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The Sum of All Men: The Runelords, Book One | [David Farland]

The Sum of All Men: The Runelords, Book One

Young Prince Gaborn of Mystarria is traveling in disguise on a journey to ask for the hand of the lovely Princess Iome of Sylvarresta. Armed with his gifts of strength and perception, the prince and his bodyguard stop at a local tavern, where they spot a pair of assassins who have their sights set on Princess Iome's father. As they race to warn the king, they realize that more than the royal family is at risk - the very fate of the Earth is in jeopardy.
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Publisher's Summary

David Farland's acclaimed Runelords series introduces a world where the social structure is based upon the magical exchange of "endowments" such as stamina, grace, and wit. The Runelords are those who receive these endowments from their vassals, becoming superhuman in exchange for the responsibility of caring for those they have deprived of strength, or beauty, or sight.

Young Prince Gaborn of Mystarria is traveling in disguise on a journey to ask for the hand of the lovely Princess Iome of Sylvarresta. Armed with his gifts of strength and perception, the prince and his bodyguard stop at a local tavern, where they spot a pair of assassins who have their sights set on Princess Iome's father. As they race to warn the king, they realize that more than the royal family is at risk - the very fate of the Earth is in jeopardy.

©1998 David Farland; (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (612 )
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  •  
    Lore SAN JOSE, CA, United States 04-02-12
    Lore SAN JOSE, CA, United States 04-02-12 Member Since 2008

    Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fan

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A world of interesting magics and moral choices."

    David Farland has created a land where the rulers take advantage of a magical process by which one person can acquire the attributes of another, such as strength, stamina, glamour, metabolism, or grace. The person that gives the endowment loses the attribute and is "crippled" while the receiver is enhanced. These Runelords approach the process of receiving endowments from multiple moral perspectives and this adds to the richness of the story.

    This ability to take/receive endowments re-defines how people live, rule, and fight wars and Farland goes into much detail explaining how this ability can be manipulated by good or evil. Rarely is such a structure governing magic so well defined in Fantasy books and for me it really helped make the magic seem more realistic and plausible.

    Endowments aren't the only magic in this series and there is also a whole range of wizards that use various elemental magics, as well as strange creatures that live underground known as Reavers. Ray Porter does an excellent job of bringing all of these various characters to life with his narration.

    This book hooked me pretty quickly and I have now listened to the first 4 books in the series. I have enjoyed them all, so this book is an excellent start to an excellent series.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Stone San Diego 06-07-09
    Andrew Stone San Diego 06-07-09 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent Fantasy Series!"

    Exceptionally good book! Magic, romance, and characters that you love and others that love to hate.

    It has been awhile for me to find a new series that is similar to and as good as the "Wheel of Time series" by Robert Jordan. Like the "Wheel of Time series", I am totally engrossed, sitting on the edge-of-my-seat listening. The plot is very interesting. Also, the book is up-beat (most of the time anyway). But, like George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series there are some tragedies.

    NARRATION: The narrator reads the Prolog in a way that seems too overacting, but after that his style of reading changes and I enjoyed listening.

    At this point, I have commited to purchasing books 2 thru 4. Book two, I downloaded. Books 3 and 4 are not available on Audible(at this time), so I ordered them 'used' from Amazon.



    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W Marina, CA, United States 12-12-08
    W Marina, CA, United States 12-12-08
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    "Liked it, at times gruesome"

    I hope audible gets the rest of the titles in these series. This book is basically about a race of people who can steal others traits, such as intelligence, beauty, grace etc.

    The story is about a young prince and his desire to thwart a villain who has enslaved and killed many people in his quest to be the perfect 'some of all men' an immortal being with thousands of human traits taken from others.

    At first, I found the story a bit gruesome. It *IS* gruesome. But eventually I became engrossed. This is a tale about people with morally questionable habits. Can you take talent from others and still be human? Does the end really justify the means?

    It poses some interesting ethical dilemnas even if the author doesn't go there as much as he should. But the talented people are very difficult to resist.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jake 06-04-09
    Jake 06-04-09 Member Since 2011

    I average three books a week, but as I cannot afford to purchase that many books I frequently re-read those I already have. If you are here looking for reviews, I typically only review those books I feel particularly strongly about or have some insight that hasn't yet been posted in a review.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Book"

    There are two things not mentioned in the description and reviews of this book so far that you should probably know:

    1) The rune endowments are more complicated than it seems from the description.
    2) Its not the only type of magic present in the book, its just the most common one. Nearly every character has an endowment of some sort, but a few characters (including the main character) have other magic.

    So if like your like me and didn't think the rune system seemed that interesting don't worry about, theres much more to the book than that.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J.L. Shockley Dutch Harbor, Alaska USA 05-11-15
    J.L. Shockley Dutch Harbor, Alaska USA 05-11-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Good but..."

    Okay, overall I liked the story - it wasn't great, but it was solid. The plot is good, the idea of magic as just one element of a capitalist society is good... I love the idea of an Earth Warden who will bring together not just the people but the creatures and animals and elements that inhabit the earth, against a greater evil. I like all the references to various herbs and their uses, to magic which is in many cases simply a refinement of basic physics. There's a load of potential for the remaining books, which I have not as of this writing yet read. But I like to be able to totally lose myself in a believable "other" world and this book doesn't quite get me there.

    One, the economics of magic just don't work for me. How can any society support so many people who have given their endowments to so few, people who are now dependent on social welfare for sustenance? Thousands of people who give up essential parts of themselves and are supposedly supported by others - family, government or both - for the rest of their lives, for the benefit of just a few lords and ladies? Raj Ahten has thousands of dedicates who support him - who is supporting them? Who tills the fields, farms the lands? Who has time to provide these dedicates with food and water? It just doesn't work for me and was, unfortunately, constantly in the back of my mind as I listened to this book.

    Two, I got tired of hearing the words yet, fey and fell, and the phrase "to the core of" in the narration. Admittedly I'm a bit of a grammar nazi, a word nerd... but I didn't like the manner or the frequency with which any of these were used - they felt contrived and over-used, and detracted from an otherwise decent storyline.

    I'm curious about what might happen next but I'm not sure I'm reading or willing to listen to more...

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Enterprise, OR, United States 03-01-13
    Scott Enterprise, OR, United States 03-01-13 Member Since 2010

    I am a registered nurse and a father of four great kids. I live in a rural part of Oregon and love it. I enjoy books, but Sci-Fi Fantasy has allows been the ones I reach for more than others.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good entry book for a solid series"
    If you could sum up The Sum of All Men in three words, what would they be?

    Surprising, Epic, and Magical


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Gaborn-reading about a character become the hero of series is always interesting and the way in which Gaborn comes into his own is great and worth the time it takes to read/listen to this book and those that follow in the series


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The death of King Orden how tried to save the world from a man who takes from others to make himself the king of all. This sets up the rest of the book and the change that needs to happen in Gaborn for him to become something more than himself in which is the only way he can save the "earth"


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MIchael Des Moines, IA, United States 01-06-13
    MIchael Des Moines, IA, United States 01-06-13
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    "A wonderful premise ruined by a terrible book!"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Only the hardcore D&D folks could find this truly entertaining because the core of this story has been done the exact same way hundreds of thousands of times. In fact, if you liked the Dungeons & Dragons movie that came out a few years ago you're probably the target audience for this book.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    I'll try and find a better fantasy series to start but if that doesn't work out I'll probably go for something safe and easy (James Rollins/Urband Fantasy/Etc)


    What three words best describe Ray Porter’s voice?

    Mediocre, mediocre, and fine


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Yes, the magical system was incredibly interesting and should have laid the groundwork for a wonderful series full of interesting characters difficult moral and ethical choices but instead it was full of cliches, WAY too many ridiculous battle descriptions, and main characters who I personally wanted to muder.


    Any additional comments?

    The female characters in this book seem to be lacking in wit, the wizards are need some more brawn, and the main character needs his b***s to drop.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Devon Canaseraga, NY, United States 11-02-11
    Devon Canaseraga, NY, United States 11-02-11 Member Since 2011

    I enjoy epic fantasy and biological science books. While biological science appeals to my professional life,epic fantasy gives me a break.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Balance of Lore, Magic and Warfare"

    This universe is setup great. The elemental magic system is not very original, but there take on it is different from most books. The real stand out element of there magic system is the concept of rune endowments, which can leave characters vulnerable through out the story; allowing for a dynamic change in a characters role in the story.

    The main character or at least the character that the story centers around is well developed and is portrayed as a protagonist that relays on intelligence and cunning. In general the whole cast of characters are well developed. The only weakness in cast characters is the antagonist who is your typical take from everyone world domination bad guy that is a bit overplayed. However, it is a minor weakness and does not keep you from enjoying the story.

    The narration is better done than most audio books.

    Overall, this is a great beginning to the story and balances sword, sorcery and the overall story. This could stand to be a true epic fantasy classic. There is a minor political aspect to the book, but if you more interested in political balance than warfare it may not be for you. The book is set over a matter of days and alot happens for just a few days. However, everything around the characters is supposed to move at a slower pace the characters because of "metabolism endowments"( a day can seem like a week or weeks) ; it causes you to be okay with the fast pace of the story.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lee Lincoln, CA, USA 12-24-08
    Lee Lincoln, CA, USA 12-24-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent"

    Interesting approach to the concepts of destiny, empowerment and the obligations of the privileged vs the commoner. Definitely worth the read, or listen. I hope the rest of the series makes its way onto
    Audible.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    vbearski 01-18-15
    vbearski 01-18-15 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "BORING!!! AND PREDICTABLE"
    Would you try another book from David Farland and/or Ray Porter?

    Yes


    What could David Farland have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Not been so predictable


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Ray Porter?

    Narrator was ok


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Sum of All Men?

    All the taking of people's attributes. It got really old after a while.


    Any additional comments?

    I've been an Audible member for many years. This, I think, is the worst book I have tried to date. I would like to be able to go into profound detail as to why I dislike this book so much. However, not possible as the only words of description that come to mind are boring and predictable. I read a review prior to purchase and was excited that I had found a new series. Maybe the review was mistakenly placed next to this title?? I gave it five hours and could not take the predictableness any longer. Probably a really good story line and although there are several more in the series, I just have to stop the listen. Hopefully, I can return it and not have to waste a good credit on such a horrible book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Paul (Shropshire) with Shore with no Hobbits
    6/11/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The Runelords"

    A friend told me that I would enjoy these books. He was not wrong I cant wait to get into book 2, I did not think I could find a book like this something fresh after the hundreds of books I have read it can be hard to find new fresh ideas. However with the Runelords I have found a fresh and interesting store

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sylvia
    West Byfleet, Surrey, United Kingdom
    3/10/11
    Overall
    "FABULOUS!!!"

    A brilliant concept, and really well narrated! I enjoyed every second of this fascinating book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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