Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Runelords: The Sum of All Men


The first entry of the epic fantasy series The Runelords opens with maps of the world and the various cities and castles where its events occur, and is divided into five “books” that indicate the days in which the narrative transpires. On the nineteenth day of the month of harvest, effigies of the Earth King festoon the city around Castle Sylvarresta, with a man named Dreys imperiled in an attempt on his life. Around a hundred miles southward, Prince Gaborn Val Orden faces his own troubles, and Chemoise gets word that her betrothed was attacked while on guard duty, and the assassins are sought.

On the twentieth day in the month of harvest, Prince Gaborn rides through the forests of Dunnwood silently, and turns back to face the army in pursuit. Sylvarresta’s people are still preparing for battle, with Iome understanding little of what transpires. Iome herself ponders love, with the lord Raj Ahten busy battling the North. Gaborn is summoned to the Dedicates’ kitchen, where he poses as “Aleson the Devotee,” and finds that master magician Binnesman administers an herb to a kitchen maid. Gaborn himself ultimately speaks with the earth and is named Earthborn.

On the twenty-first day in the month of harvest, thirty miles south of Castle Sylvarresta, a high rock called Tor Hollick rises above the Dunnwood, and Orden’s water wizards assemble enough mist in a flask to hide an entire army. Binnesman is captured and brought before Raj Ahten, with Iome a witness. Meanwhile, Gaborn carries his companion Rowan to safety, and witnesses an eighty-foot-tall flame woman as he hides in an alleyway, and eventually flees into a necropolis. Raj Ahten’s army marches for Longmot, and Iome soon hears about Gaborn being named an Earthborn.

On the twenty-second day of harvest, Borenson begins a gruesome night as a storm comes, with Raj Ahten’s army coming to Hayworth. King Mendellas Draken Orden ponders how to best defend his stronghold, with fellow monarch Sylvarresta having sent a message that the Duchess had overthrown Raj Ahten’s forces where she resided. King Orden laments his missing son, who rides into the village of Hobtown with Iome. Several climactic battles end the first entry of the series, with Gaborn still a novice in his newfound abilities, and Iome feeling closer than ever to him.

Overall, the first Runelords book definitely shows promise, given its decent mythos and depth, but somewhat falters with its slight convolution, with the general narrative not being overly memorable, along with some odd nomenclatural choices, although the novel is fortunately not oversaturated with characters. Some definition and reminders of the mythos that the story weaves to distinguish itself from other stories within the fantasy genre would have been welcome, as well, particularly with terminology such as “Days.” There’s definitely potential in this series, but I’m somewhat hesitant to recommend it.

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