Book Review: Runes Plain and Simple

Another Rune book caught my eye, so I bought it. The book is called Runes Plain & Simple by Kim Farnell (ISBN: 9781571747495). Having read through it, I found there are some very good things, and a few questionable. I'll explain.

I saw the book at a local new age shop and wanted to buy it, mostly to encourage them to carry more Rune books. It is also good to support people who write for our community. The book cost about fifteen dollars for 155 pages, which seemed normal.

The book starts out with a history of the Runes. The history covers the Runes as both a worldly writing system as well as a mystical system captured by Odin. Though at a high level, this section appears to be well thought out. It hits on why there are different systems and the linguistic variations driving that. It discusses repression by Christianity and the damage done by the Nazis. Again, this is a good introduction targeted to a person who has never heard this before.

It follows with a section on creating one's own Rune blocks. Again, this is pretty good for an introductory presentation. There is a discussion of different materials, including a listing of different trees and their properties. The section explains how making your own helps imbue them with a connection to you. So this, again, was very good for the new Rune learner.

Unfortunately, the quality of information deteriorates at that point. The discussion of the religion and of the individual Runes is very light. The material felt like it came from someone who had a few conversations with Heathens about the topic and then wrote what they remembered. At one point, there is a blatant bit of confusion between Frey and Freya. I get that they have a lot in common, but a person who did real research would not have made this mistake.

The discussion of the Runes covers each, trying to give an overall meaning, a positive meaning for a reading, a negative meaning for a reading, and a use for magic. The general meanings often miss the mark by a bit. The positive meanings often seem a little too vague but positive. The negative meanings are similarly shallow. The use in magic appears in a sentence or two for each Rune.

Not everyone ascribes a positive or negative value to Runes based on whether they are upright or inverted. That is okay. However, if you are going to associate meanings, they really need more depth and they really should be based on more of the common research.

After reading the history and the part about crafting your own blocks, I had high hopes for the book as a nice introduction for someone curious but not committed to the religion. Unfortunately, the rest of the text dashed that hope. There are other Rune books available that do a better job and are better researched.