• The Sum of All Men

  • The Runelords, Book 1
  • By: David Farland
  • Narrated by: Ray Porter
  • Length: 21 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (3,861 ratings)

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The Sum of All Men

By: David Farland
Narrated by: Ray Porter
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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 listeners say about The Sum of All Men

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

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42 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A MAN WHO BELIEVES HE IS DOOMED TO FAIL

TENDS TO FAIL
There is a lot of stuff in this book, thrown at you every other paragraph. There are so many things, that we get told a lot of stuff, but not much showing. I lost count of how many times while our hero is running from various enemies, that he remembers back to an earlier time. This of course is an author's way of info dumping. Several authors have done this and I wish they would quit. If you are going to have a action scene, don't break away to remember the past. Who does that anyway? Last time you where in a car accident or something scary, did you start reminiscing about the past?

I also could not get into the story or care about the characters.

one highlight is Ray Porter. This is one of his earlier works and seems a little more subdued than his later works.

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36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Gr
  • 03-30-19

Mixed Review

This is the first book in an epic fantasy series the Runelords. There are 8 books in the series and the last book, book 8 was published in 2013. The series remains incomplete as of 2019. I have mixed feelings about this book and the rest of the series. The book is well written and well narrated. On the positive side, the plot and the characters are intriguing with lots of excitement and action. David Farland introduces in the Runelords, a universe containing interesting magical concepts whereby the characters are granted endowments which enhance the abilities of both the heroes and villains.

What I did not enjoy were the implications of slavery and the theft of dignity embedded in aspects of the magic that rests at the heart of the magic. I have no doubt that people would take from others if they could, but I find it hard to believe that people would give up their gifts voluntarily or even under coercion. Logically, I also struggle with the concept behind the logistics involved in sustaining hundreds of thousands who have lost endowments. There would need to be vast cities containing nothing but those who have been robbed of part of their humanity and it just does not make sense on the scale suggested in the book.

The book was okay, and the characters have captured my interest, so I intend to read the series to see where this story takes me, but I remain conflicted about the magic.

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25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.



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25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

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25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • W
  • 12-12-08

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.

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17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

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...

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10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Not worth paying money for.

I've listened to 8 books in this series because I needed something to listen to and they came free with my membership. The narrator does a pretty good job, but the story itself isn't very good. It starts out mediocre and stays that way. The characterization is shallow and, worse, inconsistent. The world building is lackluster. The writer tries way to hard to make everything meaningful and end up being either preachy or edgy all the time. Plot threads are left dangling all the time. The magic systems have one or two interesting points but are incredibly boring in implementation. Every time I think the story might go somewhere interesting it either doesn't or does and then ruins it. Oh no, did Gaboring make a huge mistake playing matchmaker with two people he barely knows? That guy's character is a little questionable... Nope, turns out they're actually soulmates who love each other completly even though they are strangers who never talk and have nothing in common. But wait, maybe he shouldn't have sworn to those ideals. Will he be able to uphold those standards while fighting these bitter wars? Can he keep all these promises he's made? What if the conflict with each other?... Oh, okay. Turns out it's never really a problem. We can stay indecisive and mostly just wait for plot to happen to us until the very end, when someone else will choose to make the necessary sacrifices for us so we can reap the benefits without being directly responsible for anything questionable or hypocritical or whatever.
Nothing feels real or means anything. No one acts like a real person. Why did all the Days suddenly disappear? Why does no one in universe seem to have noticed? Why are people so eager to give their endowments to basically whomever? Why does every named character vacillate between very capable and totally incompetent all the time? It's like no one has a plan or knows what's going on 90% of the time. An endowmentnof metabolism can be dangerous because you basically live twice as fast... Which is why they are used with reckless abandon at the climax of every single book. Dying too fast for the story? A bad guy will kill your dedicates again it's fine. There are too many problems to talk about.

These aren't the worst books I've ever read/listened too. The narrator is pretty good and they work if you need something to listen to but not focus on. But if I had paid money for them I would be disappointed with my purchase.

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of the best audiobooks I've heard

I'd read this book when it first came out, but never followed through with the rest of the story. When I saw it would out on audiobook, I thought I'd take a listen, as a refresher before starting the next book.

I was blown away.

I couldn't listen often enough I wanted to devour it all in one sitting (not possible - it's a giant book!). The voice talent was amazing. He did all the different characters, emotion, inflection so beautifully it had me marveling. His talent along with the author's made this a thousand gold stars. Love, love, loved it.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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"

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5 people found this helpful