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(Runemarks #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  7,810 ratings  ·  935 reviews
Master storyteller Joanne Harris has created a magical and epic romp– a fresh, funny, and wonderfully irreverent new take on the old Norse tales, sure to be enjoyed by readers young and old.

Seven o’clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the end of the world, and goblins had been at the cellar again. . . . Not that anyone would admit it was goblins. In Maddy Sm
Hardcover, 528 pages
Published August 2nd 2007 by Doubleday (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,810 ratings  ·  935 reviews

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Start your review of Runemarks (Runemarks, #1)
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, netgalley
This is a dense and sprawling satire that draws on Norse mythology and folklore on which the author has certainly done her research. She re-imagines the Norse gods and on occasion subverts them. Maddy Smith is the young heroine shunned by family and community. She was born with a new runemark on her hand denoting the gods. In her world, magic is perceived to be dangerous and banned. But here's the thing, Maddy likes doing magic.....particularly when it comes to some troublesome goblins!

Maddy's o
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 this book was fun and enjoyable to read.

I usually don't change the date read to
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Looking for something lighthearted to clear your head between longer and more complex series? Why not Zoidberg Runemarks?

Rating could have been lowered but this was fast and fun read and it was perfect counterweight to complex Malazan series that was reading along side it. so i'm going to give it 4 stars. It's YA fantasy but it's more inspired by older heroic fantasy with than modern YA genre. Distinctive writing style that flows easily and setting heavily inspired by Norse mythology contribut
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
3.5 stars

The Nordic mythical foundations of this book were well utilised, conforming to known stories in parts and freely reimagined in others. The initial part of the book was especially well done; though it begins with the usual young protagonist coming into their powers, the runemarks and character of Maddy Smith gave it a real freshness and appeal.

However, the book felt stretched, pushed well past the moment when all the reader's attention is firmly focused. By the time of the big battle con
Jul 22, 2013 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
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
Aug 31, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 01, 2012 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 she
HOW HAVE I NOT READ THIS BEFORE??? I mean, I know why, because in my opinion the summary for this book doesn't really do it justice. Or maybe it does, but it doesn't necessarily highlight the parts of the book that make it most appealing to me personally.

First of all, I feel like the summary/cover makes this seem more like a middle grade book, but it is definitely YA. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind middle grade books, but with the complexity of the story here I'm glad it was aimed at a slight
Elise (On The Bookshelves)
Firstly, this cover looks stunning in person with its gold accents and that combined with the synopsis made me instantly buy it because who doesn't love a little bit of mythology?! Well, this was absolutely filled to the brim with Norse mythology, which was super exciting because I love mythology, but it didn't make for a nice reading experience since you were just constantly overloaded with information about each of the gods and the Nine Worlds. Due to this, the pace just kept getting interrupt ...more
Lyn Elliott
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Joanne Harris has written a fast-moving story with a young heroine, 14 at the time of the dramatic action, set 500 years after Ragnorok in a world that derives from Norse myth.

I've read dozens of books of myth and folktale over the years, as well as books that draw inspiration from the originals, and Harris's creation is fresh and satisfying.

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
Jan 19, 2009 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
Mels Ht
Aug 03, 2013 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
Rachel  Of Questionable Luck
Jun 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
AWESOME! I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS BOOK, DO YOU HEAR ME? AWESOME! "Runemarks" is based on Norse Mythology, and the witty and surprisingly colorful cast of characters includes many Norse Gods (including Loki the Trickster, Odin the All-Father, and Thor the Thunderer), several hilarious goblins (my favorite of which was named Sugar-&-Sacke), and quite a few persnickety, clever, and downright serendipitous humans (including Nat Parson, his wife Ethelberta who is not all she seems, and the uptight Mrs ...more
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
Jan 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Joanne Harris... well, it was a love at first word with her and has been so ever since. I have NEVER read a book by her and felt disappointment, regret or mixed feelings. She is a unique human being that has been blessed with the magic of writing and brings joy to the world with ther storytelling.

This is Joanne Harris's first novel for young adults. Its the story of maddy Smith a fourteen year old girl who lives in the distant future in a world entirely different to ours. Maddie is born with a m
Jul 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile, fantasy, fiction
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
Stephanie - Books Less Travelled
So, so, so good! I have always been big on Norse mythology, but have never really read many books about it. When I found this series, I couldn't wait to get started. I was hesitant at first, since my library only had it on audiobook, but now I'm SO glad it ended up that way! This is the first audiobook I finished, and it was much better than the first one I tried! I loved the narrator's voice, and she did an amazing job with the characters and I could easily picture the character's faces based o ...more
Mar 22, 2013 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
Joseph Leskey
Jul 28, 2016 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
Review of second read-through of Runemarks:
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]]
Fangs for the Fantasy
Oct 12, 2012 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
Serendipity Reviews
This is not a book to be rushed. It is like a fine wine that needs time to mature, allowing your mind to fully appreciate the detailed world building that has gone into it. Joanne Harris has provided comprehensive lists and pictures to help you and I would suggest reading and studying them first before you embark on this epic tale as you may find yourself slightly lost with the huge cast of characters that appear in the story.

Within in this book, you need to tread carefully and keep your eyes o
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You can find a copy of this review at:

Joanne Harris... well, it was a love at first word with her and has been so ever since. I have NEVER read a book by her and felt disappointment, regret or mixed feelings. She is a unique human being that has been blessed with the magic of writing and brings joy to the world with ther storytelling.

This is Joanne Harris's first novel for young adults. Its the story of maddy Smith a fourteen year old girl who lives in the
Jun 29, 2010 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 30, 2010 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
Rusty'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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Mar 01, 2010 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
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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

Other books in the series

Runemarks (2 books)
  • Runelight (Runemarks, #2)

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“A thing named is a thing tamed.” 74 likes
“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.”
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