The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan. Puffin, 2006. 249p. (9780142406632) Series: The Ranger’s Apprentice, #1
The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan. Puffin, 2006. 262p. (9780399244551) Series: The Ranger’s Apprentice, #2
The Icebound Land by John Flanagan. Puffin, 2007. 266p. (9780399244568) Series: The Ranger’s Apprentice, #3
Several middle school boys at my school asked repeatedly if we had the rest of the series and over Christmas I finally had the opportunity to buy books five through eleven. Also since some sixth graders wanted this to be the next read aloud I decided to read book one for myself. And I was hooked. I’ve read the first three books in three days and the only reason I’m not reading book four right now is because it’s checked out.
The Ruins of Gorlan
They have always scared him in the past — the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice. What he doesn't yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied....
Bracing for a final clash with the evil warlord Morgarath, the Rangers rally the kingdom's allies, and Will is chosen, along with his friend Horace, as special envoys to nearby Celtica. But the simple mission soon takes an unsettling turn - the Celticans have disappeared, their town abandoned. The scheming hand of Morgarath, it seems, has been far from idle. He has found a way to bring his legions over the once impassible eastern mountains and is planning to ambush the king's army in a rout. Now with help many miles away, Will and Horace are the only ones standing in the way of the dark lord's plans. They have shown great skill and courage in their training, but how will they fare in the face of true evil?
Kidnapped after the fierce battle with Lord Morgarath, Will and Evanlyn are bound for Skandia as captives aboard a fearsome wolfship. Halt has sworn to rescue Will, and he will do anything to keep his promise. Even defy his King. Expelled from the Rangers he has served so loyally, Halt is joined by Will’s friend Horace as he travels toward Skandia. On their way, they are challenged constantly by freelance knights, but Horace knows a thing or two about combat. Soon he begins to attract the attention of knights and warlords for miles around with his uncanny skill. Even so, will they be in time to rescue Will from a horrific life of slavery?
This is a great adventure series for middle school boys and up. As well for any girls who enjoy action and adventure and don’t mind if there are less than five female characters. Plus it helps that Will is very likable fellow. I enjoyed watching Will and his friends grow in their various chosen fields of study and to learn some of the work and dedication it takes to survive battleschool or being a ranger’s apprentice.
On the website for the series there is an interview with the author. To the question, “What are the biggest challenges of writing a series?” John Flanagan replies, “Finding a good spot to break between two books, without having people howl at me, ‘That’s a terrible cliffhanger!’ There has to be a sense of completion, but at the same time a sense that the story will continue.” Judging from the first three book he has mastered finding good breaks. Each book has its own battle or dangerous journey that drives the story but it also sets up the plot for the next book.
There are no romantic scenes, the fighting is not gorily described, and there is a little bit of swearing (mainly the d word) and I noticed especially in book three that God’s name is used in vain.
Overall I believe this is (at least thus far) a great adventure series for middle school boys who love the stealth of Robin Hood but also the action, battle strength and chivalry of a Sir Richard of the Lee.
Go read it! Book #1: Find it at a library near you; Buy it from Amazon ; Book #2: Find it at a library near you; Buy it from Amazon; Book #3: Find it at a library near you; Buy it from Amazon'
Disclosure: I borrowed this from the library. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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