Authors: John Flanagan
Year published: 2005
Number of pages: 272
Recommended age: 10+
Daughter's Rating: ★★★★½
Daughter's Rating: ★★★★½
Mom's Rating: ★★★★½
Mom's Rating: ★★★★½
Summary (from Amazon): 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. . . .
What it’s about: “A thrilling adventure in the international bestselling series,” so it says on the back of the book, Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan. Ranger’s Apprentice is a series filled with danger and fearsome enemies around every corner. Main characters in the story: Will, the orphan boy with no last name; Halt, the mysterious ranger; and Horace, the orphaned Battleschool scholar.
What I liked and disliked about it: In this story, our young hero finds his destiny as a Ranger’s apprentice, but you most likely figured that out already from the title! The book teaches many lessons. For example, Will (our main character) blindingly thinks only of his weaknesses and the things he cannot do even when using his talents.
Although they say that the series can be read in any order as each book has its own standalone adventure, I highly advise you not to do that and rather to read from the first book until the last, because of the characters you meet along the way and get to know. This is a fantasy world like no other.
My favorite part of the story was when you first experience his talents as he hides in the shadows and sort of blends into them and then climbs up a tower (free handedly, I might add) just to see what the Ranger had written about him on a slip of paper. This story brought me a sense of thrill and left me wanting to read the rest of the series. What I disliked most in the book was that the adventure moved slower than the 3rd book.
My bottom line: I would recommend this book to the ages of 11-15 for both boys and girls.
What it’s about: This is a coming-of-age book in a fantasy world of ordinary people, heroes, villains, monsters and medieval weaponry. Will, the protagonist, has to deal with insecurities, being bullied, personal fears and pre-conceived ideas in order to become the person he’s meant to be.
The story opens with the exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, who is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. It then takes the reader to the Castle Redmont where we meet the orphan Will who, unlike the other four orphans at the castle, does not have a last name. All he knows for sure is that his father died a hero 15 years ago in the battle against Morgarath, who was defeated and exiled. Will creates a story about his father being a great knight, as he wants to impress his peers and also fill the void of not knowing. His dream is to become a knight as he imagines his father was.
Soon, he and his peers will be chosen as apprentices to different professions. It’s a very stressful time for him, because his future is at stake. What if no one wants him? He seems to be lacking in skills and physique. If he doesn’t get chosen as an apprentice, he will have to spend the rest of his life working the land as a farmer. He gets put to the test, although he is not aware of this, and is later chosen to be trained as the Ranger’s apprentice. It’s certainly better than working the land, but Will is sceptical of what being a Ranger really entails. He’s also wary of Halt, the Ranger, under whose care and training he now is.
The main characters: Will, the seemingly inadequate orphan of unknown origin who becomes the Ranger’s apprentice; Halt, the quiet and unsmiling Ranger who trains Will; and Horace, the strongest of the three orphan boys at the castle who often picks on Will, gets seriously bullied by a group of older boys at Battleschool, and later becomes Will’s friend.
What I liked and disliked about it:
- The dialogue in the book is very natural with humor woven throughout.
- The characters are well developed.
- The story takes many twists and turns.
- The reader learns about the recurve bow, boar spears and other ancient weapons.
- Will is not overly portrayed as a hero, but is a real boy with the courage to train hard, do his best and willing to accept help.
- Although the characters are well developed, there is still the standard stereotyping of the other four orphans in that their physiques fit their apprenticeship roles.
- Two monsters that Will and Halt have to face, called the Kalkara, are greedy for silver and this is how Morgarath gets them to do what he wants. The story never explains why they like silver and to me this fact just didn’t seem very plausible.
- For all the interesting facts and details about the weapons, it would have been nice if there were some black and white illustrations depicting them.
My bottom line: I would recommend this book for ages 11 – 15 for both boys and girls. I even enjoyed it as an adult. The author, John Flanagan, originally wrote this series to encourage his son to read. I think he’s done a great job, not only in creating an interesting adventure story that will keep readers enthralled, but also in teaching important life lessons.
Visit Ranger’s Apprentice at http://rangersapprentice.wikia.com/wiki/The_Ruins_of_Gorlan for more information on the book.
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