The Sum of all Men Series
by David Farland

The Runelords The Runelords, (Sum of all Men, Volume 1)

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 strength, for instance, and in turn the vassal comes under the lord's care as his "dedicate," too weak to even walk. A Runelord might have hundreds of such endowments, giving him superhuman senses and abilities, but he then must care for the hundreds that he has deprived of strength, or beauty, or sight.

Runelords excels because this novel idea is not mere window dressing--Farland uses it to explore fundamental questions of life and morality. The story's hero, the young Runelord Gaborn, struggles to define his role in this "shameful economy" while keeping his commitments to himself, to his people, to the woman he loves, and to the earth itself. We end up asking ourselves the same questions: Should you choose your friends based on insight or virtue? Is it better to be just or good? Competent fantasy lets you escape to adventure in faraway lands, but exceptional fantasy makes sure you have something to think about when you get back. Runelords accomplishes the latter. --Paul Hughes

Available in Hardcover or Mass Market paperback edition

Brotherhood of the Wolf Brotherhood of the Wolf (Sum of all Men, Volume 2)

Second in the pseudonymous Farland's epic fantasy (The Runelords, 1998). Following the standoff between the Wolf Lord Raj Ahten and the Earth King Gaborn Van Orden, Raj Ahten ravages the south of Mystarria in the hope of drawing Gaborn into battle. But Gaborn seeks to protect his people by Choosing, mentally bonding, with them. His Earth powers also warn him of an altogether different peril, one that will require his and Raj Ahten's combined forces to overcome. But the Wolf Lord rejects the alliance and orders his flameweavers to summon a Darkling Glory, a dreadful magical creature of Air and Darkness. Meanwhile, orc-like reavers and reaver mages, driven from their subterranean fastnesses by a world worm so huge that volcanoes erupt through the tunnels it gnaws out, swarm out of the north. The attractions are indisputable: substantial plotting, inventive magics and enough fighting to gratify the most bloodthirsty fan. Equally clear are the drawbacks: anonymous characters, and that perennially dangling finish. -- Copyright 1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. 

Available in Hardcover or Mass Market paperback edition

Wizardborn Wizardborn (Sum of all Men, Volume 3)

This is the third book in David Farland's epic fantasy Runelords series, following The Runelords and Brotherhood of the Wolf. Having sacrificed most of his Earth-based magical powers in the previous book, King Gaborn is sworn to pursue the army of unfathomable Reavers across the land of Mystarria, hoping to slay them before they can take refuge in their underground lair. A revelation from Averan, a young girl who's gained the memories of a Reaver by eating its brain, forces a change in plan, however. If the Reavers get underground, she learns, they will be rallied by the magic of the One True Master Reaver and return to fight, more deadly than ever. Averan's own budding Earth Power leads to her being chosen as apprentice by Gaborn's Earth wizard Binnesman, and her Reaver knowledge will make her an indispensable part of Gaborn's forces. In the meantime, evil forces seek to murder Gaborn's wife and prevent her from giving birth to a son who could be more powerful than his father, while Gaborn's enemy Raj Ahten--who, like Gaborn, is also losing his endowed Earth Power--pursues the Reavers through his kingdom as well.

In the end, the book stops just as things are finally starting to move, but while offering little plot development and no real surprises, this latest chapter in the Runelords saga is still likely to please Farland's dedicated fans. --Charlene Brusso

Available in Hardcover

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Last updated 01/16/02 04:50:04 -0500