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The Sum of All Men by David Farland

The Sum of All Men (Runelords #1)
by David Farland (Goodreads Author)

3 of 5 stars false

I’m going to review the whole series, since I don’t particulary remember much from this book. The series is currently eight books long, with the ninth and final one in progress. The most interesting part of these books is the magic system, with the Runelords as nobles who take endowments, or characteristics, from their subjects, willingly or not. One person can give his strength to his lord and become a weakling, but the Runelord gets to combine his strength with his subjects’, making him super powerful once he gets more strength, speed, wit, charm (those who give this become ugly), etc. There are some other aspects of magic that play a part, but the main focus is on the Runelords. Some are good and care for the subjects they take from, others take forcibly. There are a lot of moral implications here, some of which are explored, but others are left alone. Where do the masses get so much love for their leaders that they willingly give up their attributes and become disabled. I wouldn’t give up my strength or wit to Obama or any other president. The books focus on the Runelords, not on the common people, so all we get is that sometimes they feel a little guilty. What interested me more in some ways, however, were the reavers. From their descriptions, they were kind of like twenty feet tall praying mantises, but they’re intelligent and strong enough to be a challenge even for the Runelords. This makes them more interesting enemies than orcs, for example, who are stupid, weaker than the heroes, and cowardly, but are only a threat because of their infinite numbers. So while the Runelords are fighting among themselves, the Reavers are presenting a threat to humanity itself. The series, after four books, reaches an ending, but then picks up as nearly a separate series in book five with the hero’s children. In these latter ones, more ideas are presented, and while interesting, become a bit more sloppy. Basically, any world is a shadow of the perfect world (think Chronicles of Amber) but that world was split into a million shadow worlds. But if they could be combined, then perhaps the perfect world can be achieved. In one of these books, two of these worlds are combined, changing each one drastically, including combining people with their shadow selves on the other world. It makes an interesting idea, combined with that of the Runelords and everything else, and I am interested in how it ends, but these ideas lack good execution. I actually subscribe to his ‘Daily kick in the pants’, which is an email sent occasionally (not daily anymore) that has advice on different writing topics. David Farland’s advice is pretty good, and he has taught workshops and classes (he actually taught Brandon Sanderson and Stephanie Meyer (author of Twilight) among others). So it is a little strange when he doesn’t follow his own rules in some of his books, most notably the last Runelords book that came out, #8, Chaosbound. It was not very well written, I don’t know what happened. One character who had been well received now was practically alien, and a lot of issues were ignored. Hopefully his last book will bring better closure. Good and unique ideas, mediocre execution.


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