This is the first book in an epic fantasy. It stands alone just fine but it sets you up to buy the eight current books and wonder when the 9th and supposed final volume will be released. It is a tale of confused good and conflicted evil.
The Reavers are the bogeyman in this tale. They are large, powerful and inexplicable beings that are referred to more than shown. Raj Ahten seeks to brutally unite humanity under his banner to supposedly defend against the Reavers. Gaborn, son of a king, finds himself thrust into an unanticipated role opposing Raj Ahten.
The title of Runelord refers to those members of a fuedal society that receive endowments from others. Those endowments such as brawn, wit or stamina enhance the ability of the recepient by the strength of the one who is giving the endowment. Conversely it robs the giver of the strength they are giving. For example a dedicate(the giver) who provides his wit becomes a drooling idiot after giving his wit.
Farland has created an interesting world where a person may be ten times as smart or 50 times faster by receiving the endowments of others. I like the fact that he also shows the negative side effects of the process. Accelerated metabolism also leads to accelerated aging and earlier death. The entire concept is intriguing both for its effects and the morality surrounding the societal concept of selling or giving your abilities to another. I'm no sure that there isn't some social commentary incorporated into the book.
This is an excellent introduction to a complex and intriguing society.
I recommend the book.
Web Site: http://davidfarland.com/
This book may have been received free of charge from a publisher or a publicist. That will NEVER have a bearing on my recommendations.