The Runelords Series (first series)
Written by David Farland, or David Wolverton for his scifi fans, the Runelords brings the reader into a fantastic world of magic, runes and strange creatures. This series really brought me back into reading after years of gaming and movies. It easily does this through simplistic story telling with an over ethical hero and a truly evil villain.
Magic system: The magic system of the Runelords is what really dragged me in. In this world, the wealth of a nation is driven by a substance called blood metal. (cough* cough* oil cough* cough*). This metal is used to create small brands with runes on them. These runes are used to grant endowments through the transfer of attributes(strength, dexterity, charisma, etc, for all of my fellow D&D fans) from one person to another. Those who receive these endowments are considered Runelords. They are responsible for protecting the Dedicates, who gave up the endowment. It is important to note that the loss of an attribute has a price. Those who give up strength become feeble. Giving up charisma makes a person ugly. Even death can result if the body of a dedicate looses too much of an attribute. Remember, a person can only be a Dedicate once, but the amount of an attributes transfer differs depending on the rune and person doing the ritual. The big trick to the system is that the death of a Dedicate removes the endowment from the Runelord. If the Runelord dies, the Dedicate gets the endowment back.
World: The world of humans is a continent that is divided into three realms. Rofehaven takes up a majority of the northern half of the continent. The culture is, mostly, based off of Medieval Europe, complete with knights and castles. Sixteen nations break up Rofehaven. The Dunnwood, an important haunted forest, is located in the northwest section. The realm of Rofehaven is best known for its steel. To Rofehaven’s southwest is the Middle East-like dessert region of Indhopal. It is known for its rich blood metal mines in the south.(still sounds like oil to me). By the time the story begins, Indhopal has been united from fourteen separate nations by the villain, Raj Ahten. In the southeast of the continent lies Inkarra. As it is not a big part of the first trilogy, I will not go into too much detail. The inhabitants are a nocturnal breed of humans with very pale skin and hair, and “ice white” eyes. They are mostly seen in the series as traders who sometimes visit Rofehaven.
Hero: The hero of the series is Gaborn Val Orden, heir to Mystarria, the largest and most wealthy kingdom of Rofehaven. Gaborn is the most ethical hero I have ever seen. (sometimes annoyingly so). At some points he seems too good to be real. But, to be fair, his strong morals is used to drive the true message of this book. In David’s own words,
Young prince Gaborn Val Orden is a conscientious objector, a young man who is torn by the knowledge that those who love him and serve the best must make such a terrible sacrifice for their kingdom.
Villain: Raj Ahten is the diabolical evil entity of the series. He is shown to be the polar opposite of Gaborn. As the ruler of Indhopal, he takes thousands of endowments in an attempt to become the Sum of All Men. The Sum of All Men is a legend of how one man who takes enough endowments can become immortal and retain his attributes even after the deaths of his Dedicates. Raj Ahten gains many of the endowments through the use of money and the charisma that he has been endowed with. Because of these practices, he is considered a Wolf Lord and is hunted by the Knights Equitable. He truly is one of those villains that you love to hate.
Conclusion: So you want to know what I think of the series? The writing paints a picture of this spectacular world that you will want to know more about. The character development seem a little weak at some points, but it gives the message of how leaders should use their power without abusing it a chance to shine through. After reading the first series, I promise you will want to read the next five books. (I know only four more are listed, but he is working on book nine. I hope he gets it out this year). The story is strong and the magic system is riveting to a D&D fan, like myself. The twists and turns will keep you turning the pages of this one. All in all, I give it 4.5 swords. If you’re just getting into fantasy, this will seal the deal.
4.5 swords out of 5