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Rune Blade #1

Kingmaker's Sword

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Eons after his people are torn apart into the rival kingdoms of Skai and Tyr, a Tyran prince is confronted by a beautiful Skai warrior who seeks the powerful Rune Blade that is in his possession. Original.

336 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published June 19, 1996

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Ann Marston

20 books38 followers

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5 stars
181 (27%)
4 stars
239 (36%)
3 stars
162 (24%)
2 stars
53 (8%)
1 star
19 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews
Profile Image for Angie.
645 reviews996 followers
November 21, 2009
Several years ago, while wandering through the science fiction and fantasy section of the local Media Play, I crouched down to see what was on the bottom shelf in the M section. My eyes caught on a book that was faced out and that featured two warriors, one red-headed and one blonde, both of them sporting copious amounts of cloudy hair and swooping kilts, clutching swords in their hands. I'd never heard of KINGMAKER'S SWORD or author Ann Marston before, but I decided to pick it up based on the fact that it was a mass market paperback (and thus inexpensive) and that I liked the colors and the soft, matte finish to the cover. I noted that it was the first in a trilogy--the Rune Blade trilogy--and that the other two books were on the shelf so I could easily come back for them if the first book entertained.

Mouse is a slave. Dubbed Foxmouse because of his flaming red hair, he is now known as just Mouse and he is about to make his escape. Two nights ago his sole friend in the world was savagely assaulted and murdered while he watched and that horrific act simultaneously crushed Mouse and did away with any reason he had to stay in the filthy hole he has lived in for as long as he could remember. While on his headlong flight to freedom, Mouse runs into his past in the form of a hulking Tyran clansman on a journey to find his long-lost nephew. Suspecting Mouse may just be that boy, Cullin dav Medroch dubs the boy Kian and takes him under his wing. On their way back to Tyra, Cullin and Kian encounter a determined swordswoman by the name of Kerridwen who is on a quest of her own. When Kerridwen and Kian accidentally cross blades a bond is forged that takes them both unpleasantly by surprise and shapes the direction their paths will take from that point on.

I was pleasantly surprised by KINGMAKER'S SWORD. Judging by the kilts on the cover, I should have known to expect a rollicking Celtic-inspired sword-and-sorcery adventure, and that's exactly what it was. Tyra is essentially a slightly altered Scotland, along with the island of Celi and the province of Skai, where Kerri hails from. The book opens with a breakdown of the different seasons in this world, a pronunciation guide, and a map--sort of the holy triumverate of opening pages when it comes to pulpy sword-and-sorcery novels. There is nothing earth-shatteringly new in these books, but they are undeniably fun, smoothly written, and peopled with enjoyably heroic characters pitted against dastardly evil sorcerers against a suitably epic backdrop. I ate them up with a spoon and they have worn rather well over the years. This trilogy follows three generations of Kian's family, including his children and grandchildren. And while I'm usually dismayed when a series jumps generations like that, I have to say that is not the case here as the second novel, The Western King, is definitely the finest installment. Marston follows this trilogy up with another, the Sword in Exile trilogy, which continues the story of the rune blades and the line of the princes of Skai. It, too, is worth a read. Both series are now out of print, but if you can find a copy I do recommend them, particularly for fans of Jennifer Roberson, Susan Dexter, and Moira J. Moore.
Reading Order: Kingmaker's Sword, The Western King, and Broken Blade
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,938 reviews428 followers
November 8, 2015
Not interested enough to even contemplate finishing it off. It simply felt formulaic and that is not what I am looking for right now. Perhaps one day I could return if I even felt the need to read of fantasy-Scots within a run-of-the-mill story.
Profile Image for Sofia.
13 reviews2 followers
September 20, 2016
So I initially bough the Rune Blade Trilogy because it's a trilogy (and I'm a sucker for those), all three volumes were available at the same time (I loathe book hunting and am too cheap to shop much elsewhere other than half-price), and the people on the cover are wearing kilts! (I'm a reenactor and my first regiment was with a highland group, kilts mean it's got to be awesome, right?)

In the end, I was very pleased with this book purchase. It was enjoyable to read, I got invested in the characters and the new world they lived in. This place combined a historical setting with just enough magic to enchant the fantasy side of me. A host of characters trying to fight social norms as hard as they fight the bad guys and things turning out differently from expected. Also a touch of romance, but nothing too terribly cheesy or distracting from the main story.

I'm very glad I bought this book!
Profile Image for Becca.
1,565 reviews2 followers
February 10, 2010
I was expecting this to be corny or stereotypical. It does have a lot of stereotypical characters, but the plot is wonderfully creative. I like how the characters make detour after detour, ending up where they need to be without realizing that they're there. I am also a fan of the ending, which I didn't quite expect. The one major flaw: dear feisty female lead, why are you marrying somebody who doesn't take you seriously and whose first thought is always to get you out of the way, even though you are capable and have helped him out before? Clearly he should be kept away from women until he gets it.
Profile Image for Abby.
294 reviews33 followers
May 22, 2016
This book fell a little flat. The premise was promising, what with the hero starting life as a slave boy, his mysterious rescuer, etc. However, I thought the twists were fairly predictable and I didn't feel all that close to the characters. This book read like some sort of early Scottish/Celtic history, but with fantasy elements mixed in. Perhaps some will like it more than I did.
377 reviews1 follower
February 27, 2021
I enjoyed this book that my mom recommended, although it was rather hard to keep all the unusual names and tribes differentiated.
Profile Image for Adrienne.
317 reviews5 followers
April 19, 2019
Ann Marston weaves a superb beginning to her Rune Blade Trilogy that carries through her Sword in Exile Trilogy. Marston's characters are interesting and believable: Red Kian of Skai is wonderful! Kerri is a thoroughly provocative woman, and a strong female figure. The first chapter is told in 3rd person, but the rest is told in first person. Ann Marston is a wonderful first person storyteller. The world she creates is not too unbelievable, as can happen in many fantasy or scifi worlds.

What's the plot? Kerri is looking for her prince, a born bheancoran -- a warrior-maid who acts as personal guard, confidante, friend to her prince. She'll know him by the bond she has with her prince. Is her prince the barbarian Tyr, Kian? Kian does not want to be a prince. He loves his life as a merchant train guard, traveling with his uncle Cullin. The Rune Blade he carries is a mystery, "Take up the Strength of Celi" it reads, but only to the one who is the prince born to carry it.

Once you start on this book, it should hook you to read through the following generations in the Rune Blade Trilogy and the Sword in Exile Trilogy. I'd recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy, has interests in Celtic stories, or swords. Visit Ann Marston's webpage. At this time it is a little out-of-date, but a great place to read a snip from the book.
Profile Image for Sarah Mac.
1,078 reviews
July 26, 2017
Truly, I don't remember the details of this series except that I liked them & stuck them in my keeper box with Pern & the Sunrunners. I do, however, recall reading them instead of doing physics homework, which helps account for my dismal grades in that arena. *halo*

IIRC, they're one of the better Celtic-based fantasy sagas...but I was a teenager when declaring this, so take it with a grain of salt. :P Each book focuses on a different group of protags (sometimes skipping generations) with plenty of swords & magic & true love, fight scenes, invading darkness -- that sort of thing. Many of the couples resembled Eowyn & Faramir in looks & demeanor, which also helps account for my fondness. (Eowyn/Faramir = Tolkien OTP, yo -- bow down. ;))

There are 2 trilogies & I enjoyed both, though, as with the Sunrunner books, I preferred this first trio. There are some dark moments, but they're not 'dark fantasy' per se -- probably geared more toward female readership than the Sunrunners, but hey. No judging. ;)
Profile Image for Ashlynn Prins.
16 reviews
April 7, 2022
I loved this book all the way up till a certain beloved character died (which I sadly saw coming). After their death I felt as though the author got bored of the story and rushed to the end. I became very disappointed in the story after the beloved character died. It almost felt like a different author took up the story and tried to finish it. Nothing was consistent near the end and even the villain was boring. I'm sorry for the harsh critique. I think I'm frustrated because it had such potential for a good story and just fell flat at the very end, like a good beer that sat out in the sun for way too long.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jean.
912 reviews35 followers
September 24, 2017

A Lost Sword..

This book centers around Mouse, his escape to freedom and the people he meets after his escape.

The characters, Cullin, Kian and Kerri were well written and vividly described.

The story line included swords, friendship, and loyalty making it an Overall, engaging fantasy.

Austin Vanfleet did well with the narration.

"This audio book was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review."

Profile Image for Sean Helms.
270 reviews7 followers
November 7, 2017
Enjoyable escapist story full of action in this 'Scotland-esque' setting. Kian is the central character and the story is told from his point of view. He has some pretty cool abilities and carries a sword that has a bit of a mind of its own.
This book is well worth the time and I'm going to read the sequel; hopefully it's as entertaining as this one was.
9 reviews
March 10, 2019
For the beginning of a series, this book does have a beginning, a middle, and an end. I like her story telling, and I want to read more. But if I can't get more of her books, I'm very satisfied with the ending of this one. A very fast read.
Profile Image for Maria Elmvang.
Author 2 books99 followers
March 29, 2012
I received this series via a Christmas book exchange, and picked it up knowing absolutely nothing about it, but it very quickly caught my attention. Set in a fantastical version of Scotland (very obvious, as the men wear kilts, say "ken" for "know" and even call outlanders a word very similar to sassenach) I fell in love with both the universe and the main characters. It's the first book in a trilogy, but unlike many first novels, I didn't feel like most of the page-time was spent establishing the universe and setting the scene for the future novels. It was fast-paced and action-filled and though the author didn't pull any punches, it didn't seem heartlessly so.

I'll be looking forward to seeing where she takes it from here, even though this book is so nicely contained that I don't feel like I absolutely have to read the next to get the full benefit from it.
Profile Image for Rebecca Smucker.
71 reviews4 followers
June 25, 2013
This book is probably my favorite of the 2-trilogy series. It sets up a very long story, both the interplay between two royal families in a fictional Celtic world and, later, the invasion of a much more Arabian culture.

If you are the kind of person who doesn't appreciate reading the same book over and over again, I'd probably just stick with the first 2 or 3 books. You will notice, if you read these back-to-back, that a lot of the scenes will give you deja-vu. I didn't actually check, but I wouldn't be surprised if the author lifted entire scenes and re-used them in later books.

That being said, this is a fun book and pretty well-worth a read. Just don't get sucked in unless you REALLY like it!
Profile Image for Claire.
1,081 reviews18 followers
July 5, 2012
Oh I wish I had kept my copies of this trilogy and it's follow-up set!!! Never ending thanks to my friend Betsy for introducing me. These books have been floating around in my mind for a couple years, but I had forgotten all important info that would help me find them (author, title, character names). Finally thanks to searching likely Goodreads lists, I found it on a Celtic Fantasy list. I've read that they are out of print, so I'm off to scour the internet to replace mine. Let that be a lesson to you kids, hold on to your favorite books, even if you feel you've outgrown them - you never know when you might suffer a bit of nostalgia.
Profile Image for Nancy.
150 reviews9 followers
November 3, 2016
I first read this book when I was around 14 years old, and now, 16 years later, I can still appreciate it. I absolutely loved it the first time around, when I was a newcomer to the fantasy genre, and it was a great read now, when I qualify as a seasoned veteran.

The story follows the path of a boy turned man in a quest against darkness that takes the form of a evil man who uses blood magic to gain power. There's plenty of sword fighting, a touch of romance (rated PG), and a love between a father figure and son that I admire. And I always love a good, stubborn female protagonist, who rounds out the cast of characters.

An enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Camilla.
916 reviews7 followers
December 1, 2015
First installment of a fantasy trilogy. I had fun, but was frustrated by the way every single important detail was spoon-fed to the reader. Honestly, if you can't trust me to pick up on details and let my brain start churning them over on their own accord, then I'm not going to trust your storytelling. I want that "surprising yet inevitable" ending, and this story was too predictable, too stale for me to continue the trilogy. The epic fantasy storytelling elements were all there, but the stroke of a master storyteller was not.
Profile Image for K H.
295 reviews2 followers
May 7, 2020
Will definitely be on my shelf to read again! Along with a great plot and awesome characters, I really appreciated how the female-male dynamics were created. They definitely ring true to the medieval fantasy Europe that this -and many other fantasy novels- employ. Unlike some trash fantasy that tries to have this 'realistic' setting while also subtly perpetrating that if a woman was just as good as a man at being a warrior or had men's respect she would be equal, this book is very clear that even between friendships and relationships women and men are not equal. Accurate.
Profile Image for Allison.
141 reviews6 followers
November 10, 2009
This is actually 2 trilogy series..they are all wonderful. Ann's writing just will keep you glued, I could hardly wait for the next one to come out for these. She is also able to really write some dark parts that will surprise you. I was so grossed out that I had to keep reading in some parts..it was awful...
These books are some favorites that I have kept in my own collection.
Can never give away the good ones!
Profile Image for Doranna Durgin.
Author 118 books221 followers
August 17, 2010
This one was a weird mix of loving the characters and the language, but feeling used and abused by the various storytelling techniques; for me, they were not successfully employed, and will keep me from reading the two remaining books in the trilogy. But I tend to feel, as a writer and a reader, that it's important to tell a story fairly. It's definitely a "your mileage may vary" situation.
Profile Image for Brenda.
1,406 reviews36 followers
August 31, 2017
On re-read, this went down from 5 stars to 3 stars. It was fairly entertaining, but I just don't think it was well-written enough to be a 5 star book. It's a pretty run of the mill fantasy that is mostly forgettable.
353 reviews
May 28, 2014
(Fantasy 1996) First book. Celtic fantasy. There is too much war and sadness, but that is pretty accurate for the times, I believe. Magic and love also figure pretty prominently in the story. I liked it.
Profile Image for Melissa.
11 reviews
May 5, 2016
I started it, but couldn't really get into this book so I'm not going to rate it. It sparked a full year of not making time to read anything recreationally. This is in no way a negative review of the book. I'm going to give it another chance some time in the future.
Profile Image for T J.
422 reviews4 followers
October 11, 2016
This is a easy fun read. Mouse is a slave but he has not been broken by it and a big dream of becoming a great swordsman. This is a Celtic tale of a boy, a sword and magic. High adventure and well spun storytelling at it's best. Looking forward to book 2: The Western King.
Profile Image for Jaide B.
153 reviews
April 20, 2022

Mention of a horrific gang-rape—and I use fantasy to escape. Ann Marston is a very talented writer—very poetic snd lyrical—but her obsessive description of injuries and blood borders on fan-fiction.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 38 reviews

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