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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An epic and satisfying read
Having read most of the reviews of this book I feel I have to make my own comment. No this is not a new Tolkien and one here compared it to junk food, which in a way is true if you do see Tolkien as a gourmet meal. But I have to say after reading this through that I became involved in this book, because it had a fast moving and somewhat complex plot, some spectacular...
Published on February 12, 2000 by Niclas Kockum

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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New magic, Interesting Plot - but some stupidity
For starters I'd like to say that this book offers a refreshing take on the fantasy genre.
Forget about Dungeons and Dragons type spells, here magic is summed up as more of a commodity. There a certain traits or attributes that people can bestow upon another (but at great cost as those who bestow such powers loose their own abilities) so instead of casting spells and...
Published on June 30, 2002


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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An epic and satisfying read, February 12, 2000
By 
Niclas Kockum (Stockholm, Sweden) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:) (Mass Market Paperback)
Having read most of the reviews of this book I feel I have to make my own comment. No this is not a new Tolkien and one here compared it to junk food, which in a way is true if you do see Tolkien as a gourmet meal. But I have to say after reading this through that I became involved in this book, because it had a fast moving and somewhat complex plot, some spectacular scenarios but foremost it was epic. I love epic books such as A Song of Ice and Fire and Magician by Raymond E. Feist because they are larger than life, through them you can get lost in something out of this world. This book delivers on that part and it is an involving fantasy world and his magic system is thought through and there are enormous battles and tragic fates for many characters. One of the things that I was intrigued most by in this book is how everyone is not just made demigods without losing anything but how they truly do suffer and lose people, friends and family. There is one truly heartbreaking scene where a soldier, one of the good guys, has to kill a small, innocent and mute eight year old girl because she is his enemy's servant. Farland really makes us feel how a part of this soldier's soul dies with him when he has to do this monstrous deed. The thing that I think most people don't like with the Runelords is its simplistic writing, because it is simple in many ways, it only covers in detail the important and epic events, not how the leaves in the green forest look, which might be a turn off for some who like Tolkien writing but not for others who want the book to progress into the important, "cool" stuff. Comparing this to junk food is in a way the right thing to do, it tastes good and its not healthy getting too much of it, because you won't have much of a life to go back to and you'll keep on coming back for more. I recommend it to those who may want more quantity in fantasy and yet do want that bit of quality. This is not a book for nitpicking, no fantasy books ever hold when you start nitpicking, just enjoy it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent first book, promising a brilliant series, March 26, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a excellent first book, of what promises to be a brilliant series. David Farland has created a world and characters that I enjoyed as much as I have enjoyed David Eddings books over the years. This is a story that like David Eddings stories I will be re-reading over the coming years. The story is well constructed and follows a good fantasy theme that incorporates the standard ingredients required to lock the readers imagination from the first page. In addition to the standard theme, he has created some excellent characters that have individual moral and ethical identities capable of matching real life people. The characters evolve through the book and like real people, some of the characters grow-up during the course of the book and modify their own moral/ethical stances based on their experiences. This book has a very fast pace and the author has refrained from trying to identify all of the characteristics of the different lands; peoples; etc in the one book. His method of providing characters with extra powers is refreshing, in that they have a price to pay for such powers and a obligation to protect the source of their powers aswell as a moral/ethical struggle to justify acceptance of such powers. Excellent book, looking forward to the next in the series.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It would make a good computer game... Definately different., June 22, 2000
By 
Amazon Customer (Flushing, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:) (Mass Market Paperback)
Every now and then, a new authour (new to fantasy, if not to sci-fi..) enters the Fantasy playing field with novel and welcome concepts. Farland has brought with him a new magic system, based on the Vampiric concept of draining attributes (sight, speed, strength, etc) from one being and transferring them to another, thus making the receiver a formidable opponent, especially when the recipient of many such "endowments". The Sum of All Men refers to just that - a being with endowments from so many people that he becomes almost omnipotent. His only weakness being his reliance on those providing him with their attributes, and the need to balance all of his attributes evenly, in order to eliminate any weak links (for example someone who has the speed of many people must have the stamina to survive the ordeal). I would actually rather give this book 3.5 stars, for a couple of reasons. Although Farland does not bend to a formula and his world is novel, complex and relatively believable, I don't find the characters particularly well-rounded, and the plot is a little thin. I'm an avid fan of complex interweaving, and Farland just doesn't do it for me. Six hundred and thirteen pages are by no means a "small" novel, and I'd expected a little more to happen in that span - in short, I found it a little slow moving and not justifiably so. But maybe that's just me. Lastly, I found the book a little too "psychological" for my tastes - his emphasis on body language and people's private domains was a little too overt for my liking, I prefer a little more subtlety. Then again, I suppose that for someone with enhanced senses, nothing is subtle anymore...
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars New magic, Interesting Plot - but some stupidity, June 30, 2002
By A Customer
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This review is from: The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:) (Mass Market Paperback)
For starters I'd like to say that this book offers a refreshing take on the fantasy genre.
Forget about Dungeons and Dragons type spells, here magic is summed up as more of a commodity. There a certain traits or attributes that people can bestow upon another (but at great cost as those who bestow such powers loose their own abilities) so instead of casting spells and such, people gift to others their powers of wit, stamina, brawn, sights, hearing, smell, etc... The people who receive these gifts, they become superhuman. Those who gift others become deaf, blind, or even vegetables at worst. This magical aspect of the world I really liked.
Also, as far as this being a gripping book, I'd say it is. Save the first 50 or so pages, once I got sucked into the plot I found myself too curious to see what was going to happen next to put the book down. Character development is adequate, the main characters are interesting, and the antagonist is pretty fascinating too.
There are however a couple big negatives:
I know its fantasy, but some of the laws of the land in this book are so unrealistic and naïve it's turned me off. I'm not giving anything major away here, but to say that executing or even imprisoning an assassin is against the law, and not challenging this concept, well that's just foolish.
Also, the love story began in such a way it makes you think the protagonist is a fool. Which after he falls in love you see he's not. So the start of the love plotline is disappointing to say the least.
The above two statement made me loose a lot of credibility in this world. But save those two major errors it was a very enjoyable read. Despite my objections I'd still recommend this as a refreshing novel for the fantasy genre.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not Great, August 1, 2000
By 
This review is from: The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:) (Mass Market Paperback)
At the very least, this was an entertaining book. Plenty of action and magic, as well as some interesting moral dilemmas(sp?), which set it a step above most modern fantasy. On the down side, this novel was a little cliched; i.e., young, not so powerful prince needs to save the world from Ultra-powerful evil king. This was more than compensated for by showing us that even the villain has some good in him; everything he does, he believes he does for the good of mankind.
If you are a fan of epic fantasy and feel the need to start what looks like it will be a multiple tome epic, then Farland's Runelords looks like it may be one of the better choices around. It certainly doesn't compare with Tad Williams work or George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire saga, but it's a good way to entertain yourself during a few rainy afternoons.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the BEST of the current crop of Epic Fantasy series., June 15, 2000
By 
April (L.A., CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:) (Mass Market Paperback)
I've been reading fantasy for decades, so it takes something a bit more intriguing and innovative to catch my attention. The magic system, integral to the plot and motivations and theme, manages to put this book above the ordinary. The cost of using these Runes is immediate and devistatingly obvious. It highlights what is implied in other books, that there is a cost to magic, or power of any kind; whether it's the power a leader has over his men, or the power man has over nature. This adds immensely to the meaning of all the action. --And the action is great. The story is fast-paced and the author doesn't play about with the reader, providing many confrontations between the protagonist and antagonist, and lively scenes with the supporting characters. The writing is self-assured and straight-forward, the characters are a little nebulous but show great promise of growth, the world seems vast and fascinating with well-developed and intriguing cultures. I will eagerly look forward to reading more in this series.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, December 13, 2001
This review is from: The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:) (Mass Market Paperback)
The world that David Farland has created is one unlike any that I personally have read about before. To become a runelord one takes an endowment from another person, called a Dedicate, such as stamina, sight, smell, grace, or brawn. That person will no longer be able to use the ability that they give up, thus someone that gives an endowment of sight goes blind, and someone that gives brawn becomes so weak as to not be able to move. The process is done with runes made of bloodmetal, which is very rare and expensive. Dedicates will not get their endowment returns to them unless the lord dies, and if the Dedicate dies the lord looses the endowment. Now the Earth is in pain, and the people of the world are waiting for the uprising of the Earth King, one of which has always appeared in a time of extreme need.
The main character is Gaborn Orden, son of the King of Mystarria. The realms of Rofehavan are under attack by the King of Indhopal, Raj Ahten, who has taken endowments from thousands upon thousands of people in an effort to become the Sum of All Men. He has taken so many endowments of glamour that he is the most handsome man alive, and so many endowments of Voice that when he speaks, people are compelled to do anything he asks. When King Orden is killed, Gaborn must undertake the effort to send Raj Ahten back to Indhopal and keep the realms of Rofehavan safe. Also, another threat is coming into play that does not yet seem as important as Raj Ahten. The reavers, a large insect-like race that lives underground, are starting to surface. Each one is over 20 feet tall, and are difficult to kill.
This has the potential to become a great series. The first book is interesting, and Farland does not shirk from taking into account the morals of recieving endowments from other people. However, the characters are a tad underdeveloped and two dimensional. This is definitely a series I plan on continuing to read.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept, not so well developed, June 7, 2000
By 
David Rasquinha (Arlington, VA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:) (Mass Market Paperback)
As in chess, so too in fantasy, a new idea is a welcome development. Farland's series is a good change from the standard creator vs. evil one genre of Tolkien, Jordan et al. The idea of a feudal economy where wealth is not just material but in the form of endowments of human attributes, with the beneficiary lord then having to care for the drained donors is intriguing indeed and Farland deserves full credit for his innovation. The magic of the elements too is well brought in. However, I always get a bit wary when authors try and push a personal philosophy too strongly, instead of letting it flow with their story and Farland comes perilously close to doing this. I hope it does not go the way of Dune where Herbert's philosophical meanderings ultimately crowded out the story itself (yes, I do know Dune is science fiction and not fantasy). My other crib is that Farland falls prey to a prevailing laziness among fantasy writers and does not explain the context of his world. No doubt, it is all clear in his mind. But as a reader, I have questions. What are the toth and duskins which vanished from the earth and whose loss carries lessons for Gaborn? Why should the earth be so concerned about humans vis-à-vis the reavers on objective principles? What exactly (description, habits) are reavers and hujmoth and glories? The book has no coherent answer and this detracts from the quality. Nor are the maps of much use either, being too sparse on details. The impact of Raj Ahten's attack on Sylvarresta and the retreat across Mystarria are lost without a proper map for the reader to follow. That said, the characters are interesting and multi-dimensional and the story moves well. A promising debut for Farland and worth a try by any fantasy fans.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This entire series is among the best., August 2, 2002
By 
Schwing "mseag" (Layton, Utah United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:) (Mass Market Paperback)
I picked this series up out of desperation between Robert Jordan and George R. R. Martin books. The quality and flow of the entire series blew me away! The story is exciting and completely original. The bad guys are written so well that you actually fear for the heroes (Who are the best written I have read in recent years!) I have to say, when the next Jordan book comes out, it will be considered a "Between Farland" book!
PS. A warning I would give to any reader is, don't judge this by the first 20 pages. I almost put it down thinking it was another one of those D & D wanna be books. Anyone who has read D & D or DragonLance will understand what I mean. It is far from it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting debut, June 9, 2001
This review is from: The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:) (Mass Market Paperback)
In some ways, Farland's first novel is pretty straightforward. Set is a (pseudo-)mediaeval world, it deals with a young prince, Gaborn, who, gifted with special powers, must attempt to save the world. Hmm, we've heard that before.
The central plot isn't all that arresting either: Gaborn accompanies his father, King Orden of Mystarria to Heredon. Both Heredon and Mystarria are part of the Rofehavan Kingdoms, which are under threat from a southern King, Raj Ahten. As Gaborn reaches Heredon, all hell breaks loose. Ahten has sent assassins into Heredon. Soon, Ahten himself appears, backed by an army (yes, this is another of those "militaristic fantasies"). Besides having to repel Ahten, Gaborn must also try to win over the King Heredon's daughter, for whose hand he has come in the first place. Against this backdrop, a larger danger lurks in the background, as inhuman "Reavers" begin to stir, threatening all mankind.
What sets this book apart from others is that Farland has woven into his story a concept that permeates his entire world. That concept boils down to one word: endowments. In Farland's world, it is possible to physically transfer someone's strength, speed or other attributes to some-one else by means of "forcibles".
This changes everything. Think about it for a moment.
Think, for example, about Raj Ahten. Given hundreds of endowments, he is immeasurably stronger, quicker and smarter than ordinary men. But in his wake he leaves hundreds of people from whom he has taken these attributes; a host of cripples. And he must keep these so-called "Dedicates" alive: if they die, the endowments they gave disappear. Conversely, if Ahten should die, his endowments are returned to those who gave them.
So if you want to hurt Ahten, you might well try to do so by killing his Dedicates. But what if those Dedicates consist also of your own people - friend or family, even - who have been forced to give attributes to him? What do you do then?
To his credit, Farland has thought long and hard about the consequences of his idea. He has not shirked the moral dilemma it creates. In fact, that moral issue runs like a thread through the entire book.
Technically, Farland is not (yet) a very good writer. His characterisation isn't strong and his sense of timing is sometimes awkward. But the concept of endowments makes this first instalment of what will undoubtedly be another lengthy series well worth while.
Highly recommended, if not quite top-notch.
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The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:)
The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One:) by David Farland (Mass Market Paperback - April 15, 1999)
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