In our ongoing effort to find books to occupy our time while we (im)patiently await Book 5, we came across Runebinder, an incredible read that quickly made its way onto our list of favorites!
It isn’t often that we come across a magic system that truly stands out from the rest, but this book has exactly that – an incredible elemental magic system that grabbed our attention and wouldn’t let go. Think Avatar: The Last Airbender combined with the Ancient Language’s physical capability limitations, and toss in elemental and emotional links to chakras, and you’ve got Runebinder‘s epic system of magic!
What is Runebinder?
The book follows Tenn, a young Hunter fighting to survive in a ruined landscape of the Earth he once knew, torn asunder by the evil use of elemental magic. 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.
Tenn and a team of three Hunters – those who work to oppose the necromancers and save the world from their death-ridden rule – harness elemental magics, including the Spheres of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth, and travel necromancer-controlled lands in their quest to turn the tides of war. But all is not as it seems, as Tenn finds himself being used as a pawn in a larger game, all while struggling to control the powerful Water rebelling against its host.
This book stands out in a number of ways, from its Harry-Potter-gone-wrong, magic-destroyed world to its Hunters empowered with Spheres of elemental magics! Here are some of our favorite aspects:
- Tenn is powerful, but finds himself at the mercy of his own power – the Sphere of Water – which often takes control to do its own bidding, allowing Tenn (intentionally or not) to achieve feats that would kill the average Water user.
- Necromancers. Super-zombies. Air-sucking demons. This book explores necromancy with a twist, as evil magicians kill and enslave humans, turning some by emptying the power from their elemental Sphere.
- Post-apocalyptic Earth. Most dystopian books set on Earth tackle scifi topics, but Runebinder explores a more adult, Harry-Potter-gone-wrong approach. Schools were established to train young magic users before the Earth was torn asunder by the necromancers who sought to control and pervert magic for their own gain.
- Elemental magic. Seriously, this book’s magic system kicks ass! The excerpt below (as well as our earlier explanation in the post’s intro) perfectly demonstrates the type of magic you’ll find throughout the book!
- These characters are real. In the book’s down moments, we see the main character struggle with true depression, sadness, and longing for the unbroken world he lived in not too long ago.
- A natural exploration of LGBT characters in a way that shuns stereotypes and leaves you invested in the characters’ interactions.
Read for free!
It’s hard to choose a favorite moment from Runebinder, but we wanted to highlight one of our favorite scenes from early on in the book for you to get a sense of what to expect from this jam-packed adventure:
Water and blood seeped through Tenn’s jeans, his numb arm limp. He could only stare at the blood and wonder at how quickly this had come, his end. At how easy it was to die. Pain seared across his back as a Howl ripped through his flesh. Blood was everywhere—black blood, red blood, red rain. The Sphere of Water screamed inside of him as his own life spilled forth. Memories rode the current—flashes of his mother and father, the few friends he’d made and lost, his mother’s voice and a lullaby he couldn’t place. His eyes fluttered. His working hand dropped his staff.
This is how it feels to die, and I will be eaten before they find my corpse.
As another kraven lunged for the kill, mouth wide and broken teeth bared, the Sphere of Water opened unbidden in Tenn’s stomach.
Power flooded him, rushing through in a whirlpool of memory and pain, a roar that filled him with a thousand freezing agonies, dragging him down, down, down into the pits of his every despair. Down into the deepest depth of power.
The Sphere connected him to the rain hammering from the sky and the blood pooling on the ground and the pulse in every vein of every creature within a mile. He could feel it. All of it. He felt Katherine a few yards away, her heart throbbing so fast it hurt his own. He felt the Howls, their pulses thick and jagged and starved.
Most of all, he felt power. More than he had ever tapped before. The rage, the fear, the anger, the thirst. It made his limbs vibrate, made his breath catch, made the rain around him seethe and hum. And in that split second after Water’s opening, he wrapped his fingers deep into the torrent and screamed.
The rain shivered. Changed. He twisted the power and twisted the elements and raindrops became ice, became shards sharper than glass, became hammers that lashed from the sky with sickening velocity. His Sphere raged in joy and agony as its power unleashed, as the bloodlust filled his darkening vision and screams filled the air. His screams. Their screams. Blades of ice met flesh, sliced through skin and bone. Ice spilled forth blood, and Water rejoiced as the world drenched itself in crimson.
You can read the first two chapters of the book for free via Amazon’s Kindle service (in browser, on your phone, or on a Kindle device)!