Raj Ahtan has fled from Gaborn Val Orden, the prophesied and ascendant Earth King. Tricked on the field of battle by a ruse, Ahtan is far from vanquished. Bolstered by the strength, speed, stamina, charisma, and beauty of thousands of men, he moves to strike at where Gaborn is weakest, to tear down the kingdoms of Rofehaven from within. But while Ahtan works to lure Gaborn into a trap, Gaborn realizes a greater enemy is threatening, and designs a plan that he hopes will ally Ahtan with him against this foe.

Taking place over the course of just a few days, Brotherhood of the Wolf picks up right where The Sum of All Men left off without breaking stride. Gaborn is grappling with the ramifications of becoming the Earth King, as well as his marriage to Iome Sylvarresta, the daughter of the late King Jas Laren Sylvarresta. Determined not to use forcibles to increase his strength and power, Gaborn finds himself at an immediate disadvantage to Ahtan's super human abilities, not to mention vulnerable to any who does not share his qualms.

It is an ongoing source of dissonance for Gaborn: he sees the slavery and debilitation caused when ever one man gives his abilities to another, but is faced with an enemy that is prepared to end not just humanity but all life on the earth. Should he accept the endowments of other men to become strong enough for the coming battle, or should he rely on his new found abilities as the Earth King? With the selection by the Earth, though, comes responsibility above those of other men, and Gaborn must weigh the future of all men as he makes his decisions.

With how short a time as passes during the novel, events unfold at a breakneck pace. If only Farland would move his text as fast. Not atypical for an epic fantasy, Brotherhood clocks in at nearly 700 pages. Frequently I found myself wondering if a few of those pages weren't unnecessary to the story.

The result is that Farland develops his characters more than might otherwise be possible in such a short period of time. The length of the novel lends itself to more viewpoints than a shorter story might allow, and shows the reader a broader vision of the events unfolding. While the story never drags—per se—a faster paced story might have spent less time with each view point.

If The Sum of All Men was intended to introduce the main protagonist and antagonist of The Runelords series, then Brotherhood feels like a pulling back of the curtain. The threat to Rofehaven and the entire world is far greater than anything introduced in The Sum of All Men, and Farland takes advantage of the opportunity to hint at the scope of his series by introducing side plots, new abilities to what initially appeared to be small characters, and expanding his system of magic beyond the initial forcibles/endowments magic introduced in the first book.

Picking up a thick novel is always a risky endeavor. The time investment is long, and the pay-off may be a long time in coming. In the end, Farland provides, however, delivering a denouement that satisfies his promises, if not perfectly, at least satisfactorily. It'sa worthy successor to The Sum of All Men and continuation of The Runelords' series. I ran into Farland at the Salt Lake FanXperience in April and picked up Wizardborn from him there. I look forward to following where he takes Gaborn, Iome, Ahtan, and the rest of his growing cast next.