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The Wyrmling Horde: The Seventh Book of the Runelords    by David Farland order for
Wyrmling Horde
by David Farland
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

As Sons of the Oak (the sixth Runelords episode) ended, the Earth King's son Fallion Orden (a powerful wizard in his own right) had just bound together two shadow worlds - of the countless ones splintered when the Seal of Creation was broken - and had been captured by Knight Eternal Vulgnash, servant to the terrible Lord Despair - who has taken over the body of prince Areth Sul Urstone.

Now in The Wyrmling Horde, we see the devastating aftereffects of the binding of worlds, in widespread changes to individuals and to entire landscapes. Fallion is imprisoned in Rugassa and horribly tortured by enforced empathy with human prisoners, who are being steadily dismembered to keep him in agony. Rhianna uses artificial wings (previously taken from the corpse of a Knight Eternal) and now uses them to seek allies in a once familiar world whose detailed transformations continually surprise her. She trades forcibles and blood metal with the horse clans.

In parallel with Rhianna's efforts, we see human refugees fleeing the destruction of Caer Luciare by wyrmlings, including Rhianna's foster sister, warrior woman Talon, and the legendary - and handsome - Emir Tuul Ra, whom Talon admires. The Emir will do anything to save his friend, prince Areth. To rescue as many of the refugees as possible, Daylan Hammer and Wizard Sisel lead them into the perilous world of the Bright Ones, where they are granted temporary refuge, and win recruits for the battle to save Fallion and all the worlds.

Ultimately, a small group (including Rhianna, Talon and the Emir) accept multiple endowments of attributes including 'brawn, grace, metabolism, stamina, sight, smell, and hearing' from those who willingly sacrifice their own abilities for the greater good. They journey to Rugassa in a desperate attempt to rescue Fallion. Though I had read only the earliest Runelords books, I was able to catch up on the main characters and action and enjoy this latest episode in an unusual and highly imaginative fantasy series.

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