Anyway, let's talk about this book. I have read it before, and I love the world. The idea is that each person can give a part of them to another person. Examples of this would be gifts of wit, stamina, metabolism, hearing, sight, grace, brawn, glamour, voice, etc. When a person has given an endowment of something, they lose it in themselves. If I were to give an endowment of voice, I would no longer be able to speak, but the person I gave my endowment to would have twice the power of Voice (volume, distance, persuasion, etc). I would not regain my voice until the person I had gifted my Voice to died. If I died, the person with my endowment would no longer have the extra power from me. You can't force someone to give you an endowment. The stronger your bond with the person you are doing this for, the stronger the gift. You can take an endowment from an animal, but it is frowned upon because you lose a little humanity when you do so. However, taking an endowment of scent from 1 dog would be far less damaging than the equivalent of taking endowments of scent from 50 people. The people that take endowments from dogs are called Wolf Lords. The people who take endowments from other people are called Rune Lords. An animal may also receive endowments. A horse can be given an endowment of stamina from another horse. Horses with endowments are called Force horses (generally stallions). This doesn't sound so bad, right? Wrong. Each endowment has a downside. If you give up your metabolism, you fall into a deep sleep until the person with your endowment dies. If you receive endowments of metabolism, you would move so fast that the smallest things could break your bones. Without extra stamina to heal you faster, you could die very quickly. So, it's not just a walk in the park.
On top of this whole endowments thing, we have an "element of magic". I think I'm clever. What we really have is elemental magic. In this world there are Earth Wizards and Wardens, Water Wizards, Flameweavers, and I haven't discovered Air yet... if it is a part of these books, at least. Some people serve the Earth, some serve the Flame. You can only serve one. The two main elements in this book are Earth and Fire. Water makes a few appearances, but those are the main players.
So, what is this story about. This story follows young Prince Gaborn Val Orden in his attempt to win the hand of the beautiful Princess Iome Sylvarresta. Unfortunately, a Wolf Lord, Raj Ahten attacks Sylvarresta's kingdom and romance is put on hold. Raj Ahten and his army of nomen, Invincibles (with numerous endowments each), frowth giants, Force Mastiffs, Force Stallions, and Flameweavers attempt to conquer the northern kingdoms before the reavers can attack. Reavers are strange spiderlike creatures that are quite large, some of which are capable of magic. Raj Ahten has taken thousands of endowments in an attempt to become the Sum of All Men. His hypothesis is that the Sum of All Men will live forever and his endowments will never fail, even if the dedicates (people who have given endowments) die. Well, the kings in the north aren't too fond of this idea. The problem is, one look at Raj Ahten and you would do anything he asks because of his numerous endowments of Glamour. So, our average looking prince ends up on an adventure. Death happens. Love happens. Earthy things happen. Underworldy flamey things happen. Castles fall. Death happens some more, and so does love. I won't go into too much detail because it's a fun read.
Let me just get to the review. That's part of the problem with fantasy books, some can take a really long time to explain. It's worth it, and it really isn't as complicated as it sounds. For those of you that have the fortune of knowing me IRL, you know that for the last 6 months, I have been living in a book hangover. After reading the Kingkiller Chronicles, I haven't been able to get into another book. I think 6 months off is what it took to recover. The downside to this is that the third book in that series hasn't come out yet, so when that comes out I will probably have another book hangover to deal with. Worth it.
The writing in "The Sum of All Men" is good. There are moments when I really like it and moments when I don't. If anything, I find that the writing is a little too shallow. With a stronger word choice, I think it could have been a bit better. The story is excellent. It is engaging and kept me guessing. The world is wonderful. It's very relatable yet wondrous. I love thinking and talking about this world with other people. The romance... needs work. It's very fawning/frank. On one side it's very fawning and on the other, it's frank. An argument could be made for the fawning side, that the fawn-er is being influenced by greater powers. I'd accept that, sure. It's just a bit over the top for my tastes.
There are a few series that I have no desire to continue though I enjoyed the first book. If I told you which series they were you would probably rend your clothes and cry out in anguish that I did not enjoy the series that is your favorite. Don't judge me and I won't judge you for saying that your favorite book is something like "The Giver". Just because I may not like a book doesn't mean I will think any less of you for liking it. I ask that you not think any less of me because I don't like a particular series. In fact, we could probably have an awesome conversation about the series that I don't enjoy and you love (or vice versa), so tell me about it. Just don't judge me. Back to the Runelords. This is a series that I would continue reading. I have to step away from it for now, but I would like to pick it up again soon.
Would I recommend that you read this book? Sure, why not. I enjoyed it. You might too. If you don't, we can still have a conversation about it. Maybe we didn't like/liked the same things!