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RuneWarriors
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.

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Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
ext_120059
Sep. 26th, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
Your review makes me glad I chose not to pick this one.
ext_120059
Sep. 26th, 2008 01:51 pm (UTC)
I Love Your Blog
I nominated you for the I Love Your Blog award!

http://www.skrishnasbooks.com/2008/09/i-love-your-blog-award.html
jeannietran
Sep. 26th, 2008 04:05 pm (UTC)
That's too bad. In the beginning of your review I got a little excited because I really like Norse mythology, but the book sounds like it would bug me. I just finished the first Twilight book and you were right. It's pretty terrible.
fashion_piranha
Sep. 26th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
And yet, in spite of the badness of Twilight will you keep reading?

I was totally excited when I heard about RuneWarriors, because really, there just aren't enough good books about Vikings, right? But this was a bad book.

If I had done a better job of researching the authors, I probably would not have requested this book. The last script these guys sold to a major movie company was in 1994 (according to IMDB anyway) yet HarperCollins advertises these men as screenwriters. It is like calling myself a fashion designer when I am not producing any clothing.
Have they done nothing else these past fourteen years? (That's actually really harsh and I shouldn't say that. One of the authors, Jennewein, has been teaching at UCLA. But why not mention that in the author biography, I wonder? Personally, that impresses me a lot more than knowing he wrote The Flintstones. Did you ever see that movie? It was AWFUL!)
jeannietran
Sep. 26th, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
I will keep reading it, just to see where she goes with the story and how it ends. The writing style is rather irksome - like a freshman in high school trying to make her paper better by sprinkling in random big words that no one ever uses. Also, random words will be italisized, yet their emphases make no sense! And the story line, geez. She doesn't make me want to believe in vampires, nothing draws me into the book. Have you ever read any books by L.J. Smith? She wrote The Vampire Diaries and Night World series that I read sometime around middle school and they were way better.

Sorry, didn't mean to turn this into a Twilight rant. But you're definately right, there aren't enough books about vikings. We should write books. With my mythology knowledge and your creativy, we could have the next literary sensation.
k00kaburra
Sep. 29th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
Did the Vampire Diaries involve two vampire brothers - possibly twins? - and some pretty human girl? I seem to remember reading a book along those lines in middle school, but I don't think I read the whole series. There was a scene somewhere about how one of the vampires' former lovers faked her own death by putting a pile of ashes in the middle of a garden or something?

Definitely haven't read Night World. I really liked Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire series in middle school, and the Anne Rice books. At one point I was reading quite a lot of vampire fiction, but I can't remember most of it now. I've got a review for another vampire book coming up - it's called The Opposite of Life.

Clearly, we need to have a book about Viking Vampires. This will be our next epic project.
ext_120059
Sep. 28th, 2008 02:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that was how it was! Winchester did go off on a lot of tangents and the whole time, I was like "China? Remember China? Let's talk more about that!" It really was much more of a biography, except I think that makes the title a bit misleading, because you expect to read about China!
the_kestral
Sep. 28th, 2008 04:18 pm (UTC)
sounded interesting reading what the premise of the story was. But in reading the rest of your review it sounds as though it would be a disappointing book.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 29th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC)
Ruin Warriors
Great review. You did a good job covering all the salient points, and certainly made up my mind for me.

ThePam - LibraryThing
www.booksforkids-reviews.com
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