Modifier: 1,000 CON Modifier: 1,200 WIS Modifier: 2,000 (way more than is necessary, and he even says so.) INT Modifier: 1,000 CHA Modifier: 14,000,000 (he feels pretty, and witty, and gaaay!) The crux to Raj Ahten is that he claims he's acquiring all these endowments in order to more ably fight humanity's enemies, the Reavers. But he's a Bad Guy because he takes endowments from prisoners and wants to rule everyone. Keep that in mind. The Hero, Gaborn's stats look a little more like this: STR Modifier: 10 DEX Modifier: 12 CON Modifier: 12 WIS Modifier: 8? Maybe? INT Modifier: 14 CHA Modifier: 4 (not so much) So he's more balanced. This is the fellow Farland chose to match up against Raj Ahten. Gaborn himself has taken some endowments himself, but not as many. This way, he's more human and approachable, got it? Farland makes it easy for his Good Guys to take endowments too, because anyone who's tasked with taking an endowment must take care of their subjects, sort of like a VA Hospital. If they die, you lose the endowment. You end up with towers, wagons, houses, or fortresses packed with invalids, and if you're Raj Ahten, and hit the road to a-go-a-warring, you pack them up and taken them with. Are you following? The basis for good vs. evil isn't that you take the endowments, it's that you do it in a cuddly way, and that the person giving you all their bodily strength or eyesight really, really likes you. To me, it's like comparing "good" slave owners to "bad" slave owners. The author's tool for qualifying someone as good was too weak to be believed. I think the only reason Gaborn has fewer endowments than other Runelords is to make him more accessible to the reader, maybe giving the sense that he's not quite as suspect as the others. This move completely undermines the moral compass the author attempts to establish. Beyond the ridiculousness described above, the characters annoyed me. I hate when a character's looks count towards their importance or character. When the Love Interest, Iome, gets her panties all in a twist about (view spoiler)[ having her beauty sucked out by Raj Ahten and being demoted to Assistant Poop Cleaner (hide spoiler)] , my eyes glazed over. The scene where she and Gaborn first meet was fucking annoying. The author actually, seriously, literally used Twu Wuv at First Sight. Really? Really. It's such a convoluted, inane plot device that it should be given a mercy killing. Gaborn is bland. He always makes the right choice, always does the right thing, and his shit smells like roses, apparently. I was so stunned by the interaction between Gaborn and every woman in the book, that I almost forgot that Twu Wuv shows up right in the beginning of the book. Gaborn is in a new city and plays matchmaker between his guard captain and a random woman they find in the street. What do Random Woman and Guard Captain do? They fucking go along with it! Are you kidding me? Regretfully, I didn't finish the book. This doesn't happen often for me, but I just couldn't make myself read this when I've got The Blinding Knife chilling on my nightstand, staring at me and judging my life choices.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽

    This was a reasonably good swords-and-sorcery type of fantasy adventure, well thought-out and with a very unusual magical system, and popular enough that it's a series of eight books so far. But I just could not with the way that their magic worked. It was highly disturbing, and it ruined the entire book for me. The magic functions on a system of "endowments": using the magical spells, one person permanently (until either the giver or the recipient dies) gifts another with his or her personal at This was a reasonably good swords-and-sorcery type of fantasy adventure, well thought-out and with a very unusual magical system, and popular enough that it's a series of eight books so far. But I just could not with the way that their magic worked. It was highly disturbing, and it ruined the entire book for me. The magic functions on a system of "endowments": using the magical spells, one person permanently (until either the giver or the recipient dies) gifts another with his or her personal attribute: strength, speed, good looks, intelligence and so one. If you gift someone your good looks, you're permanently ugly. Strength, you're permanently weak, to the point of being disabled. Supposedly it is voluntary, but blackmail/threats/family pressure etc. combine to force many people to give away their strengths. So the bad guy has done this to thousands of people, and the hero only to a few dozen. Good to know. It was kind of a downer overall, not just because of this awful magical system ... but, well, mostly. I had no desire to continue with the series, and I gave away my copy of this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    This following review was an assignment for a fantasy literature course at BYU. The Runelords Author, Title, Facts of Publication The Runelords was written by David Wolverton and published in 1998. The author used the pseudonym David Farland to market the book because he wanted it on store shelves in the F section as a marketing strategy. David Farland is a Mormon and LDS themes such as covenant making and sacrifice thread through his work. Setting The book takes place in the fantasy kingdom of Ro This following review was an assignment for a fantasy literature course at BYU. The Runelords Author, Title, Facts of Publication The Runelords was written by David Wolverton and published in 1998. The author used the pseudonym David Farland to market the book because he wanted it on store shelves in the F section as a marketing strategy. David Farland is a Mormon and LDS themes such as covenant making and sacrifice thread through his work. Setting The book takes place in the fantasy kingdom of Rofehavan where wights haunt the forests, frowth giants trample the underbrush, wizards cast ancient spells, and an unstable feudal society struggles for order. Farland, as I shall call the author, creates an extremely unique world, even for fantasy standards. It is a medieval world with swords, axes bows and arrows, and other primitive weaponry. Electricity does not appear to play a part in their technology. Magic is their source of energy. The book begins just before Hostenfest, a holiday honoring the Earth King. The action covers five days from the nineteenth day in the month of the harvest (sometime in the Fall season) to the twenty third. Most of the story takes place in the province of Heredon distinguished by the giant forbidding Dunnwood forest. Of great importance to the story is its political setting. Rofehavan is a large kingdom made of smaller provinces each governed by a family of Runelords. The political situation is unstable due to a lack of central government. Runelords are constantly in conflict over power. This instability is augmented by inequalities produced by the giving of endowments. Runelords receive endowments such as strength, wit, stamina, vision, and metabolism from their subjects making them many times stronger, faster, smarter, and healthier than normal men while their subjects become derelicts, fools, and mutes. Commoners sacrifice their attributes to their Lords in return for money or protection. Besides creating many ethical questions, this practice causes a political dilemma similar to a modern day nuclear arms race. Every lord must take endowments to be strong enough to fight his enemy. They continually try to one-up their opponents taking more and more endowments until eventually a lord may become so powerful and destructive that he threatens the entire world. With this political debacle, the stage is set for war. Plot The story begins with Prince Gaborn Val Orden of Mystarria. He and his father, King Mendallas are traveling to Castle Sylvarresta just north of the Dunnwood forest to celebrate Hostenfest and arrange Gaborn’s marriage with Princess Iome Sylvarresta thereby uniting the provinces of Mystarria and Sylvarresta. This is an important political union to unify provinces against the inevitable threat of Raj Ahten, King of Indhopal. In his travels north, Gaborn stumbles across Raj Ahten’s army marching towards Sylvarresta. With haste, Gaborn races through frowth giants, nomen, and enemy scouts to warn King Sylvarresta that his castle will soon be under attack. The king organizes his forces in defense, but Raj Ahten easily conquers the castle without force using his voice and glamour endowments to convince Sylvarresta’s forces to open the draw bridge and serve him. Knowing that Raj Ahten will kill him if caught, Gaborn flees the castle. He does so with the help of the earth wizard Binnesman who makes him covenant to serve the earth in return for great powers. Meanwhile, Raj Ahten pillages the city and takes endowments from hundreds including the king and princess who are left stupid and ugly respectively. Gaborn helps them escape Sylvarresta and swears to protect them. He loves Iome even though she has lost her beauty. Meanwhile, King Mendallas Orden marches his troops to defend the fortress of Longmot and the forty-thousand crucibles there hidden. He also sends his guard, Borenson, to slay all of the innocent dedicates of Sylvarresta who are providing Ahten with super powers. Raj Ahten conquers Longmot killing everybody but one soldier. With the death of many of his dedicates, he is weakened and flees to the south. Gaborn and Iome reach Longmot to find it in ruins and King Orden dead. The spirits of the Dunwood visit Gaborn and christen him “The King of the Earth”. He marries Iome and prepares to confront Raj Ahten in future novels. Characterization Fantasy characters are usually categorized into races such as elves, humans, or orcs, and then into classes such as knights, barbarians, wizards or clerics. Farland invents several new races and classes not seen in traditional fantasy. For example, some new races are the sixteen-feet-tall Frowth Giants, the ape like nomen and the deadly reavers. He develops the new classes of runelords, flameweavers (fire wizards who I think are of the human race), and the Days. The days are perhaps the strangest new characters. They are a network monk-like people who follow nobles’ and document their lives. To me, the most interesting character is Borenson. Early in the book, he is developed as Gaborn’s impeccably loyal body guard. Farland uses a comment made by Gaborn’s Day to foreshadow that he may not be that good of heart, “If I may be so bold, I fear that he has all of a dog’s finest virtues but loyalty…He’s an assasin. A butcher, your Lordship. That is why he is captain of your guard. (pg. 59).” Borenson laughs in battle and seemingly takes great delight in killing. The climax of his violent nature occurs when he follows King Orden’s order to slay all of the innocent dedicates in Castle Sylvarresta. His conscience overwhelms him and he is thrown into near insanity later killing King Sylvarresta himself. He is considered one of the good guys, and the reader feels sympathy for him. Borenson is a fascinating character faced with terrible decisions. Point of View The book is written in third person omniscient. The narrator jumps each chapter to describe the perspective of a different character so the reader knows the thoughts and actions of the heroes and villains. Theme The work suggests various possible themes. For instance, the adversary makes evil look good. Raj Ahten conquers Castle Sylvarresta by tricking the defenders into believing he is good. The defenders were, “overwhelmed by a monster’s glamour and voice,” and did his bidding. Ahten commanded them to surrender “with great force, with a sound of gentleness that slid past all of Iome’s defenses.” Raj Ahten is a type of the great deceiver, Satan, who “gently slides” past our defenses until we are under his complete and utter control. Surely, that is how Lucifer led away a third of the hosts of Hell. Another theme, religious in nature is that power comes from making and keeping covenants. Style Farland uses a matter-of-fact style. The novel is a literal narration with relatively limited figurative language. He develops the story through narration and dialogue between characters. He presents complex, thought provoking ideas through his narration of events and circumstances without straying far from the plot to address them. He allows the reader to do that on his own after introducing the reader to an alien world with different rules and ethics. An important characteristic of his style is the abundance of vivid descriptions of violence. Personal Reactions Upon completion of the book, my most obvious reaction was, “hey, where’s the closure!” It was a gripping tale keeping me turning the pages in expectation of a satisfying ending that never came. Fantasy often does this, but with The Runelords it was unusually unsettling. I found the concept of giving endowments of stamina, metabolism, and intelligence very clever. In video games (which I consider the most widespread medium of fantasy adventure in modern times), a character gains levels and strength based on mathematical formulas using a set of statistics. The statistics always include strength, stamina, intelligence, speed (metabolism), and so on. By the end of the game, the character is super-human. To me, it is obvious that Farland knowingly incorporated the common statistical attributes from role-playing video games into his novel.

  4. 4 out of 5

    StoryTellerShannon

    QUICK STORY: As various nobles fight it out, Raj Ahten, the villain, takes over various lands one by one. Prince Gaborn and his father try to stop him and in the process involve another kingdom called Silvanesti. But, there is a greater need . . . the Earth is rejecting humanity and only one such as Prince Gaborn can fully protect and extract the powers/mysteries of the Earth. SHORT WORD FEELING: Good prose but characters weren't entirely fleshed out as much as they could; great idea on endowment QUICK STORY: As various nobles fight it out, Raj Ahten, the villain, takes over various lands one by one. Prince Gaborn and his father try to stop him and in the process involve another kingdom called Silvanesti. But, there is a greater need . . . the Earth is rejecting humanity and only one such as Prince Gaborn can fully protect and extract the powers/mysteries of the Earth. SHORT WORD FEELING: Good prose but characters weren't entirely fleshed out as much as they could; great idea on endowments and how they would work on the body; flaw with villain since he was fooled and was supposed to be a genius. GENRE: Fantasy (Epic subgenre) CONCEPT: Lords of the lands can drain locals to increase their own powers which creates a race or super human beings and even Gods; one particularly powerful lord devotes himself to taking over the focus on two kingdoms (who are about to marry son and daughter). MARKETING APPEAL: The endowment idea is fresh and creative. Never been done before. Promises an epic scope; battles between nations; a somewhat complex villain; a love story (not a good one though!), earth and fire magic; surprises and some economical and moral issues regarding the endowments SCORING: Superb (A), Excellent (A-), Very good (B+), Good (B) Fairly Good (B-) Above Average (C+), Mediocre (C ), Barely Passable (C-) Pretty Bad (D+), Dismal (D), Waste of Time (D-), Into the Trash (F) DIALOGUE: B- STRUCTURE: B+ HISTORY SETTING: B CHARACTERS: B EVIL SETUP/ANTAGONISTS: B+ EMOTIONAL IMPACT: B- SURPRISES: A- LITTLE THINGS: A- MONSTERS: B+ PACING: A- OVERALL STYLE: B- FLOW OF WORDS: B- CHOICE OF FOCUS: B- TRANSITIONS/FLASHBACKS/POV: B COMPLEXITY OF WORDS/SYMBOLISM/THEMES: B- OVERALL GRADE: B OVERALL STYLE: See EXTREME ANALYSIS for information (below). I also liked how each chapter had a title that revealed what was going to happen . . . sort of similar to how Moorcock set up his ELRIC series. LITTLE THINGS: The mention of the Days (scribes who travel with important people and keep track of their doings and who know all and report to a superior) was very interesting. Additionally, the mention of the TIME LORDS was interesting, too. Archetypes of earth vs fire with the magical system. And, another cool thing: forts that are protected with magic so that heavy duty spells don't destroy the place....

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daniel (Attack of the Books!) Burton

    As I said in my review of On My Way to Paradise, I don't know how I missed Dave Wolverton back in the late 1990s, but I'm sure it had something to do with starting college, doing more homework and reading fewer novels, and, probably, girls. Whatever it was that distracted me at the time, I've found Wolverton, or Dave Farland as he goes by for his fantasy novels (and which name I'll use from here on out since this is a fantasy novel), and I feel like I've discovered some kind of not-so-hidden loc As I said in my review of On My Way to Paradise, I don't know how I missed Dave Wolverton back in the late 1990s, but I'm sure it had something to do with starting college, doing more homework and reading fewer novels, and, probably, girls. Whatever it was that distracted me at the time, I've found Wolverton, or Dave Farland as he goes by for his fantasy novels (and which name I'll use from here on out since this is a fantasy novel), and I feel like I've discovered some kind of not-so-hidden local restaurant that, for whatever reason, no one ever told me had amazing sandwiches. And everyday, right about the same time, I can't help but want to trek back over to try a new sandwich. Farland is just like that. I read On My Way to Paradise, and loved it, but I couldn't help but ask: was it a one-hit wonder? Since it had been a while since I'd read any epic fantasy, I decided to pick up The Sum of All Men. I finished the late-Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series back in January, and I hadn't touched the genre since. Books in epic fantasy tend to be door stoppers, and it takes some commitment to pick up a new series (just ask George R.R. Martin fans who have endure not only long periods of time between installments in his Song of Fire and Ice series, but the very real possibility that the good guys just won't win in the end...or even in the middle, for that matter. But I digress). After putting it off to finish one thing and another, I finally dug in, started reading, and soon found myself lost between the pages. A lot of reviewers and readers will note that The Sum of All Men breaks new ground, manages to come up with a magic system that is fresh and original, and it's true. However, this isn't what I liked so much about The Sum of All Men, though it's clearly a clever system of magic. On the contrary, for me the magic system, something of a "shameful economy," as I think one of the characters calls it, creates conflicts and conundrums for Farland's protagonists while empowering their enemies. No, it isn't the magic that I find so interesting, though clever it may be, nor the fantastical creatures, bloody battles, or imaginative world. It's all very fascinating and contributory to a great tale, but clever ideas are a dime a dozen in fantasy. Rather, what I like is Farland's writing and the way his characters resonate with me. Because although set in a land that has more in common with medieval Europe and crusade era Arabia, the characters face quandaries and decisions and complex relationships that are human and natural and believable. They act like real people, not pawns of a writer's pen, and whether it is the power of the story, the deft and gentle use of symbolism, or the interweaving of myth, Joseph Campbell-style, by the time I had finished The Sum of All Men I felt as much for the characters as I might for people I really know. I even sympathized with the apparent villain. Yes, he was "the bad guy," but it wasn't so black and white why he was the villain. Not unlike On My Way to Paradise, it was in the grey and difficult to see decisions that made the characters live on the page. Ok, I know. It's silly to care about the fictional, ink on paper people that fill a novel. And there are a lot of good books out there that can make readers feel, so to speak. But what is good reading but a way to understand and see through the eyes of another for a while? It doesn't matter whether it's on a ship hurtling through space between the planets, a farmer trying to eek out a subsistence on a Depression era farm, or a bevy of sisters trying to catch the eye of the newly wealthy, and very handsome, Mr. Darcy: when a book can make you feel, believe in the imaginary characters, it's worth the time and it's worth finding more of it. Farland is, for me, a newly discovered secret, and I can't wait to share the secret with others, not to mention read more. I've got his Nightingale, one of his more recent books, waiting next to the bed, and I've just put in an order from Amazon for Brotherhood of the Wolf, and I can't wait to start both.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Traci

    It was "okay" but I didn't "like it". Two stars seems a bit harsh but going by the goodreads guidelines here. I hadn't heard of this series before it kept cropping up on twitter. I thought it would be another Jordan clone of the eighties and nineties and in that aspect anyway I was surprised. It has a unique magic system reminiscent of Brandon Sanderson and must have seemed very new at the time. Rulers enhance their abilities, their looks, speed, power, voice, hearing, sight etc., by taking the s It was "okay" but I didn't "like it". Two stars seems a bit harsh but going by the goodreads guidelines here. I hadn't heard of this series before it kept cropping up on twitter. I thought it would be another Jordan clone of the eighties and nineties and in that aspect anyway I was surprised. It has a unique magic system reminiscent of Brandon Sanderson and must have seemed very new at the time. Rulers enhance their abilities, their looks, speed, power, voice, hearing, sight etc., by taking the sacrifices of their subjects. Leaving the giver without. Leaving them as hags and old men, sloths that cannot move, mute, deaf or blind. Interesting concept but here think more C.S. Lewis than GRRM. My problem is that both the heroes and the villain uses this method. And as long as it is done in love and the disabled are looked after it's all good. Maybe I'm too independent, actually if you knew me you'd laugh at that statement, tell me to go right because there's a fire to my left I'd go left just to spite you, but I cannot see giving or receiving such gifts. Nope. Sorry. The book is just a little too idealistic for me. Characters I have already forgotten the names of. I hate love at first sight, I know not very romantic of me, lust at first sight sure. I love love. I do. But...well in the first few chapters our hero prince arranges the marriage of his bodyguard and a woman they just then met. And they're both more than fine with it. They're happy. And our prince has fallen in love with our heroine even though they haven't officially met. And she falls in love with him from less than an hour while her kingdom is preparing for battle. Priorities you know. My biggest pet peeve with books is repetition. Really. It gives me headaches. And I feel like screaming when a word or two is used too much. Here it was pragmatic in the first half. Metabolism in the second. Okay. I didn't mean for this to be so negative. It wasn't the worst I've read. I finished it. And if I had read it ten years ago I might have liked it a lot. I would recommend it to fans of Brandon Sanderson, especially if you loved Elantris. To fans of Robert Jordan. And to anyone who can't get enough of traditional fantasy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steven Naylor

    Rating 3.0 stars. If I had to describe this book in one word it would probably be "meh". I think the author was trying to hard to create an epic fantasy novel. The story was "okay", the magic system "okay", the character "okay". There seemed to be 2 kinds of magic in this world, one was called giving endowments. In this world a person could give a personal quality to someone else making the other person stronger. Some of the possible traits that could be giving were: sight, stamina, metabolism, Rating 3.0 stars. If I had to describe this book in one word it would probably be "meh". I think the author was trying to hard to create an epic fantasy novel. The story was "okay", the magic system "okay", the character "okay". There seemed to be 2 kinds of magic in this world, one was called giving endowments. In this world a person could give a personal quality to someone else making the other person stronger. Some of the possible traits that could be giving were: sight, stamina, metabolism, hearing, smell, strength, glamour, and probably a few more. So if a person gave their sight away, they would be blind but the other person would have the eyesight of 2 people. Now this only worked while both parties were still alive. So if someone gave away their strength, they would not be able to move at all and would have to be taken care of for the rest of their lives. The main bad guy in the story has thousands of endowments and wants to rule the world. I just never quite got behind this magic system. It did not seem efficient. Wouldn't it be better to have 1000 strong individuals fighting instead of 1 strong individual and 1000 invalids. Not to mention, who would willingly give up some attribute and live like that the rest of their lives? That is another catch, an endowment would have to be freely given and not taken by force or it would not work. The second part of the magic system which was not talked about as much is the magic of air, earth, fire and water. I thought the fire wizards were over the top with their power. It was also a little weird at the end that the good guys "won" some how and yet they lost almost everything. Nothing I read makes me excited to read the rest of the series. Again nothing was that bad, just not enough there for me to continue with the series.

  8. 4 out of 5

    D.M. Almond

    The Runeloards was everything I wanted in a fantasy. David Farland's world really blew me away. It feels ancient and believable in all the right ways, without clinging to racial tropes of the genre. He is one author that I could say surprises me with the decisions he makes throughout the story. I kind of ran through reading this without even realizing how fast I was devouring the tale. I'm already moving on to the second book now with an eagerness that excites me.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    3.0 stars. One of the more original "systems" of magic I have read about in some time. I thought the author did a decent job of exploring the results of the system as well though I thought the story and the prose were just okay. Still, a pretty good read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Marianne Dyson

    As a writer who reads rather critically, I often find myself guessing the ending of a book, and sighing in disappointment as the plot plays out exactly as I'd expected, or worse, falls apart into meaningless mush. Well, not so with this book! Farland really is a master writer. There's no wasted exposition. The setting is alive with details. Each character was expertly drawn and different from every other character in ways important to the story. Their lives intertwined with purpose, and their re As a writer who reads rather critically, I often find myself guessing the ending of a book, and sighing in disappointment as the plot plays out exactly as I'd expected, or worse, falls apart into meaningless mush. Well, not so with this book! Farland really is a master writer. There's no wasted exposition. The setting is alive with details. Each character was expertly drawn and different from every other character in ways important to the story. Their lives intertwined with purpose, and their respective goals led to conflict and emtional tension that played out in action-packed scenes executed with perfect pacing. I read this book because I took a writers' workshop from the author, and I was curious to see how he applied what he taught. Though my intention was to analyze the story looking for things like subplot setups and tension building situations, after the first few chapters, I just jumped on a horse and rode alongside the characters on their unfolding adventure. It was too much fun to stop and analyze everything. This then, is the goal of my own writing--to use the techniques he taught so well that like well-stitched clothing, the wearer is so focused on the look and feel of the garment that they never think about seams and fasteners. The ending of this first book in the series was very satisfying, and yet the wider world conflict left me aching to read what happens to these characters next.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bell

    *NOTE: SPOILER* Overall it wasn't that bad, but left me very disappointed. I think this was mainly due to the fact that I thought the author had some very promising ideas with a good plot, making a bad final quarter of the book leaving me feeling empty and dissatisfied. The original 'Endowment' concept was pretty interesting. The book was too long for what the storyline required, consequently, a lot of it was a tad boring. And i didn't like how there was no victory for the 'hero'. The blurb promi *NOTE: SPOILER* Overall it wasn't that bad, but left me very disappointed. I think this was mainly due to the fact that I thought the author had some very promising ideas with a good plot, making a bad final quarter of the book leaving me feeling empty and dissatisfied. The original 'Endowment' concept was pretty interesting. The book was too long for what the storyline required, consequently, a lot of it was a tad boring. And i didn't like how there was no victory for the 'hero'. The blurb promises a good battle at the least! Yet there wasn't one until the end and that was just more of a slaughter... i was left thinking 'ok, what is the earth king going to do.. oh yes, NOTHING.' The disappointment was magnified due to the ridiculous length of the book which should of been half the size at best. The Sum of All Men is just a story of how the bad-ass has just about everything going for him...ugh can you imagine 600 pages of that? I dont quite regret reading it, although i would certainly not recommend it. Needless to say i will not purchase a sequel. (Thankfully, this one only cost me 15p :P )

  12. 4 out of 5

    Will Caskey

    I don't know at all what to think about this series. There's its basic concept of people being used like livestock to give superpowers to a few boneheads. It does dwell on the...DUBIOUS morality, but not in a way that really provokes any thought or reaction. There's the naturalist religion that is SORT OF a counter to the rampant rune use and possibly a stand-in for christianity. But then it veers off into fairly arbitrary moral standards and inconsistent miracle-work (okay, maybe that reinforces I don't know at all what to think about this series. There's its basic concept of people being used like livestock to give superpowers to a few boneheads. It does dwell on the...DUBIOUS morality, but not in a way that really provokes any thought or reaction. There's the naturalist religion that is SORT OF a counter to the rampant rune use and possibly a stand-in for christianity. But then it veers off into fairly arbitrary moral standards and inconsistent miracle-work (okay, maybe that reinforces the christianity angle. But to what end?). There's the extensive side plot dedicated to a man having his testicles torn off and then regrowing them. There's the monsters (Reavers) who are...well they're just monsters. There's not a lot to say about them. It's certainly not Bad fantasy. But it is very confusing, and not in a way that makes additional reading seem like a good time investment.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Eric Allen

    9% done: So, I first came across David Farland way back in the day writing as Dave Wolverton with Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia. It was a perfectly adequate Star Wars adventure notable more for the people, places, and things that it introduced to the then-fledgling Star Wars Expanded Universe than for actually being a good book. At the time, there was the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn, which were probably the best 3 books that the SWEU ever had to offer, and Truce at Bakura by Kathy 9% done: So, I first came across David Farland way back in the day writing as Dave Wolverton with Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia. It was a perfectly adequate Star Wars adventure notable more for the people, places, and things that it introduced to the then-fledgling Star Wars Expanded Universe than for actually being a good book. At the time, there was the Thrawn Trilogy by Timothy Zahn, which were probably the best 3 books that the SWEU ever had to offer, and Truce at Bakura by Kathy Tyres, which was a long, boring, stupid waste of time. It's not the worst Star Wars book, but I credit it with setting the bar so extraordinarily low early on and ushering in the worse books that followed. Courtship was firmly in the middle. It wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible. It was merely ok. Though the author was clearly not extremely well versed in the source material and made some very bizarre extrapolations from it, he did manage to expand the expanded universe in a meaningful way, which is more than I can say about Kathy Tyers. Disney has even adopted some of his additions to Star Wars lore into the new cannon, for which he probably goes unrecognized, and uncompensated, except by those of us who remember where those things all came from, and who dreamed them up. Why do I bring this up? Well, because this book is basically the same thing. It's a perfectly adequate fantasy adventure. It's not great, but it's not terrible. It's a little on the generic side, but not enough to put me off of it... yet... I mean, I did just start reading it after all. It probably gets better. I hope. 23% done: Okay, this book has some rather large problems. The biggest three are that it is very high on exposition, and very low on plot and character. I like to call this Cinematic Universe Syndrome. For the last ten years or so, Disney and Marvel have been absolutely killing it at the box office with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ever since then, you've had Warner Brothers trying to do the same thing with DC Comics, which has had very mixed results, and been an overall financial failure, and the butt of many a joke over the last few years. You've had Sony try to do the same thing with various properties, including Spider-Man, and Ghostbusters, both of which flopped hard. You've had Universal trying to do it with their monster movies, and failed hard. The thing all of these failures have in common is that they want to start out at the top, without building the foundation below them first. Marvel didn't start out with a cinematic universe. They started out with one good movie. It wasn't the best superhero movie ever made. But it had very likable characters, and it told a good story. From there they made another movie. And they did the same thing. And another, and another, and another, and THEN they pulled it all together into a big cinematic universe after setting up the characters with stories of their own that set the stage for the shared universe between them. The problem with all of the others is this. They're so focused on building that cinematic universe up front that they forget that the first movie also has to be a good movie. It has to tell a story that people like, about characters they enjoy. No one cares about future movies you might make. They're not watching those. They want the movie that they ARE watching to actually be a good movie too. If you tell a good story about entertaining characters the first time, people will always come back for more, especially if they are of the same or even better quality like the Marvel Movies have been. This is a problem that has been plaguing movies for the last decade or so, but it's also started seeping into books, and it needs to freaking stop. Yes, I realize that this book predates all of that, but it has the same problems, so I'm lumping it in with them. This book is so focused on setting up future books that it forgot that it also has to be a good book in itself, and actually tell a story, and have characters that people care about in it. I've fallen into that same trap myself, believe me, it is an easy thing to do. I've just spent the last six months completely rewriting a book almost from scratch because I messed it up so badly the first time in trying to set up the universe that the story is taking place in before actually telling the story. I'm rectifying that mistake, David Farland can't, as this book has already been published. There is so freaking much exposition setting things up in this book that there just isn't any room for more than a rudimentary, bare-bones plot, or any character deeper than bland, boring, unlikeable drones that have zero personality, or reason to exist. I don't know if I'm going to finish this one. It's pretty hard to get into because the author is so focused on building the structure of the series here in the very beginning, that he's not telling a story, or developing characters. I'll give it another few chapters to pull me in, otherwise, this one's going back for a refund. 30% done: Yeah, no. I give up. This book is boring, has terrible characters, if you can even call them characters to begin with, and zero plot. As with all books I am unable to finish, this book gets one star by default. Like, seriously. If you want me to enjoy your book, you need to stop world-building in the beginning long enough to introduce some real characters, and actually start telling a damned story. I don't give a damn about your setup if there is nothing else to read about. Also, another thing that really annoyed me in this book is the fakey fantasy names. Yes, most fantasy books have some pretty out there names. But here, every single person’s name was just absolutely ridiculous. Every time someone is named I’m just rolling my eyes over it. Some times fantasy authors just go way too far with the names. This is one of those times.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lucinda

    The sum of all men is the first book in David Farland's epic fantasy series the Runelords, that currently consists of 8 books with book 9 (the tale of tales) being published next month. The Runelords is a series that captured my imagiation with book one and has since become a series that i have much treasured and loved, which is new & completely origional and i could not compare David Farland's work to any other author as it is just so unique. It is a captivating story that is complex and de The sum of all men is the first book in David Farland's epic fantasy series the Runelords, that currently consists of 8 books with book 9 (the tale of tales) being published next month. The Runelords is a series that captured my imagiation with book one and has since become a series that i have much treasured and loved, which is new & completely origional and i could not compare David Farland's work to any other author as it is just so unique. It is a captivating story that is complex and detailed which creates much more momentum and depth as you read on through the series of books, with book 1 being the launchpad of a catalyst of events that are set in motion and which i found to be utterly facinating & so interesting. This is an adventure that is so exciting and one which swept me away completely, that i was transported along a voyage of descovery and delight; it was just so exciting. The characters are distinctive and uniquely captivating that you follow them on thier journey into the unknown, which is full of non-stop action and drama that will literally take your breath away. The characters were really interesting and inventive and i greatly admire David Farland's imagination and creativity, which is so facinating and a real treat to behold. The action was bloodstained and fast-paced with a fluidity that kept you reading on, and as a concequence i was unable to put this book down even for a second because i was so engrossed within the storyline. As i read each book and new installment within the Runelords series i was dazzled by how great the storyline was and how each new book seemed to be even better than the previous one, being more exciting and interesting with the storyline becoming even more complex and facinating. This book did take me a few chapters to get into and it took me a while to understand and come to terms with the world that David Farland had created, the geneology & the characters and the places; as each fantasy story is different and some are more complex than others which does vary and depends also on the particular writers style. Once i had read a few chapters and delved into the storyline then i was wisked away into an exciting world that was filled with action, drama and commotion and so i thus continued with book 2 and onwards. Anyone who enjoys fantasy fiction then i urge you to try David Farland as he is such a great writer and his work is truly magical and spellbinding. I was completely captivated and i have loved this series and the journey that it has taken me on and the author should be listed on one of the greats for this particular genre. A really gripping and exciting read that will have you on the edge of your seat and unable to put the book down because it is just so interesting & deep. David Farland's Runelords series is majestic and epic and is truly spectaular and i urge all lovers of the fantasy genre to read them.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Leilani

    5 starts without a doubt. There wasn't a single part of this book that I found boring or irritating - actually, I found the main bad guy VERY irritating but I'm pretty sure that was Farlands intention - the story moved at a good pace with plenty of action and fantastic characters. I have a weakness for books that have a clever villain that challenges the spirits and wits of the good guys. This book was cleverly plotted and the bad guy was more than devious. I couldn't say who was the main hero i 5 starts without a doubt. There wasn't a single part of this book that I found boring or irritating - actually, I found the main bad guy VERY irritating but I'm pretty sure that was Farlands intention - the story moved at a good pace with plenty of action and fantastic characters. I have a weakness for books that have a clever villain that challenges the spirits and wits of the good guys. This book was cleverly plotted and the bad guy was more than devious. I couldn't say who was the main hero in this story because so many sacrificed their lives and efforts to fight Raj Ahten ( the Villain ) But I quite taken with Gaborn ( the main character ) His will to preserve life and his high standards for himself was everything a hero should be. I also loved the multiple characters that played significant parts in the story. All of Farlands magical creatures and the whole concept of being a 'Runelord' was brilliant! The whole idea that you could draw out the talents and strengths of other people to add to your own - though Raj Ahten used it as a way to make himself almost invincible - was so cool!! I was also very intrigued by the 'Reavers' that were mentioned and can't wait to learn more about them in his next book. I can't get to a library fast enough...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dave Hart

    Having read this over 5 years ago its hard for me to say that I like it now. At the time my mind was maybe a little more open to the concepts and my teenage mind reveled in its fantasy glory. But now I think I would find it a little too cliche, (a term I hate to use) perhaps it was aimed at the younger market of reader, in which case it is spot on and deserves 5 stars! But as a now 20-something reader it is hard to imagine that I would fall for Farland's ideas of love at first sight and heroic s Having read this over 5 years ago its hard for me to say that I like it now. At the time my mind was maybe a little more open to the concepts and my teenage mind reveled in its fantasy glory. But now I think I would find it a little too cliche, (a term I hate to use) perhaps it was aimed at the younger market of reader, in which case it is spot on and deserves 5 stars! But as a now 20-something reader it is hard to imagine that I would fall for Farland's ideas of love at first sight and heroic self sacrifice. Farland is however a brilliant action writer, fight scenes flow and give a real sense of impending danger but overall I think it the book may lack some of the more gritty human elements, lust for example is ignored. The magic system of giving endowments is the element of the Runelords series that I still love to this day. Giving endowments in honor of your king to help the kingdom, allowing even the weakest of common men to lend his hand to save his kin.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andy Angel

    This series has been on my radar for many years but for some reason I never got round to starting it.................oh, you foolish, foolish person! Turns out I've been missing a real treat. Although the story is fairly standard fantasy stuff there are two things that really stand out; 1) The magic system, whereby people can be empowered by taking enhancements from people - making the person recieving the the enhancement more powerful but leaving the donor a wreck. At times this can be quite hor This series has been on my radar for many years but for some reason I never got round to starting it.................oh, you foolish, foolish person! Turns out I've been missing a real treat. Although the story is fairly standard fantasy stuff there are two things that really stand out; 1) The magic system, whereby people can be empowered by taking enhancements from people - making the person recieving the the enhancement more powerful but leaving the donor a wreck. At times this can be quite horrific or saddenning, depending on the situation, whether the enhancement is taken by force or freely given and as a plot device it is really well used. 2) The description of the world. Right from the very first page this land jumps off the page. It feels real and alive. For me, this makes a story all the more enjoyable. All in all, quality storytelling and characterisation, set in a believable land - It took me a while to start this eries but I'm really glad I did.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leon Aldrich

    An Amazon Review: The Runelords is that rare book that will remind you why you started reading fantasy in the first place. Much of the setting--and even some of the story--is conventional fantasy fare, but David Farland, aside from being a masterful storyteller, has built his world around a complex and thought-provoking social system involving the exchange of "endowments." Attributes such as stamina, grace, and wit are a currency: a vassal may help his lord by endowing him with all of his strengt An Amazon Review: The Runelords is that rare book that will remind you why you started reading fantasy in the first place. Much of the setting--and even some of the story--is conventional fantasy fare, but David Farland, aside from being a masterful storyteller, has built his world around a complex and thought-provoking social system involving the exchange of "endowments." Attributes such as stamina, grace, and wit are a currency: a vassal may help his lord by endowing him with all of his strength, for instance, and in turn the vassal comes under the lord's care as his "dedicate," too weak to even walk. A Runelord might have hundreds of such endowments, giving him superhuman senses and abilities, but he then must care for the hundreds that he has deprived of strength, or beauty, or sight.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ben Babcock

    I read The Runelords, or at least The Sum of All Men, when I was much younger. I like to revisit books I think I enjoyed when I was younger but don’t remember now. If I like them still, hoorah; if I don’t, then I get to better understand how I have changed over the years. The Sum of All Men falls in the middle of that spectrum: it’s an enjoyable book with intriguing fantasy elements, but the characters and story vary from pedestrian to poor. Most of the praise for this book will involve the magic I read The Runelords, or at least The Sum of All Men, when I was much younger. I like to revisit books I think I enjoyed when I was younger but don’t remember now. If I like them still, hoorah; if I don’t, then I get to better understand how I have changed over the years. The Sum of All Men falls in the middle of that spectrum: it’s an enjoyable book with intriguing fantasy elements, but the characters and story vary from pedestrian to poor. Most of the praise for this book will involve the magic system that allows the eponymous runelords to be so runic and lordy, so I guess I’ll be a sheep and follow the herd on this point: this book totally has an original magic system. Instead of casting spells and counting mana, David Farland allows his characters to take “endowments” of attributes from other people through the use of magic runes. Taking an endowment of brawn robs someone of their strength—if you die, they get it back, but if they die, you lose that strength as well. So there’s an interesting, somewhat parasitic relationship going on here. Part of the moral conflict of the book concerns the propriety of accepting endowments from poor people in lieu of payment they can’t make any other way—and then you have the Big Bad, Raj Ahten, who just takes endowments at the tip of a sword and laughs nefariously when he thinks no one is looking. That’s not the best part of the magic system, though. If Farland had stopped there, it would still be original and interesting. He takes it further, though, and explores some of the natural consequences of taking endowments. For example, if someone gives an endowment of wit (thereby losing theirs), any endowments of wit they receive automatically transfer to the person who got theirs originally—they become vectors. Later, Farland asks what happens when you create a chain of vectors and then have the person at the head of the chain give an endowment to the person at the tail—you get a ring! It’s so unfortunate when authors create interesting worlds or systems of magic but then leave the corners unexplored. That Farland takes full advantage of the rich possibilities of runes and endowments is definitely praise-worthy. It’s much harder to be impressed with the protagonist, Gaborn Val Orden. He—shockingly, I know—turns out to be a nice guy with only the best of intentions in mind. He doesn’t take endowments, by force or as payment, only instead taking them if they are granted “willingly” out of “loyalty”. I’ve seen some good arguments about how this is a distinction without a difference, and Gaborn is just as culpable in what is essentially a system of slavery as his less scrupulous father or the nasty Raj Ahten. These criticisms are spot on and illustrate how Gaborn’s lack of self-awareness undermine his heroic role. However, I think it’s worth pointing out that most epic fantasy set in a pseudo-medieval world suffers from some level of this problem. How many epic fantasy books are about princes or princesses attempting to win back the throne from an usurper? The feudal system, and absolute monarchies in general, suck and are tantamount to slavery. Yet we’re supposed to cheer for the “rightful rulers” and their heroic pluck anyway. If anything, Farland is just making this cognitive dissonance within the fantasy genre more overt—though, by not subverting it, he doesn’t make the situation any better. Gaborn is an uninspiring protagonist at best. His heroism is ordained rather than earned (or even particularly innate). I could deal with this, except that Gaborn spends most of this long story not doing anything important. Yeah, he rescues the princess from the tower and (maybe) spurs his father to sacrifice himself for the Greater Good (the greater good!). But The Runelords is not exactly the high-octane adventure you might want from a book of this size. Gaborn spends most of it either riding towards or away from Castle Sylvarresta. (I’m not even going to touch the whole episode at the beginning where he arranges a marriage between his bodyguard and a hot peasant girl they meet in this foreign kingdom. Sooooo much wrong with that.) Did I mention Gaborn has a love interest? Gaborn totally has a love interest. Her name is Iome. She’s beautiful, apparently, and more so with endowments of glamour—but then she has to give glamour to Raj Ahten (because he wants to be the fairest of them all!) and becomes super ugly, and this bums her out. Now, I’m going to cut Iome a little slack here. She isn’t shallow, and I don’t think Farland is being shallow when he writes her lamenting her loss of beauty. Iome is undergoing significant trauma here. Raj Ahten has killed her mom and turned her father into a drooling idiot in front her. And now he’s taken her looks—which, even if not important to her, were a part of her for so long that not having them is weird. It would be like me losing all my hair suddenly: I would get over it, because it isn’t really important whether I have hair or not. But I would be super uncomfortable for the first little while. We don’t have time to see Iome get over it (for reasons I will not get into, spoilers). And we’re told that the endowment also constantly undermines any self-confidence she is trying to regain. Finally, even if Iome is innately not shallow, she has still spent her entire life growing up being told that she is “beautiful” and that her external beauty is linked inextricably to her worth as a person. This narrative, unfortunately present in our society, fucks up girls. That doesn’t excuse the heavy-handed way in which Farland has Harry Styles—er, I mean, Gaborn—swoop in and proclaim loudly and explicitly that “Baby you light up my world like nobody else … You don’t know you’re beautiful / That’s what makes you beautiful.” Because, yes, what Iome totally needs after having her self-worth quashed by a man by being robbed of her external “beauty” is for another man to validate her and her beauty! Farland could have had Iome rediscover and reaffirm her sense of self-worth herself. And that’s essentially the disappointing truth about The Sum of All Men and a lot of similar fantasy fiction: it could be so much more subversive, but it isn’t. This doesn’t necessarily make it bad in the same way that The Big Bang Theory’s increasing tendency to make fun of geeks/nerds rather than with geeks/nerds about geek/nerd stereotypes doesn’t make it bad. (I don’t think the show is all that funny anymore, alas, but I can still appreciate the way in which it is constructed and its stories are told.) Nevertheless, by playing most of the tropes straight (even if, as in the case of the magic system, they are played very expertly) Farlands only achieves competent mediocrity rather than innovative excellence. I can’t say I’m surprised. The blurb on the front cover of this edition is from Terry Brooks, and there’s another on the back from Kevin J. Anderson. Both of these authors share Farland’s comprehensive grasp of the scope and potential for setting in fantasy and science fiction at the expense of shallower characters and predictable stories. The result is the type of book that’s probably an OK read—there are worse novels to be stuck with on an airplane or in a waiting room. But it’s not going to blow your mind.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Connie Jasperson

    This book was first published in 1998, but for some strange reason I had never read any work by David Farland. That omission, however, has been rectified. I am now a drooling fan! The novel begins violently. A man is set upon and injured most gruesomely. He later dies from his injuries, and a series of events is set into motion. Meanwhile, young Runelord, Prince Gaborn Val Orden of Mystarria has traveled to the kingdom of Heredon with the intention of winning the hand of Princess Iome Sylvarrest This book was first published in 1998, but for some strange reason I had never read any work by David Farland. That omission, however, has been rectified. I am now a drooling fan! The novel begins violently. A man is set upon and injured most gruesomely. He later dies from his injuries, and a series of events is set into motion. Meanwhile, young Runelord, Prince Gaborn Val Orden of Mystarria has traveled to the kingdom of Heredon with the intention of winning the hand of Princess Iome Sylvarresta, daughter to King Jas Laren Sylvarresta, longtime friend of House Val Orden. He and his bodyguard, Borrenson meet a woman in the market of the city of Bannisferre. The encounter is quite entertaining, and at the end of it Gaborn arranges for her to agree to marry his bodyguard. With this act immediately we see that Gaborn is wise and generous, and he should be for he has been endowed with the wit, and stamina of several people. Farland has created a unique and believable system of magic which relies on the existence of distinct bodily attributes, such as brawn, grace, and wit. These attributes can be transferred from one individual or even an animal to another in a process known as giving an endowment. Lords who have taken many endowments become extremely powerful, almost superhuman, and are known as Runelords. That is a concept that I really found intriguing. Gaborn's plans are put on hold, however, when he receives word that Raj Ahten, the most powerful Runelord since Daylan Hammer, is leading his army north into Heredon and has nearly reached Castle Sylvarresta. Although Gaborn travels as fast as possible to the castle, he still arrives just moments before Raj Ahten and his forces. He brings word of the invasion to Iome and King Sylvarresta, then quickly sneaks out the back of the castle with help from the herbalist and Earth Warden, Binnesman. Raj Ahten, meanwhile, takes the entire walled city with only a single arrow being fired; King Sylvarresta's men eagerly swing open the gates for him, his numerous endowments of glamour and voice making laymen powerless to confront him. Both King Sylvarresta and Iome are forced to give Raj Ahten endowments to show fealty to their new King. Gaborn risks capture by returning to the castle to rescue Iome and her father, and then he and the princess flee south, intending to warn Gaborn's father, King Orden, who is a few days ride from the city. Raj Ahten, meanwhile, moves his forces out, with a similar intent as Gaborn: track down and kill King Orden. With Raj Ahten gone, Prince Orden's personal bodyguard, Sir Borenson, acting on orders of the King breaks into the dedicate's keep at Castle Sylvarresta and begins slaying all the dedicates. Borenson escapes, and Binnesman learns from the Earth that Raj Ahten may be the least of all their problems. An ancient race of subterranean creatures known as Reavers are preparing to strike. The book is often violent, and frequently frank. It is a grand sweeping epic that made me turn the pages as fast as my kindle would go! The first thing that I noticed as I began this remarkable book was the amazing sense of place and time that Farland conveys in his writing. With minimal strokes he paints the scenery and the emotions of the moment. Immediately as each character was introduced I knew them. There was not one moment where I felt any disbelief. This very original world is well crafted, and the people who inhabit it are fully formed and clearly drawn. Farland’s work flows beautifully, and the emotions of each scene are conveyed seemingly effortlessly. A Runelords Movie is in the works, and David Farland himself has written the screenplay so I think that it will be a real stunner! !

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    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 deem 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. Gripes: · Slow start · Some characters not developed · Overused "Elemental" wizards Raves: · Original ideas for "endowments," creates an intriguing plot · Very well written, had nice flow · 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.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jared Millet

    I am so on the fence about this book. It has a lot to admire and a lot that's just "blah." In the end I can't say that I enjoyed it, but what rubbed me wrong the most about this book is the most ingenious, original, and crucial part of the story - the magic system. It skeeved me so badly I almost quit reading several times, but I toughed it out to the end. I'm glad I did, but I won't be picking up any more in the series. First, the other bits: Intellectually, this is a really complex and rewardin I am so on the fence about this book. It has a lot to admire and a lot that's just "blah." In the end I can't say that I enjoyed it, but what rubbed me wrong the most about this book is the most ingenious, original, and crucial part of the story - the magic system. It skeeved me so badly I almost quit reading several times, but I toughed it out to the end. I'm glad I did, but I won't be picking up any more in the series. First, the other bits: Intellectually, this is a really complex and rewarding novel. Farland excels at creating complicated moral and strategic quandaries for his characters and playing decisions out to their logical conclusions. Emotionally, it's not as hard-hitting as it wants to be. The problem is that the characters don't seem to have any personalities or emotional traits outside of what is dictated by the needs of the story. In other words, if the events of the story hadn't happened, there would be no reason to care or invest in any of these people - not the bland, heroic prince or the noble, kind-hearted princess (both tropes that bug the hell out of me) or any of the other rulers, warriors, and scullery maids. Culturally, the novel is also bland and delves into a bit of Tolkienesque racism (the heroes are good, wholesome European analogues, the villains are evil, treacherous Middle Eastern analogues). But the big draw for the book is the magic system. The titular Runelords are nobles, warriors, and the like who grant themselves superpowers by taking "endowments" from other people - endowments such as brawn, stamina, wit, sight. A Lord might have the Wit of ten men, the Brawn of twenty, and the Sight of five. That's all well and good, but the problem is that it's a zero-sum game. Each attribute the Runelord gains is lost completely by the "dedicates" that he takes them from. In other words, in taking the strength of ten men, the Runelord in question makes ten other people cripples without the strength to even crawl out of bed. In short, this system is horrific. What bothers me in the book is that it's not treated as such. The big bad, Raj Ahten, is a man who abuses this power by taking thousands upon thousands of endowments, making himself the Sum of All Men. Even on the small scale of the average Runelord, though, it's a practice rife for abuse and exploitation. Some nods are made in the direction of it being a noble act to only take endowments when absolutely necessary, but for the most part in the novel it's treated as if it's no big deal for a king or duke to become a superman by maiming and crippling dozens of his subjects - and we're supposed to empathize and root for these bastards. On a personal note, I imagine this book bothered me more than it should have because I've lived with a disability my whole life and generally resented people whose bodies function properly. The thought of some aristocrat inflicting disabilities on purpose for their own personal benefit pushed my "HULK ANGRY" button repeatedly for the length of the whole novel. Yuck.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Петър Стойков

    Изненадващо интересна, с изненадващо добър превод. Книгата взема основния елемент от РПГ игрите, а именно "статистиките" на героите в тях и ги използва, за да създаде цял един човешки свят и цивилизация, базирани на това, че хората могат да си прехвърлят един на друг физически характеристики (сила, зрение и т.н.) и да акумулират характеристики на няколко (или много) други хора. Едновременно с това, авторът успява да избяга от математическата система на тия РПГ игри и да вкара реален, физически и ч Изненадващо интересна, с изненадващо добър превод. Книгата взема основния елемент от РПГ игрите, а именно "статистиките" на героите в тях и ги използва, за да създаде цял един човешки свят и цивилизация, базирани на това, че хората могат да си прехвърлят един на друг физически характеристики (сила, зрение и т.н.) и да акумулират характеристики на няколко (или много) други хора. Едновременно с това, авторът успява да избяга от математическата система на тия РПГ игри и да вкара реален, физически и човешки елемент в цялата работа и така взелият няколко "дара" от други хора не е точно полу-бог, защото огромната сила не прави костите му по-здрави, нито фактът че може да се движи по-бързо, спира действието на центробежната сила, съпротивлението на въздуха и т.н. Всъщност, може да се каже, че тази сила на книгата е и нейната слабост, защото голямо количество читатели (гледам най-харесваните ревюта) не я харесват точно заради този елемент на "реалност" и основното им оплакване може да се синтезира в "как може някой със Сила 1000 и Бързина 1000 да не е неуязвим супермен". На което моя познат Киро от Перник е отговорил отдавна с древната местна мъдрост "Никой не е по-як от винкело." Поздравления за преводача, който е успял да накара текста да звучи сякаш от стара приказка (примерно, главните зли са доста изтърканото Reavers на английски, преведено е като "хали").

  24. 5 out of 5

    Eric Smith

    I think I have tried to read this series before a few years ago and couldn't get past the magic system. I think that I may even have tried to read it when it first came out and was just pissed off by the system at the age of 18 when it hit back in '98 to give it a fair shake. Now don;t get me wrong the magic system here is very unique and well created but I can see the younger version of my self just getting irrationally angry at these characters for how they drain from other characters for thei I think I have tried to read this series before a few years ago and couldn't get past the magic system. I think that I may even have tried to read it when it first came out and was just pissed off by the system at the age of 18 when it hit back in '98 to give it a fair shake. Now don;t get me wrong the magic system here is very unique and well created but I can see the younger version of my self just getting irrationally angry at these characters for how they drain from other characters for their own gain. Yes I know that the issue is discussed and looked at carefully within the series but I could see me back then not liking it. However, a bit older and a bit calmer now I am enjoying the system and series a lot more. I still don't like the giving up of attributes to make another person into a superhuman and the villain of the piece is in desperate need of a good guillotineing (is that a word? eh whatever) but age brings perspective and all that and I certainly liked it. The main characters are both noble and human(mostly) and their choices are desperate ones in awful situations that is had to blame them for even as you want to smack some of them upside the head. Good read, good start, and good buildup for what looks like another solid epic fantasy series.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Obrigewitsch

    I was actually expecting this book to be quite bad. While it does have its flaws, it's a pretty good story actually. It's better than any of the new video game fantasy that seems to be all the rage today, like Brent Weeks and The Warded Man (actually the half about the desert people is decent, it's just the rest that is super lame), or some of the authors that just can't write that somehow got famous like Terry Goodkind or Terry Brooks. But does not stand up to any of the greats. This is the fir I was actually expecting this book to be quite bad. While it does have its flaws, it's a pretty good story actually. It's better than any of the new video game fantasy that seems to be all the rage today, like Brent Weeks and The Warded Man (actually the half about the desert people is decent, it's just the rest that is super lame), or some of the authors that just can't write that somehow got famous like Terry Goodkind or Terry Brooks. But does not stand up to any of the greats. This is the first book so the series could get really bad, I guess I will see as my local library has eaudiobooks for the next 2 books, so I will at least make it to book 3 in the series. I recommend this book to anyone that like epic fantasy, and is looking for more than video game style mindless action with bits of a generic story thrown in. But don't expect great depth of characters. The magic system is pretty cool and so is the overall story, the weakness is in the authors ability to make characters that seem real and keep your attention.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    In 'The Sum of All Men', book one of the long-running 'Runelords Saga', David Farland delivers a masterpiece of epic fantasy writing. Set in the backdrop of Rofehavan, a land full of men, wizards and fantastical creatures, Prince Gaborn val Orden must overcome extreme odds against beasts, sorcerers, politics and his own inner morals in order to save the land from the tyrannical wolf-lord and fulfill a 2000 year old prophecy. The superbly original magic system of endowments, mental and physical ab In 'The Sum of All Men', book one of the long-running 'Runelords Saga', David Farland delivers a masterpiece of epic fantasy writing. Set in the backdrop of Rofehavan, a land full of men, wizards and fantastical creatures, Prince Gaborn val Orden must overcome extreme odds against beasts, sorcerers, politics and his own inner morals in order to save the land from the tyrannical wolf-lord and fulfill a 2000 year old prophecy. The superbly original magic system of endowments, mental and physical abilities that men can grant to one another but at a high price, allows Farland to delve into the machinations of men in power, contrasting the inner workings of the morally corrupt, tyrannical dictator to that of the honour-bound, moral leaders of men. Full of political intrigue, love, oaths, battles and a beautifully crafted magic system, Farland has begun a truely wondeful saga that promises to fulfil the reader's imagination. Comparable to the epics of Goodkind, Brooks and Eddings, the 'Runelords Saga' should be highly treasured in the fantasy genre's hall of fame.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    David Farland here creates a fantastic world that revolves around the notion of Kings and Castles and the typical fights for land. The idea of endowments is one that really works well and is interesting to think about concerning Wit, Metabolism, Grace, etc. It also opens up an immediate series of questions about morales and ethics which are repeatedly brought up. The underlying story of the Prince trying to win over the affection of a Princess takes a format that everybody is used to and adds to David Farland here creates a fantastic world that revolves around the notion of Kings and Castles and the typical fights for land. The idea of endowments is one that really works well and is interesting to think about concerning Wit, Metabolism, Grace, etc. It also opens up an immediate series of questions about morales and ethics which are repeatedly brought up. The underlying story of the Prince trying to win over the affection of a Princess takes a format that everybody is used to and adds to the style of the story. I thought that the start was very slow in places as introducing such a complex world was never going to be easy. However The second half is much faster paced, much more intense and very gripping. I also found the range of narrators quite a good element to have in the book, and even though his is pointed as the main villian, when the chapters are narrated by Raj Ahten you start to warm up to his ways...

  28. 5 out of 5

    {erika}

    I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I found the concept of endowments, forcibles and Dedicates very interesting and took an interest in several of the characters. I have not read many fantasy epics and would like to start. So I may in time come back and look upon this novel less favorably in comparison, but for the time being I enjoyed it. Not as much as Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses series...but I highly doubt I will ever favor ANY fantasy novel series as much. What a wonderful find I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. I found the concept of endowments, forcibles and Dedicates very interesting and took an interest in several of the characters. I have not read many fantasy epics and would like to start. So I may in time come back and look upon this novel less favorably in comparison, but for the time being I enjoyed it. Not as much as Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses series...but I highly doubt I will ever favor ANY fantasy novel series as much. What a wonderful find The Thirteenth House was (and in a used bookstore in the Keys too!). Enough rambling, back to the Runlords. There are three more books in this series and then an additional series with four more books. I feel like I may read the rest at a later date and have enough interest to try, but for now I am content. The conclusion of the story was rather anticlimactic but perhaps this will be remedied in the sequels. Overall, above average and for myself probably worth a future buy.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erin Edgar

    This is a marvelous start to the Runelords epic fantasy series. The series begins by exploring a potentially troubling question: How much do we value people based on their physical atrribubes? In this society, people have figured out a way to magically transfer endowments--such as glamour, wit, metabolism, and stamina--to others. A king from a southern land is taking endowments from thousands of his subjects in order to turn himself into the "sum of all men". He tells everyone (and might even be This is a marvelous start to the Runelords epic fantasy series. The series begins by exploring a potentially troubling question: How much do we value people based on their physical atrribubes? In this society, people have figured out a way to magically transfer endowments--such as glamour, wit, metabolism, and stamina--to others. A king from a southern land is taking endowments from thousands of his subjects in order to turn himself into the "sum of all men". He tells everyone (and might even believe) that he is doing this to fight a very dangerous enemy and to convince others to fight that enemy as well. However, it is apparent to the protagonist--the newly-arisen Earth King--that this person is merely trying to gain more power for himself. This book was rather long--as are all of the books in this series--but I found it a fast-paced read and an intriguing glimpse into this fascinating society in which physical attributes are given and received.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Les Moyes

    This is book one of The Runelord Series, a fascinating look into the human condition, how good people can do evil in the name of good. It speaks to the conflict inherent in each of us. In this book, a young prince, Gaborn Val Orden of Mysteria, travels throughout the land in disguise. His purpose: ask for the hand of Princess Iome of Sylvarresta. While stopping at a tavern, they discover a plot to assassinate Iome’s father. As they journey to warn him, the learn that more than just the king and h This is book one of The Runelord Series, a fascinating look into the human condition, how good people can do evil in the name of good. It speaks to the conflict inherent in each of us. In this book, a young prince, Gaborn Val Orden of Mysteria, travels throughout the land in disguise. His purpose: ask for the hand of Princess Iome of Sylvarresta. While stopping at a tavern, they discover a plot to assassinate Iome’s father. As they journey to warn him, the learn that more than just the king and his family is in danger, but the fate of the Earth is in jeopardy. David Farland is a master of his craft, weaving traditional elements of fantasy into a complex world, complete with alien races, swordsmanship, epic battle scenes, and an entire social system based upon feudalism. I really enjoyed reading this book. Mr. Farland made the characters and world come alive for me.

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