Adelais is on the run.
And the kingdom of Galmandie has never been more dangerous.
In every town square, people whisper of a girl who brought down lightning on her enemies. The king has placed a huge price on Adelais’s head and sent troops to hunt her down.
Adelais flees high into the mountains. But winter is closing in and she cannot hide for ever.
Far to the north, there is a chance of escape. Her homeland has risen in rebellion against Galmandie. To reach freedom and safety, Adelais must cross many miles of hostile territory with inquisitors and royal soldiers always close behind.
If she is captured, Adelais will be burned as a witch. But if she learns to control the storm of magic within her, she could be the spark that sets the whole country aflame.
Runes of Battle is the second novel in the Rune Song Trilogy, written by G.N. Gudgion, a direct sequel to the ending of Hammer of Fate. Adelais is on the run, with half of the kingdom of Galmandie prosecuting her, and the other half considering her a saint. With the winter closing, hiding in the mountains is no longer an option.
Adelais wants to continue learning how to use runes, and with that in mind, she reaches her friend Agnes looking for a refuge meanwhile she's taught by Elyse, the wise woman. Whilst in hiding, she will also learn a little about how to use a sword and how to ride a war horse, Allier, which has been a present from Humbert.
The Anakritis-General, Ghislain Bartram, has a plan to discover where the fugitives are hiding. Threatening the wellbeing of his brother, he will free a former Guardian, so he can drive the Inquisition into their hiding places; if he manages to do this, and burn Adelais as a witch, King Aloys will stop being paranoid with the former Guardian's Grand Master curse.
Pacing in this sequel is a little bit calmer, despite the tension of being captured still in the atmosphere. Adelaide improves much as a user of the rune powers, and with the help of Agnes, she even becomes a decent swordswoman (even with the limitations she might have). She's embracing the figure of the Lion, becoming a feared but revered figure by many, a sort of Joan D'Arc.
As Pateras Malory has become one of the believers in Adelais, Ghislain Bartram takes the spotlight as the main antagonist of the book. The Angel of Death manages to get information that might look like divine intervention, due to his well-kept secret of messenger pigeons. He's trying to comfort King Aloys and prove that there's no curse at all.
In general, I think this book is one step over the first novel; as we were previously introduced to the situation and the characters, there is more space for intrigue and politics (the de Remy arc is sublime), while developing the magic system more (we only had hints at the first book).
While it is true that we deviate more from canonical historical events, I find some of the scenes introduced in replacement much more enjoyable.
If you like historical fantasy and enjoyed the first book in the series, you will love Runes of Battle, as Gudgion has made an excellent job. I'm really curious to see how Adelais's story will finish in book 3.
I grew up with my nose in a book, often one featuring knights in armour. Later I went looking for stories where women didn’t have to be either beautiful damsels or witches, and found the fantasy genre and the works of J.R.R Tolkein, Guy Gavriel Kay, Mark Lawrence, and Robin Hobb.
When I started writing novels, I had no understanding of genre; I simply wrote the book that was fighting to land on the page. My debut novel, Saxon’s Bane, was a time-slip with a supernatural twist and its roots in the Dark Ages. My second novel, Draca, also crossed the boundaries between literary fiction, historical fiction, and ghost story. Readers loved it. Take a look at the reviews on Amazon.
Since Draca I’ve gravitated to ‘historical fantasy’, the domain of authors such as George R R Martin (Game of Thrones), Andrzej Sapkowski (The Witcher), and Mark Lawrence (The Book of the Ancestor). A character had come into my mind as if she had always been there, waiting for her story to be told; a courageous young woman, raised as a pagan but incarcerated in a nunnery and forced to kneel to a foreign god. The words flowed. One book became two, then three. The trilogy acquired a name: Rune Song. Publishers Second Sky, an imprint of Bookouture/Hachette, released the first in the series, Hammer of Fate, in June 2023.
I live in a leafy corner of England, where I’m a keen amateur equestrian and a very bad pianist. I spend much of my time crafting words in a shed, fifty yards and five hundred years from the house.