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The Runelords (The Runelords #1)

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  12,379 ratings  ·  312 reviews
Young Prince Gaborn Val Orden of Mystarria is traveling in disguise on a journey to ask for the hand of the lovely Princess Iome of Sylvarresta when he and his warrior bodyguard spot a pair of assassins who have set their sights on the princess's father. The pair races to warn the king of the impending danger and realizes that more than the royal family is at risk--the ver ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 613 pages
Published July 1999 by Tor Fantasy (first published June 1998)
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Mistborn by Brandon SandersonThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Way of Kings by Brandon SandersonThe Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Most Interesting Magic System
65th out of 1,501 books — 5,259 voters
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinJ.R.R. Tolkien 4-Book Boxed Set by J.R.R. TolkienThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
The Best Epic Fantasy
121st out of 2,313 books — 16,306 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
Jan 27, 2008 Tom rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tom by: Professor Taylor, BYU
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.
The book takes place in the fantasy kingdom of Ro
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
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
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.

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
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
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 ...more
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
Dave Hart
Oct 23, 2012 Dave Hart rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: younger fantasy readers, teenagers
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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
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
Upon beginning this book I could see that Farland certainly has had an influence over Brandon Sanderson's writings which is why I wanted to read it. The main magical system is complex and well thought out with rules and laws, benefits and disadvantages. I also thought, and liked, the fact that it could be a bit morbid at times. For me it added a certain reality to it and forced me to look on the moral character of those taking endowments, the Rune Lords.
On the other end of the magical system we
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
Feb 04, 2010 {eri} rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in fantasy epics
Recommended to {eri} by: GoodReads peeps
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 ...more
Doc Opp
Such a good premise, so poorly executed. The basic notion of the world is that people can grant their own strength, speed, wit, etc. to another. This leaves the dedicate an invalid, but creates people with twice the strength/speed/wit etc. of a normal person. Or 10 times that strength if they have 10 dedicates. This changes warfare, politics... well, everything. It has so much premise.

But the characters are bland and change personality depending on the needs of the story. Basic facts change as
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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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
Runelords is a solid fantasy book, based on a world with a solid magic system that isn't just glazed over the story, but is an integral and riveting part of the whole novel. David Farland is an author who doesn't shy away from making his characters experience the full scope of life, from joy to despair. Even better, he doesn't shy away from killing them off either, and nothing makes a story more interesting then knowing that good won't necessarily always prevail, and not everyone is always safe! ...more
Brian Lee
I will admit that Dave is a personal friend of mine and I read this book in manuscript form about a year and a half before its publication. From what I remember, the draft I read was a bit more dark and gritty than the book that eventually came out in print. I think I liked his original draft more than the finished product. It seemed the editors at TOR kinda had him lighten the tone and ending a bit. I could be wrong, it's been about 13-14 years since i read both the manuscript and the published ...more
Eoghann Irving
Right its the first part of a fantasy series. So lets get out the checklist:

Our Hero is a Prince……………………….CHECK
Our Heroine is a Princess………………….CHECK
The villain is a powerful sorceror…………..CHECK
A “great evil” is about to sweep the land…….CHECK
Only our hero can prevent it………………..CHECK
The cover art depicts a scene from the book wrongly and in a terribly clichéd manner…………………….CHECK

But you know what they say about judging a book by its cover. This book is actually rather good. I’m certainly looking
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Runelords: How will it end? 1 8 Jun 29, 2012 11:03AM  
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David Farland is the author of the bestselling Runelords series, including Chaosbound, The Wyrmling Horde and Worldbinder. He also writes science-fiction as David Wolverton. He won the 1987 Writers of the Future contest, and has been nominated for a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award. Farland also works as a video game designer, and has taught writing seminars around the U.S. and Canada. He lives in Sa ...more
More about David Farland...

Other Books in the Series

The Runelords (9 books)
  • Brotherhood of the Wolf (Runelords, #2)
  • Wizardborn (Runelords, #3)
  • The Lair of Bones (Runelords, #4)
  • Sons of the Oak (Runelords, #5)
  • Worldbinder (Runelords, #6)
  • The Wyrmling Horde (Runelords, #7)
  • Chaosbound (Runelords, #8)
  • A Tale of Tales (Runelords, #9)
Brotherhood of the Wolf (Runelords, #2) Wizardborn (Runelords, #3) The Lair of Bones (Runelords, #4) Sons of the Oak (Runelords, #5) Worldbinder (Runelords, #6)

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