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Runic Primer: A Down-to-Earth Guide for Beginners

by Sweyn, available from Rune-net

Firstly I'd like to offer my personal apologies to Sweyn for this delayed review. Phil did pass me the book some time ago and I've just not quite got round to it!

In Runic Primer, Sweyn sets out to deliver a book aimed at newcomers to the runes that simultaneously has an academic background, but is not too dry. The problem with genuine academic books on runes is that, personal agendas aside, they can be heavy, and potentially dull reading. Other so-called "academic" source material from some of the more esoteric writers can be hideously unreliable, basing itself of the pseudo-academia of pro-Third Reich Germanic romantics. Anyway, that's my rant out of the way. Mercifully, this book has nothing in common with either. Sweyn has successfully delivered exactly what he set out to and has produced a no-nonsense guide that is grounded in reliable sources.

The book introduces key concepts, including the main different rune rows and terminology that is commonly used. Whilst Sweyn is honest about the problems with authenticity with rune magic, he provides useful pointers for source material and includes a sensible bibliography. Sweyn includes useful practical information too, suggesting techniques and common esoteric interpretations of runes. At the same time, he warns of the dangers inherent in using the runes without understanding their qualities. Most usefully, he includes the Norse, Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon rune poems, which are invaluable sources to anyone interested in developing any genuine magical understanding of the runes.

Sweyn's writing style is as down-to-earth as the book promises and is quite lucid. The information he has chosen to include is both relevant and informative. If I was starting out with the runes, this is the book I would want to find. As such, it comes highly recommended. - Ed Richardson