Cover image for Runemarks
Title:
Runemarks
Publication Information:
New York : Random House/Listening Library, p2008.
ISBN:
9780739362846
Physical Description:
14 sound discs (ca. 73 min. each) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
Language:
English
General Note:
Unabridged.

Compact discs.
Abstract:
Maddy Smith, who bears the mysterious mark of a rune on her hand, learns that she is destined to join the gods of Norse mythology and play a role in the fate of the world.
Added Author:
Holds:

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CD Book HARRIS, J. RUNEMARKS 1 .CIRCNOTE. 14 compact discs
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CD Book HARRIS [JOANNE] 1 .SOURCE. BWI
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Summary

Summary

Seven o'clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the end of the world, and goblins had been at the cellar again. . . . Not that anyone would admit it was goblins. In Maddy Smith's world, order rules. Chaos, old gods, fairies, goblins, magic, glamours--all of these were supposedly vanquished centuries ago. But Maddy knows that a small bit of magic has survived. The "ruinmark" she was born with on her palm proves it--and makes the other villagers fearful that she is a witch (though helpful in dealing with the goblins-in-the-cellar problem). But the mysterious traveler One-Eye sees Maddy's mark not as a defect, but as a destiny. And Maddy will need every scrap of forbidden magic One-Eye can teach her if she is to survive that destiny. From the Hardcover edition.


Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Norse myth the whole world ended with Ragnar?k, the last battle, at which the gods were defeated and after which eternal winter descended. In her highly successful first children's novel, however, the author of the bestselling Chocolat tells readers what happened next. The supposed end of all things is now centuries past and the Middle World is ruled by the Order, a repressive theocracy reminiscent of the Magisterium in Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. Maddy, born with a rune of power on her hand, is deeply unpopular in her backwoods village. Thorny and imaginative, she is believed to be a witch by the locals who would have cast her out long ago if she didn't have a convenient talent for controlling the goblins that infest their cellars. Such creatures are thick in the village because of its proximity to Red Horse Hill, a place of ancient power. Then Maddy's life is transformed when she meets first One-Eye, a mysterious traveler who agrees to train her in the ways of Fa?rie, and then Lucky, the trickster captain of the goblins under the hill. Throughout, Harris demonstrates a knack for moving seamlessly between the serious and the comic, and her lengthy book moves swiftly. Playing fast and loose with Norse mythology, she creates a glorious and complex world replete with rune-based magical spells, bickering gods, exciting adventures and difficult moral issues. Maddy's destiny, readers realize, is to remake the world, but to succeed she must first remake herself into someone worthy of that fate. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Horn Book Review

Five hundred years have passed since Ragnarok, the end of the world in Norse mythology, but life continues. Deposed gods Odin and Loki persevere in this new world, and they pull young Maddy, a villager despised for her supernatural abilities, into their battles. Through Maddy's eyes, the gods come off as lovable. Harris's fully realized characters inhabit a compelling world. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

Versatile has been one of the most common adjectives used to describe Harris, a best-selling author for adults whose genre-hopscotching books include the romantic Chocolat (1999) and Gentlemen and Players (2006), a literary thriller. Her latest finds her not just switching genres, this time to fantasy, but also shifting to an entirely new audience, young adults. Reminiscent of Nancy Farmer's The Sea of Trolls (2004) in its Norse-myth-steeped fundamentals, this novel, set in a kind of rustic Old World Europe, will hook readers in the initial chapters, where 12-year-old Maddy discovers that her rune-casting mentor is actually a decommissioned Odin. Sensing the next great clash between Chaos and Order (here represented by a rigid, witch-hunting church), Odin sends his charge on a mission that awakens ancient rivalries among the world's scattered, discarded gods and goddesses. It's in the subtle, sometimes biology-defying relationships among the immortals that Harris may lose her audience, despite attempts to incorporate explanations. Even more basic, the premise lacks clarity: it's hard to feel concerned about deities' loss of a war when the stakes are so fuzzy (do they become a little less immortal if they lose?). And while Maddy's fate is more likely to matter to readers, her presence in the narrative often feels overshadowed by the increasingly prominent roles of gods and grown-ups. What will appeal is Harris' down-to-earth portrayal of the deities, whose peevish squabbling and casual, sometimes profane language could have been lifted straight from a high-school cafeteria. Even so, the publisher's major marketing campaign may not be enough to give this dense epic legs.--Mattson, Jennifer Copyright 2007 Booklist


School Library Journal Review

Gr 7-10--Young Maddy Smith lives for the yearly visits from One-Eye, a traveler who has taught her to accept the mysterious runemark (or "ruinmark" as the townsfolk call it) on her palm and to use the magic powers it brings her. This year, through One Eye--who turns out to be the Norse god Odin--she embarks on a daunting adventure into the Earth, taking her all the way down to Hel's domain, where Order and Chaos are pitted against one another and the Whisperer or Nameless One threatens the future of all things. Through Loki, the trickster god, Maddy discovers her own heritage and her true name, and must confront the Whisperer. Joanne Harris's long and rich saga (Random, 2008) is a difficult text to translate into an audiobook. Points of view change from Maddy to other characters. The many characters change "aspects," bodies, and names, and keeping their interactions straight is difficult (the book has a key to the characters). Actress Sile Bermingham uses voices and different accents to differentiate the characters, but listeners may wonder why Loki and Hel (Norse gods) sound Irish; Sugar, a goblin, sounds Cockney; and other gods and people have no obvious accent. Overall, the sound quality is very good and Bermingham does a very good job of narrating with generally excellent diction and expression, though occasionally it is unclear which character is speaking. The audiobook may be more successful as a read-along. Though rich in mystical folkloric references and language as well as quite a bit of humor, it will confuse some listeners and make them wish they had a Norse mythology reference book nearby.--Louise L. Sherman, formerly Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.


Guardian Review

In her adult fiction - Coastliners , Blackberry Wine and Chocolat - Joanne Harris has done a lot with landscape. Language, family, the sinewy ties that bind, are all deeply implicated in the sticks and stones and earth and water through which her characters move (or, more likely, don't move - Harris has a thing for contained and isolated communities). Now, in her first fantasy book for children, that same deep relationship between place and culture is evident. Runemarks is set in the bleak, chilly Strond Valley, which is recognisably Pennine, and her characters, human and faerie, behave with the rough good sense generally thought to belong to the North. Northernness is crucial to this imaginary world, which is set in the distant past/apocalyptic future. Harris has taken her basic map, not to mention many characters, from the old Norse tales, so the likes of Odin, Thor and Loki create havoc against a backdrop of rock and fir and ice. Into this pre-Christian landscape Harris inserts her heroine Maddy, a 14-year-old ostracised by her village community on account of the fact that she can cast "glams" or spells based on the old Norse runes. Predictably Maddy is taken up by a character called One-Eye - yet another sightless seer - and sent on a quest to The World Below to retrieve a treasure of the Elder Age. Harris has clearly had enormous and elaborate fun creating her version of the Norse world view. There are three maps at the front of the book, two pages of characters' names and 16 Runes of the Elder Script to inwardly digest. Whether a 12-year-old will have quite as much fun assimilating this meticulous fantasy is less clear. Certainly, at times I felt as if I were trapped in a laborious computer game whose arbitrary rules I could not be bothered to learn. What's more, at more than 500 pages Runemarks presents a breeze-block of a challenge to any young teenager. I tried it out on a bookish 14-year-old, who looked alarmed. His worried expression suggested what kind of painful marathon lay ahead if, in fact, he failed to get properly caught up in the intricacies of Asgard, Yggdrasil and Hel. But perhaps he will. Harris's great skill lies in pulling back every time her creation veers towards the portentous, that is to say the Tolkienesque. Maddy is given the crisp, cheeky good sense of a North Country lass who doesn't bat an eyelid when a naughty goblin spits at her: "What d'you want me name for, anyroad?" Minor characters sound as if they had strayed in from Emmerdale, and mercifully display no particular desire to speak with weighty resonance. So Runemarks has a narrative nonchalance which just about evens out its ponderous infrastructure. Kathryn Hughes's The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs Beeton is published by Harper Perennial. To order Runemarks for pounds 13.99 with free UK p&p call Guardian book service on 0870 836 0875. Caption: article-rune.1 [Joanne Harris] has clearly had enormous and elaborate fun creating her version of the Norse world view. There are three maps at the front of the book, two pages of characters' names and 16 Runes of the Elder Script to inwardly digest. Whether a 12-year-old will have quite as much fun assimilating this meticulous fantasy is less clear. Certainly, at times I felt as if I were trapped in a laborious computer game whose arbitrary rules I could not be bothered to learn. What's more, at more than 500 pages Runemarks presents a breeze-block of a challenge to any young teenager. I tried it out on a bookish 14-year-old, who looked alarmed. His worried expression suggested what kind of painful marathon lay ahead if, in fact, he failed to get properly caught up in the intricacies of Asgard, Yggdrasil and Hel. - Kathryn Hughes.


Kirkus Review

The Lightning Thief meets The Sea of Trolls in this well-executed, if rather plodding children's debut by the author of the adult novel, Chocolat. In a world where the intolerant "Order" has deemed the old Norse myths as blasphemous, village misfit Maddy Smith discovers she is the daughter of the Norse god Thor. Guided by Loki and advised by Odin, Maddy travels to the "World Below" to try and thwart the prophesied war between the old gods and the new. The heroes win the day, but at least one villain escapes, hinting at a sequel. Unfortunately, Harris's determination to include just about every Norse god in her narrative brings Maddy's quest to a standstill at times. Some youngsters not well-versed in Odin's family tree may find the discussion of the gods' past grudges confusing, while others will be inspired to dig out their old copy of D'Aulaires' Norse Gods and Giants to refresh their memories of the Vanir and Aesir. A mini-course in Norse mythology for the tween set. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Seven o'clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the End of the World, and goblins had been at the cellar again. Mrs. Scattergood-the landlady at the Seven Sleepers Inn-swore it was rats, but Maddy Smith knew better. Only goblins could have burrowed into the brick-lined floor, and besides, as far as she knew, rats didn't drink ale. But she also knew that in the village of Malbry-as in the whole of the Strond Valley-certain things were never discussed, and that included anything curious, uncanny, or unnatural in any way. To be imaginative was considered almost as bad as giving oneself airs, and even dreams were hated and feared, for it was through dreams (or so the Good Book said) that the Seer-folk had crossed over from Chaos, and it was in Dream that the power of the Faerie remained, awaiting its chance to re-enter the world. And so the folk of Malbry made every effort never to dream. They slept on boards instead of mattresses, avoided heavy evening meals, and as for telling bedtime tales-well. The children of Malbry were far more likely to hear about the martyrdom of St. Sepulchre or the latest Cleansings from World's End than tales of magic or of World Below. Which is not to say that magic didn't happen. In fact, over the past fourteen years the village of Malbry had witnessed more magic in one way or another than anyplace in the Middle Worlds. That was Maddy's fault, of course. Maddy Smith was a dreamer, a teller of tales, and worse, and as such, she was used to being blamed for anything irregular that happened in the village. If a bottle of beer fell off a shelf, if the cat got into the creamery, if Adam Scattergood threw a stone at a stray dog and hit a window instead-ten to one Maddy would get the blame. And if she protested, folk would say that she'd always had a troublesome nature, that their ill luck had begun the day she was born, and that no good would ever come of a child with a ruinmark-that rusty sign on the Smith girl's hand- which some oldsters called the Witch's Ruin and which no amount of scrubbing would remove. It was either that or blame the goblins-otherwise known as Good Folk or Faerie-who this summer had upped their antics from raiding cellars and stealing sheep (or occasionally painting them blue) to playing the dirtiest kind of practical jokes, like leaving horse dung on the church steps, or putting soda in the communion wine to make it fizz, or turning the vinegar to piss in all the jars of pickled onions in Joe Grocer's store. And since hardly anyone dared to mention them, or even acknowledge that they existed at all, Maddy was left to deal with the vermin from under the Hill alone and in her own way. No one asked her how she did it. No one watched the Smith girl at work. And no one ever called her witch-except for Adam Scattergood, her employer's son, a fine boy in some ways but prone to foul language when the mood took him. Besides, they said, why speak the word? That ruinmark surely spoke for itself. Now Maddy considered the rust-colored mark. It looked like a letter or sigil of some kind, and sometimes it shone faintly in the dark or burned as if something hot had pressed there. It was burning now, she saw. It often did when the Good Folk were near, as if something inside her were restless and itched to be set free. That summer, it had itched more often than ever, as the goblins swarmed in unheard-of numbers, and banishing them was one way of putting that itch to rest. Her other skills remained unused and, for the most part, untried, and though sometimes that was hard to bear-like having to pretend you're not hungry when your favorite meal is on the table-Maddy understood why it had to be so. Cantrips and runecharms were bad enough. But glamours, true glamours, were perilous business, and if rumor of these were to reach World's End, where the servants of the Order worked day and night in study of the Word . . . For Maddy's deepest secret-known only to her closest friend, the man folk knew as One-Eye-was that she enjoyed working magic, however shameful that might be. More than that, she thought she might be good at it too and, like anyone with a talent, longed to make use of it and to show it off to other people. But that was impossible. At best it counted as giving herself airs. And at worst? Folk had been Cleansed for less. Maddy turned her attention to the cellar floor and the wide-mouthed burrow that disfigured it. It was a goblin burrow, all right, bigger and rather messier than a foxhole and still bearing the marks of clawed, thick-soled feet where the spilled earth had been kicked over. Rubble and bricks had been piled in a corner, roughly concealed beneath a stack of empty kegs. Maddy thought, with some amusement, that it must have been a lively-and somewhat drunken-party. Filling in the burrow would be easy, she thought. The tricky thing, as always, was to ensure it stayed that way. or, the Protector, had been enough to secure the church doors, but goblins had been known to be very persistent where ale was concerned, and she knew that in this case, a single charm would not keep them out for long. All right, then. Something more. From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from Runemarks by Joanne Harris All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.