The Runes of War

by Jane Welch

Reviewed by Coral

The northern Vaalakan tribes are no stranger to starvation; in their barren, frozen steppes it's an all too common reality. But all that is about to change. For the first time these nomadic tribes stand united. And, with their god Vaal-Peor promising salvation from hunger, they set out to bring the southern kingdom of Belbidia under their swords.

A hundred years ago this wouldn't have been a problem; standing between the Vaalakan hordes and Belbidia is Torra Alta, an unconquerable fortress. But times are different now. Burdened by taxes spent on building Cathedrals to a new religion, Torra Alta no longer has the strength to defend a nation. Now it's up to Caspar, son of Torra Alta's baron, and his uncle Hal to save their people. But, in doing so, they may have no other choice but to turn to the pagan religion they've been taught to hate.

I really liked this book, though I'm not quite sure why. I'll be the first to admit that there were a few weak points, plot wise. I mean, how can the three highest ranking men at Torra Alta just wander off during siege preparations? I'll be a little more lenient about the horse stolen from Torra Alta, even though you'd think the garrison would be a little more on guard; but with the small number of men I guess it's possible something got overlooked. And the "surprise" about Caspar's mother? Not so surprising. I called it from about a hundred pages in.

I like Hal, and feel bad for him, though if someone were to call him a spoiled brat they'd be right.

I was annoyed just reading about the possibility of a Hal-Caspar-Brid triangle. Come on authors, no more stories of brothers (or men who are as close as brothers) going after the same girl thereby destroying their own relationship.

But despite the various plot holes and the potential triangle I could really do without, I enjoyed this book a lot, and I have to credit that to a good writer.

Grade: B