★★★★★ Runes is the fourth entry in Alex Walker’s Toltec series—and his wildest ride yet. The book opens with the sinking of a Spanish galleon, heavily laden with treasure and doomed to go under during a violent storm near the Caribbean coast. Nearly 250 years later, United States President Rutherford B. Hayes assembles a group of patriotic thrill-seekers to bring the gold back for the benefit of their country. But the discovery of a priceless artifact among the treasure points to the possibility of an even larger payoff somewhere in the Arctic Circle. Runes follows returning characters Simon Murphy, Elijah Walker, and Professor George Scott, who have been chasing treasure for years now. As competing interests start to vie for the men’s attention, it dawns on them that this might be their final mission. But, if you’re going to go out, it’s certainly better to go out in style. And with Vikings entering the mix now, there’s no telling where the trail will lead them.
If you’ve read Walker before, then you know that what starts simple will likely end big. In that regard, Runes certainly doesn’t disappoint. Rather than grow comfortable with re-hashing old plotlines, the author digs even deeper into the story-telling vault, rewarding readers with a story that is even more outsized and more entertaining than the three novels preceding it. Undoubtedly, there is a tendency to not want to give too many plot elements away when discussing stories like these—and we won’t break with tradition in that regard—but, if you haven’t yet sunk into the Toltec series, be advised that these books are unlike anything you’ve read before—and that the stakes only get higher with each new entry.