I read a book a long time ago that felt like it was the start of a series. I forget most of the details but it has a very unique magic system based on runes. What I remember is that:

  • The main character is female I think
  • Magic requires runes, crafted by "rune smiths", but must be cast by a separate person. It might be possible that magic requires 3 people, but I forget what the third person might do.
  • People who can create magic are either rune smiths or the people who can actually cast. Each person has only the one or the other talent.
  • The main character I believe has some special ability relating to magic, but I'm not sure anymore what it is.

I remember the thing that stood out the most for me was the magic system requiring multiple people for it to work.

I read it some time between 2003-2005. The book was at the local library so I don't know if the time I found it will help with the date of publication. After reading the description of Runelords and the first few pages of the first book I am convinced that the book I am looking for is not Runelords.


4 Answers 4


This might be "The Last Rune" series by Mark Anthony. The series follows two main characters, Grace Beckett and Travis Wilder.

There are three different ways of using runes in the series: runebinders can bind runes into an object, runespeakers can "cast" a rune and use its power, and runebreakers can break a bound rune. Runelords, who are rare, can do all three.

Also, the Grace Beckett character has a magical power unconnected to runes, based on an earth-magic concept.

More information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Rune and here: http://wyrdwood.net/thelastrune/

  • I'm going to have to go look for that. Sounds fascinating.
    – Bobson
    Jan 31, 2014 at 18:17

Runelords Series by David Farland seems to fit the description. http://www.runelords.com/

  • with the exception of the main char being male, the magic system fits to a tee, what convinced you this isn't it? (Not disagreeing, you just seem really sure :))
    – Daniel E.
    Nov 20, 2013 at 0:33
  • Aren't later novels in the series following a female character? The original character's daughter, maybe? I never got that far.
    – Bobson
    Jan 31, 2014 at 18:17
  • The magic in Runelords doesn't work like described at all. The runes take people attributes, Strength, Metabolism, Eyesight, Hearing, Beauty and gives them to someone else. Leaving the person that has granted the attribute without that attribute .i.e blind, weak, slow, ugly, and have to be protected lest the Rune Lord lose those powers. The runes are not used to cast magic, other than the magic used to borrow the attributes and brand the rune onto the skin of both parties. Jan 21, 2016 at 16:13
  • @Bobson the later novels follow the original characters son in his fight against the wyrmling hordes, and he has very few runes branded onto him unlike his father Jan 21, 2016 at 16:14

Similarly to Carlos' answer, there's the Illumination series, where:

Magic is strongest when cast in threes--scribers, illuminators, and binders. (quote)

The main character is female, and especially powerful until her magic deserts her.


It might be Runemarks by Joanne Harris

Per wikipedia:
"The book was published on August 2, 2007, by Doubleday Publishing and is set in a world where the Norse gods still survive as outlaws, their powers diminished, while a new and more powerful religion, the Order, tries to wipe out magic from the world. Harris has stated that she was inspired to write the book due to her love of Norse mythology as a child, with the book being loosely based on a novel she wrote in her late teens."

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    Can you explain why you think this is the answer? May 18, 2014 at 6:41
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    May 18, 2014 at 8:38

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