Thorsson's knowledge of the historical aspect of Runes solid and there are many moments in the book, where the writing flows almost poetically. For example, on the very first page, he explains Runes like this:
"It is this form that is inscribed as a symbol for a formless and timeless idea."It's well said and eloquent and I hoped for more of this throughout the rest of the book. In fact, there were snippets from some of the Rune interpretations, that I really liked, such as when he referred to Kenaz as "the ability and will to generate and create" and likened it to a Rune for craftspeople and artists.
His description of Nauthiz as "will-directed action" really empowered the definition of that Rune for me too. Some of the ideas in his chapter on Rune Work were also interesting and I think they could be a great tool for those looking to expand or contemplate new and different ways to engage with the Runes.
However, overall, this book simply did not resonate with me. I found myself constantly questioning Thorsson's interpretations of Rune meanings. I wasn't questioning whether he was right or wrong, rather wanting to know his source for the deductions and claims he made. I wanted to understand how he drew his conclusions. For example, he claims "Fehu is the raw archetypal energy of motion and expansion in the multiverse" and that it is the "basic force of fertility." But, I don't understand how he reaches these conclusion and that is a question I need to have answered for my own understanding.
Perhaps the biggest issue I had with Thorsson's interpretations is with Mannaz, when he states that Heimdall is Odin in "one of his many guises". I researched Heimdall for two years when I was writing my novel, The Son of Nine Sisters, and never found any indication that he was anything other than a god and entity to himself. I'm not saying the information showing this to be true doesn't exist, rather that, if Thorsson has such evidence, he needs to show it to me.
On a broader scale, it may well be that this book doesn't resonate with me because of its presentation. Thorsson presents almost everything from a cosmological or multiverse external experience as a way to engage and understand the Runes, whereas my engagement with them is grounded in an Earth or Midgard-based perspective. Maybe the complexity with which he approaches the topic is lost on me.
Of course, I have talked to people whose response to this book was similar to mine and I know people who love it. I say this to point out that Futhark is not a bad book; it just wasn't the book for me. That is why personal choice is so important and one of the things I love about the Runes. Each person has to figure out for themselves how to interpret them and what better way to do that than by reading a variety of perspectives.
Will I use this book as a reference source in my work with the Runes? Yes. Will I use it often? Probably not. My go to book is The Rune Primer.
Regardless of my thoughts on Thorsson's Futhark, it is one that should be a part of any undertaking to learn the Runes, because it does provide a unique point of view.