Review: Runelight (Runemarks #2)

Review: Runelight (Runemarks #2)Runelight by Joanne Harris
Series: Runemarks #2
Also in this series: Runemarks
Released by Corgi on 3 November 2011
Genres: Mythology
Pages: 572 pages
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780857530820
Source: Purchased

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The squabbling Norse gods and goddesses of Runemarks are back! And there's a feisty new heroine on the scene: Maggie, a girl the same age as Maddy but brought up a world apart - literally, in World's End, the focus of the Order in which Maddy was raised. Now the Order is destroyed, Chaos is filling the vacuum left behind... and is breaching the everyday world.

A chilling prophecy from the Oracle. A conflict between two girls. And with just twelve days to stave off the Apocalypse, carnage is about to be unleashed.

The Order is destroyed, but everything is far from over. In World’s End, a girl named Maggie is about to learn a lot about her past. In Malbry, the Gods are trying their best to stop the world from ending, but with Odin the Allfather dead, Ragnarok may mean the end of Aesir and Vanir alike. They must find out the truth behind a mysterious prophecy, stop the world from ending and rebuild Asgard. Piece of cake.

At the beginning of this year, I found out about Runemarks, a fictional book about Norse Gods. I had been a fan of Norse Mythology for a while now, and I was a bit saddened by the fact that there were hardly any fictional books about it; there were plenty for Greek and Roman Mythology, but only a handful for Norse. Then, I found Runemarks and immediately fell in love with the summary. I purchased the book, read it and loved it to bits. When I was in Newcastle, one of the books on my list was Runelight, and Waterstones just happened to have one copy with the right cover (the one that fits my Runemarks cover); so of course, I bought it.

Almost all the characters from the previous book are in Runelight as well. There’s Maddy Smith, who I thought was the main character, but I don’t really think there’s a main character at all in this book (but if it is, it would be Maddy). The Æsir and Vanir Gods (including Thor, Loki and Frigg), Skadi of the Ice people, a goblin called Sugar-and-Sack; and of course the people of Malbry (including Crazy Old Nan Fey, Mae Smith, Adam Scattergood). And there were some new characters; Maggie Rede (not to be confused with Maddy), Sigyn, Angrboda, Jolly, Fenris, Skól, Haiti, Hughie and Mandy, and a horse called Sleipnir.

“Technically, in horse aspect, he was Slepinir’s parent – a relationship he would rather forget.”

Out of these new characters, I have to say I liked Hughie and Mandy the most, though I have to admit throughout the book I wasn’t entirely sure of their loyalty to the people they swore loyalty to. In the end, it was kind of obvious who they were loyal to and I could have slapped myself for not realising that sooner. I liked reading about them, about their plans and their schemes.

I loved reading about the Gods trying to make sense of the prophecy that Ethel had made, about their fight against the creatures that escaped from dream and eventually their journey to World’s End, where after a while they realised they really needed Loki (who’d have thought?!). I especially liked their traveling carnival and I would pay to see a movie made just out of their adventures as that carnival.

The book was divided into several ‘books’, each with a nice little quote at the beginning. There were also some nursery rhymes (one including an old lady flying a washing basket), and the prophecy that Ethel made of course, the one that the Gods had to figure out before traveling to World’s End. In the end, when the parts of the prophecy came true, I have to say it surprised me because I had never expected certain things to go the way they went.

I just love Joanne Harris’ writing, though it’s not really simple, kind of the same as Lord of the Rings and the Trials of the Core perhaps, with several (made-up?) words that were very difficult for me to pronounce and understand, lots of talking in accents (mainly from Hughie) and of course lots of talk about Ragnarok, Chaos, Hel, Asgard etc. This book also teaches the reader more about Norse Mythology, and makes you curious to know even more (at least that’s what it did to me). I really really loved it! I am definitely going to check out more of Harris’ books.

As I said before, Hunin/Hughie talked in a very strong accent in his human aspect, and sometimes I just couldn’t understand what he was saying. So after a while, I just skipped the words that were too hard and got along just fine. There were also the inhabitants of Malbry talking in accents. Though those accents weren’t as strong as Hughie’s and I could manage to read them just fine.

There was also the whole changing POV’s still, which made me realise that this book didn’t really have a proper main character at all, though in my head it’s still Maddy. And there was some confusion with several names. There was Maddy Smith, Maggie Rede and Mandy. I especially confused Maddy and Mandy a lot of times, and then I started asking myself why Mandy was in Maggie’s room, or why Mandy was suddenly riding Jorgie/Jormungand.

The final battle, to save World’s End; to restore Order and banish Chaos was amazing. The Rainbow Bridge (which always makes me think of Mario Kart) made an appearance, and the three riders; Carnage, Treachery and Lunacy (two of those who were very surprising) were really awesome. Of course, several moments during the story I asked myself if the Gods were ever going to have some luck for once, but in the end it all worked out and the book had an amazing and satisfying ending, in my opinion.

I loved Runelight as much as I loved Runemarks, and I will definitely recommend these two books to everyone who loves a good story about love, friendship and Norse Gods.