Are you ready to hear about my favorite book series? Australian author John Flanagan brings us the Ranger’s Apprentice series, which has captivated me for several years. Each of the twelve books is exciting to read the first time through, and just as exciting a second time.
It tells the tale of a boy named Will, an orphan raised in a medieval castle’s ward. Come Choosing Day, when the orphans are selected for apprenticeships, not a single craftmaster chooses Will. Tears well up as his fellow wards are selected to become warriors, scribes, and diplomats, while he will become merely a farmhand. Then, Will receives the biggest shock of his life: he is selected to be trained as a Ranger’s apprentice (hence the title). The King’s Rangers are an elite and mysterious force of master archers, serving directly under the king. Their skill set includes tracking, wielding knives and bows, and vanishing into the forest with their mottled cloaks. The Rangers silently monitor the fiefdoms and watch over the citizens. Just like Batman. Though Will is apprehensive at first, he soon realizes that this life is infinitely more exciting than being a farmer. And so, for the rest of the twelve books I won’t summarize, Will and his master Halt go on all sorts of adventures spanning a variety of countries, from deserts to snowy mountains.
There are many reasons why this series has stuck with me so long. Every single book is a well crafted mix of adventure, humor, and well placed sarcasm. What’s more, all of their adventures are unique storylines, deviating from a lot of cookie cutter books out there. The language is wonderfully detailed; I can recognize Flanagan’s style from other authors by the telltale ways he writes his stories. Of course, the characters all have distinct personalities, likes and dislikes, so that everyone has multiple dimensions. We readers can better understand and sympathize with their decisions. In fact, some of the best scenes in these books come from byplay between friends, and outright clashes of different personalities.
Another aspect that I love about this book is how well Flanagan envisions the Ranger Corps. The common people regard them as an arcane group shrouded in mystery, a group dealing with matters more important than the peasant’s daily lives. When we follow the life and adventures of Will, it almost feels like we have become a part of the tight knit group, and we familiarize ourselves with each person. This is the reason I keep rereading these books— I’ve become emotionally attached to fictional characters!
So, when you’re ready to dive into this fantastical world of knights and villains, read through the Ranger’s Apprentice series. Become a part of the King’s Rangers.
The Ranger’s Apprentice series can be checked out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.