September 25th, 2008

Review: RuneWarriors by James Jennewein, Tom S. Parker

by James Jennewein and Tom S. Parker


            When Dane’s father is murdered and his beloved Astrid kidnapped by the tyrant Prince Thidrek, the thirteen-year-old must rally the men of his village to rescue the girl and restore honor to their home. Unfortunately, the destruction is Dane’s fault, because he stole the ancient Shield of Odin, which protected the village for many generations, to impress Astrid and draw her interest away from Jarl the Fair. Lut the Bent, the village seer, casts his ancient runes to hear the voices of the gods, and sends the village men on a quest that leads them to seek the well of wisdom, the frozen lands of the frost giants, and eventually confront Thidrek in the ultimate battle of good vs. evil.

            Doesn’t this sound like the perfect plot for a semi-fantasy summer movie aimed at the childrens’ market? No surprise: James Jennewein and Tom S. Parker are the Hollywood screenwriters responsible for The Flintstones and Richie Rich, and their first novels follows the formulas established for their genre perfectly. Boy doesn’t respect parent. Boy experiences traumatic event and must Grow Up and Be A Man. Boy has love interest. Love interest is threatened. Boy must team up with rival to overcome incredible odds and Save the Day. A dim-witted monster/anthromorphic creature falls in love with the love interest. I could go on and on. Name a trope, and somewhere in RuneWarriors you’ll find it.

            The tone of the book is inconsistent. At times it’s a straightforward historical adventure story, but often it stomps into the realm of fantasy or parody. One moment the characters will speak with ‘tis and my sons, seeking to imitate “ye olde English.” At other times the boys’ speech could belong to any 21st century child running around.   The fixation on alcohol would be fine in a book for an older audience, but for eight year olds? It’s a bit much, even if the characters are Vikings. There are also some very gruesome scenes; again, the intended audience seems a bit young for these books. Plenty of fart jokes tho’.   I hear those little kids really like a good fart joke. But the jokes about merchandising and marketing…will a kid laugh at those?  

            It is also…condescending in tone. It’s hard to explain. The best I can do is that it is like the authors are constantly winking whenever they tell a joke, or there’s a laugh track in the background. I can’t quite put my finger on what gives the narrative this element. 


               RuneWarriors is clearly meant to be the start of a series. The [predictable] ending has been left wide open for a sequel.


I feel like I need to say more positive things about this book. Uhm…the cover looks pretty cool. It does feature a Strong Heroine capable of fighting (or carving exquisite ice sculptures!) with battle axes. 

Eh. Forget it. I do often like childrens’ books – did I not just write a review about how awesome The Graveyard Book was? – but this one kinda sucked. Sorry. Some kids might really go for the adventure, but if I were a parent I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want my kids reading this book. It just won’t do anything for them.

If you would like to read more about this book, buy it or add it to your wishlist, click here.