Runebinder by Alex Kahler
Summary from Goodreads:
Magic is risen.
When magic returned to the world, it could have saved humanity, but greed and thirst for power caused mankind’s downfall instead. Now once-human monsters called Howls prowl abandoned streets, their hunger guided by corrupt necromancers and the all-powerful Kin. Only Hunters have the power to fight back in the unending war, using the same magic that ended civilization in the first place.
But they are losing.
Tenn is a Hunter, resigned to fight even though hope is nearly lost. When he is singled out by a seductive Kin named Tomás and the enigmatic Hunter Jarrett, Tenn realizes he’s become a pawn in a bigger game. One that could turn the tides of war. But if his mutinous magic and wayward heart get in the way, his power might not be used in favor of mankind.
If Tenn fails to play his part, it could cost him his friends, his life…and the entire world.
ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
I really love that cover! Unfortunately that is all I really loved about the book. Don’t get me wrong, I did like it, I just was hoping to love it with such an awesome cover and premiss. I got the feeling that in the publisher’s rush to get out a diverse fantasy book, some of the editing was left by the wayside. At it’s core this is a good book, but it could be so much better.
The world the author has created is interesting, but it left me feeling very confused. I needed a prologue I think that explained how the world got where it is when the book starts. The magic is interesting, but not well explained either. It is based on the elements, but there are spheres in the magic wielders that help them control it? I really didn’t get that aspect at all and it was never well explained, nor were the runes that also helped them use the magic, but eventually become very important to the story. Also, not everyone had the ability to use magic, and I kind of got the feeling that only kids and maybe even just gays could use the magic, but it was never stated that way. Otherwise why would there be protests against magic and gays when the world is falling apart? I don’t know, like I said very confusing.
The main character Tenn was interesting. I think the main reason most people don’t finish this book is because of his inner dialogue at the start of the book. He is a bit too whiney and young sounding. Not the typical strong main character. I’m actually kind of surprised that he has lasted as long as he has without just giving up. He does get better though, especially towards the end of the book. His thoughts and feelings about his love interests were a bit over the top as well, a little too much use of bad romance novel imagery.
The supporting cast of characters is solid and for the most part I really liked them. Jarret and the twins are the best, although I am not sure why they put up with Tenn. I also like the evil characters, they were deliciously wicked. There are also some monsters called howlers that sound like a cross between zombies and werewolves. Lots of other evil crap both magical and human for our heroes to contend with as well.
Once you get around the confusing world building, the plot is quite good and is what saves the book in the end. Although the underlying plot is somewhat cliched, Tenn is the chosen one that both the goods guys and the bad guys want to use for their own purposes, how we get there and why he is the chosen one is the interesting part. It is pretty fast paced overall and kept me interested in finishing it.
Overall an interesting story with some solid characters that could have been better executed. I’m not sure if I will read the sequel, although I am curious to see how things turn out and maybe for a better explanation of this very interesting world that the author has created.