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Runemarks (Runemarks #1)

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  5,613 Ratings  ·  719 Reviews
Maddy Smith was born with a rusty-coloured rune shape on her hand a symbol of the old gods and definitely cause for suspicion. For magic is dangerous. Or so everyone thinks. But Maddy enjoys working magic. Even if it is just to control some pesky goblins.
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published August 2nd 2007 by Doubleday (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30)
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First read: from August 02 to 03, 2011
Second read: from February 07 to 09, 2016
Final rating: 4.25/5 stars
Final rating - for the whole series: 3.5/5 stars

I have read this book first in 2011. Back then I did not even theorize this could get a sequel. But it has. And I am glad for it. This book can be seen as stand-alone book but there were some loose ends for which I didn't give this book five stars. Neither will I this time, but in any case, it deserves to be 4.25. And, damn I forgot how much t
My main complaint about Runemarks was the complexity. The narrative was far too extensive and unfocused. I don’t know much about Norse mythology, so I found myself frequently frustrated with the intricate and complicated Norse histories. I usually prefer being eased into a new world where I’m given time to absorb the characters’ personalities and different politics, etc. It wasn’t my taste.

YABC May 2008
Alethea A
I loved the movie Chocolat and I read a bit of Jigs and Reels, but nothing has hooked me on Joanne Harris as much as this! She started it as a story for her daughter, years later it is a fantastic tale of magic and adventure for all ages. The mythology is Norse, a nice break from the Greek gods if you've been devouring Rick Riordan's Olympians. So soon after reading Michael Scott's The Alchemyst, it's neat to come across more references to Yggdrasil, the World Tree. And if, like me, you love kee ...more
Nov 16, 2012 Helen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Helen by: One of those "pimp your fandom " posts that mentioned shenanigans. A lot.
I made one big pause while reading, so my thoughts are not 100% coherent; I also don't have time for a detailed review right now. I'll just say what made me decide on five rather than four.

-YA WITH FEMALE PROTAGONIST BUT NO ROMANCE. (No, no potential love interests introduced either.)
-Despite target audience, it is much less Bleached Underpants than many other interpretations of Norse Mythology. Also, no Black&White here.
-The recommendation mentioned "shenanigans", but it's not as much about
Abigail H. Leskey
Characters: MADDY is an excellent heroine. She's not too perfect, but well-meaning, brave, daring, and affectionate without mush. She's not fluffy or weepy and she doesn't have an attitude. If in the one part she's momentarily whiny it's understandable and she stops very soon. And can she throw a mind bolt!

ONE-EYE, Odin, is a puzzle to Maddy. Her friend, mentor; but is he only utilizing her?

LOKI--unpredictable. Charming; scarred; a rogue; snarky to the limit, with a dark past. If you asked him
Jul 27, 2013 Julie rated it liked it
This was a really fun way to spend some reading hours. It's YA Fantasy, which I wouldn't normally read, but Harris's style proved too seductive for me. She laid out a trail of breadcrumbs from the first paragraph and before I knew it I was deep inside the mountain, and the story. Caught, and mesmerized, there was no way out, but through it.

I will admit to one or two brain spasms along the way as I tried to make sense of the complex Norse mythology, with which Harris deviates from the convention
Jan 19, 2009 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Imagine that Ragnarok happened, Asgard fell, and in the aftermath the survivors stumbled blindly forward to build a new world on the ashes of the old. Imagine, also, that the ancient runes have power for those that are born marked with them. Five hundred years after the end, much of the world is dominated by the Order, which has done its best to eradicate rune-magic and magical creatures of all kinds - with a thoroughness comparable to the Inquisition at its worst. But on the far side of the mou ...more
Joseph Leskey
Oct 01, 2016 Joseph Leskey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ANBODY; else the balance between Chaos and Order will fail
Recommended to Joseph by: Abigail H. Leskey
Now this book is so complicated, that first off, you may wish to know that this will be a rather complicated review (actually, this is probably false; it could be a very boring and rushed review). Sometimes, I overreact to complications, therefore, this review may unintentionally be a manifestation of Chaos (nearly definitely). Secondly, I liked it [the book [Runemarks]] better the second time I read it. Thirdly, I liked it a great deal the first time, but something just didn't click. Fourthly, ...more
Fangs for the Fantasy
Oct 12, 2012 Fangs for the Fantasy rated it it was amazing
I almost didn't read this book to be honest, the cover and the synopsis on the back did little to recommend it. Had it not been for the comments on Goodreads, which gave a greater detail of the story, I never would have read this book. If I were Harris, I would have been enraged at the person who wrote the synopsis because it gave no hint of the great story inside. Prepare yourself for some serious fanpoodling, you have been warned.

From the moment of her birth Maddy Smith had always been an outs
Jun 29, 2010 Jason rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was a pretty good book. Not amazing, but not half bad either--the kind of rollicking adventure, with themes of self-esteem and rebellion against intolerant, controlling leadership, that seems to have taken the world of young adult literature by storm. I had already fallen in love with the subtle overtones of fairy-tale in 'Chocolat,' so when I discovered this, Joanne Harris' first excursion into YA fantasy lit, I picked it up and devoured it eagerly.

To say that I was disappointed with the
Jul 17, 2011 Hilary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, fantasy, juvenile
We're all familiar with the author who lives in denial of their genre writing ("It doesn't have spaceships in, so it can't be science fiction!"). Joanne Harris is somewhat the opposite; for years she's been slyly slipping fantastic elements into her otherwise resolutely mainstream fiction and getting away with it. Here she goes for all-out fantasy, and it's a sad reflection on the publishing world today that in order to do so she's had to have it marketed as YA. This is a lovely book: a joyous, ...more
Edward's Ghost Engine (also known as.......... Jinky Spring)
I know its been a long time since I read this (or at least tried to) but as this is about Norse mythology I found the perfect meme!

Let me start off this review by saying I'm a huge fan of all kinds of mythology from all over the world and with all the YA mythology books these days being about Greek mythology I wanted to try something different. But I've got to admit that right from the start the writing was dull and I knew this book and I weren't really going to get on. Seriously though there i
Mar 22, 2013 Nikki rated it liked it
Reread this really quickly to refresh my memory on the plot before I read Runelight. Still enjoyable, although it's kinda lacking in Joanne Harris' usual precise plotting -- this time through, I felt like she made it a bit too convoluted, a bit too... I don't know. I wasn't so impressed by the plotting in The Lollipop Shoes and Peaches for Monsieur le Curé, likewise with this on a second read.

Still fun, though, like I said, and even if you know your Norse myth and think you know how it's going t
Arol Jahns
I am not a huge fan of the young adult fantasy genre, but I read "Runemarks" because of it's connection to Norse mythology (I'm 1/2 Norwegian) and I was blown away by Joanne Harris' ability to tell an epic story of good versus evil with such wit and dedication to crafting such amazing and interesting characters.

I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys films like "Lord of the Rings" and "The Narnia Chronicles", but doesn't typically read the source material. "Runemarks" creates such a vivid
Oct 17, 2011 Jonathan rated it liked it
I would probably pass this as a three and a half star novel. It was a clever idea and well executed but it was not a novel that remained within my memory as a classic. Perhaps I found the writing a little less impressive than I expected. Perhaps it lacked a little sparkle. Or perhaps my own familiarity with the Norse legends she alters affected my reading of this novel. Either way it was enjoyable and I fully recommend it if you're into myths, legends and magic.
Dec 30, 2015 Jojo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Opinião em breve
Opinião do blogue Chaise Longue:

Nos primeiros dez anos da sua vida, Joanne refugiou-se na leitura, nos dez anos seguintes escreveu histórias a imitar as dos seus autores preferidos e depois, finalmente, começou a escrever as suas próprias histórias mas houve uma história, escrita durante os seus dezanove anos que a autora acabou por recuperar, uma história inspirada pelo seu amor à mitologia nórdica, originalmente chamada Witchlight e que foi recusada pel
Oct 24, 2014 Katerina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recensioni
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jessica Draper
Aug 14, 2009 Jessica Draper rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Someone who liked Norse mythology but wasn't particularly picky.
Recommended to Jessica by: Online review
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 05, 2015 Anastasia rated it really liked it
-- Originally reviewed at Here There Be Books. --

I've gotten more and more fond of books with Norse mythology in them, probably because I took a really good medieval history class last semester that covered quite a bit of Viking history, which naturally made me more interested in everything to do with Viking and so on. One thing I've noticed about these books, though, is that the protagonists tend to be all boys, and I prefer to read books about girls (because I am one, and, by the way, there ar
Aug 05, 2010 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kate by: Teen Book Club selection
It took me so long to read this book... not sure why, because it was very enjoyable. But I only finished it in the nick of time before my book club today!

Maddy Smith has always been different. She was born with a runemark (sometimes called a "ruinmark"), and the only person who understands her is a wanderer nicknamed "One-Eye." One-Eye teaches her old myths and legends about the gods and shows her how to use her runemark to cast cantrips.

Then one day One-Eye leads her to a hill where there are
Mels Ht
Aug 03, 2013 Mels Ht rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. I guess I'll start with the positive things about it. First off, it's well-written, the Norse mythology is accurate and it has quite an imaginative adventure.


There were so many things happening all at once that I failed to get a firm grip on the story and digest it thoroughly. It felt like too much information for a single book- it could have easily been two books. Therefore, I did not feel I got to know the characters and process the story in a deep
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joe Gibson
Aug 08, 2012 Joe Gibson rated it it was ok
I'd been asking my friend for a book to read for ages and in the end she handed me Runemarks. At first I was intimidated by it's size but thought what the hell and started reading it. To be completely honest, it was a mess of a read for me and I really found myself forcing myself to read it and looking back I don't know how I did in all honesty. The writing of the book is great don't get me wrong but the way it's planned out isn't. I was utterly confused by the climax of the book and finished th ...more
Nov 08, 2014 Polly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't at all sure about this for the first hundred pages or so, but after that it got really good. It's full of Norse mythology (which I love), magic, adventure, and has a happy/sad ending that I can't get out of my mind.
The one thing that really bothers me about this book is that it was marketed as a children's book, for the bad old reason that it's about a kid. Other than that fact, it is not a kids' book. It's too heavy for people who are expecting a Harry-Potter story. Not that Harry Pot
Feb 20, 2013 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books
This book took me a few months to finish, not because I didn't like it, but because I liked the characters so much that I kept freaking out that they might die and putting it aside so I didn't have to read that happening.

There are dozens and dozens of things I liked about this book plot-, character-, and turn-of-phrase-wise, but the characterizations of Odin and Loki were hands down the most compelling for me. See the above paragraph!

This was enjoyable enough that I am probably going to buy my o
I should have loved this book, Joanne Harris is one of my favourite authors, but somehow this book just missed greatness. It is a tale of the Norse gods, the old gods and the new gods, and of a quest to save the world.

I can't put my finger on the reason it wasn't gripping for me. Parts of the story really captured my imagination but overall I think there were too many characters and, I suppose in true mythological tradition, they were all a little one dimensional. As a mature reader it not enou
Jan 07, 2008 Lisa rated it it was ok
This book isn't usually my area of interest, but I figured I shoudl read it since a lot of the students here seem to like that kind of stuff.

I like the idea of a book involving Norse Gods, but I felt like Runemarks was way too long! It is too much of an adventure story to appeal to most older middle school students, but its 550+ pages make it a little too much for the average 4th & 5th grader. Not sure who the target audience is.
Wow! This story was very deep with so many character to follow. Very creative! I really like this book. I'm looking forward to the next one.
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Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. She has also written a DR WHO novella for the BBC, has scripted guest episodes for the game ZOMBIES, RUN!, and is currently engaged in a number of musical theatre pr ...more
More about Joanne Harris...

Other Books in the Series

Runemarks (3 books)
  • The Gospel of Loki
  • Runelight (Runemarks, #2)

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“In any case, fire burns; that's its nature, and you can't expect to change that. You can use it to cook your meat or to burn down your neighbor's house. And is the fire you use for cooking any different from the one you use for burning? And does that mean you should eat your supper raw?"

Maddy shook her head, still puzzled. "So what you're saying is . . . I shouldn't play with fire," she said at last.

Of course you should," said One-Eye gently. "But don't be surprised if the fire plays back.”
“A thing named is a thing tamed.” 66 likes
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