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Runelords, by David Farland

Runelords

It's rough when an author writes the first book in a series and leaves it with no clear-cut conclusion or victory at the end.

When Terry Brooks wrote the Sword of Shannara, the Warlock Lord was defeated at the end. When Robert Jordan wrote Eye of the World, a couple of the Forsaken bite it at the end. Even Tolkien gives us a clear victory at the end of The Hobbit, if not in Fellowship of the Ring.

So the lack of clear-cut victory after Runelords is a downer. With the exception of the protagonist, who is too much a cookie-cutter hero, I liked the characters, especially a warrior named Borenson, who ends the book as an emotional wreck, albeit still sane. And the creatures and races are excellent too. Too seldom do fictional nonhuman races fall within that range between human and animal intelligence - as do Farland's Ferrin - and seldom are enemy monsters as strange and fearsome as the Reavers he's created.

But I'm torn as to whether I like the primary magic in his setting - the bestowing of "Endowments". Within this setting people can grant others an "Endowment" of brawn, grace, metabolism, wit, sight, hearing, or smell. This leaves the recipient with an exceptional quality, and leaves the donor a cripple, lacking entirely that which he has donated. Great "Runelords" with hundreds of endownments exist, and as you might guess, they are superhuman. It's interesting, but I find it somewhat tiresome.

All in all, the book is not that bad - I may read the sequel.

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