Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

The Ranger’s Apprentice series revolves around a boy named Will, an orphan taken in as a castle ward at Redmont fief, one of the fifty fiefs in Araluen. This first book follows his acceptance into the respected (and feared) Ranger Corps, the highly capable unseen protectors of the kingdom. As an orphan with no last name or memory of who his parents were, Will is set, along with his fellow wards, to be chosen by one of the Craftmasters and trained in service of the kingdom. 

However, Will’s skill set doesn’t fit any of the apprenticeships that his peers are chosen for. After Will climbs the tower up to the Baron’s office to try and find out his fate and the mysterious Ranger Halt catches him, he’s told that he would be most suitable for Ranger training. He learns to use the Ranger’s choice weapons, the bow, a throwing knife, and the specially made saxe knife, and learns the art of unseen movement, the key to a Ranger’s job in protecting his assigned fief. 

Meanwhile, Morgarath, the lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, exiled from Araluen, plots his revenge against the kingdom. Having been planning for 15 years, he begins to mobilize his army of monstrous Wargals and unleashes the terrifying Kalkara, huge beasts of war that can freeze a man with their eyes. When word of this gets to Araluen, the Ranger Corps are put on high alert. Will, Halt, and another Ranger, Gilan, set off to track and kill the Kalkara. The book ends with Araluen mobilizing for war with Morgarath.

In addition to Will’s journey towards becoming a Ranger, I was particularly taken with his interaction with Horace, one of the castle wards and one of Will’s long-time bullies. Horace is accepted to Battleschool, training to be a knight; however, since he was alienated as an orphan, many of the other knight apprentices begin to bully him, causing Horace, in turn, to lash out at Will. After Halt gets rid of the Battleschool bullies, the two boys reconcile their differences and become fast friends; they see past their conflict and find a true friend in each other. I learned something crucial from this: that hostility is often rooted in something that can be solved with listening and understanding.

I love this series because it can be enjoyed immensely by anyone of any age; Flanagan transformed stories composed for his son into 12 artfully written novels of heroism, humor, and friendship. I highly recommend this book and this series to anyone in need of a fun and satisfying read.

-Adelle W.

The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan

rangersapprentice_johnflanaganAre 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.

Book Review: The Invaders by John Flanagan

invadersThe Invaders is the second installment of the Brotherband Chronicles written by John Flanagan. Check an introduction to this series by Kyle H.

“Oh, it’s going to be such and interesting voyage,” – An excerpt from The Invaders by John Flanagan.

Eight boys and an older warrior have set out to sea and their journey has just begun in the book The Invaders. After failing to fulfill the mission of protecting the Skandians’ sacred artifact, the boys try to redeem themselves by tracking down the thief and recovering the treasure with the help of and a rather reclusive warrior. With Hal as the skirl (captain) of their wolfship, they set out on their voyage. Each boy faces his problems as they travel farther and farther from the home they knew best. The warrior, Thorn, an old friend of Hal, becomes their trainer and helps they develop new skills and abilities. They encounter a female hunter who leads them to a town taken over by the very pirates they were seeking. This starts the biggest challenge they had yet retaking a town full of hardened sea pirates with band of farmers, themselves, and a few others.

The Invaders has an amazing cast of characters that weave together a tale of adventure, danger, and teenage mischief. This is a perfect fit for those who like sea adventure coupled with teenage characters. This book deals a lot with working together as a team and following a trustworthy leader. It does go over rougher times they face together. The characters learn more about their warrior friend and each other, making their relationship grow deeper and stronger.

This is only what I think– read for yourself and decide.

-Sarah J., 9th grade

Series Introduction: The Brotherband Chronicles, by John Flanagan

brotherband_chroniclesIn The Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan, a young band of outcasts come together to compete in contests of strength, speed, and skill as groups and individuals. It is a great honor to win out of three teams that compete. Those who pass become warriors of the wolfships.

The Sharks, the Wolves, and the Herons will face off in the most exhilarating competition in all of Skandia. Boys will become men, and from men they will become warriors. The young boy Hal will use his brain to help the team as well Stig with his order issuing, Ingvar with his strength, Jesper with his speed, Ulf and Wulf with their ship skills, Edvin with his survival instincts, and Stephan with his impersonations. This team would be unstoppable. But the two other teams are stronger, faster, and mean. It will take their combined effort to ensure that the Herons come out on top. If they work together, they will not fail.

Later, the Heron’s task is to guard the Andomal, Skandia’s most prized treasure. They failed. But in earnest, they take after the pirates that stole it. With the help of an old sea warrior named Thorn, the team must get the Andomal back, and with it, their dignity in Skandia.

If you have read the Brotherband books, what did you think? Post a comment about how amazing the books are and also your favorite character in the stories to show other readers the characters’ personalities.

-Kyle H., 7th grade


Book Review: Sorcerer of the North, by John Flanagan

sorcerer_north_coverDark and cloaked, a lone figure lurks through the trees. A bow in his hands and a quiver on his back, he trudged through the marsh. A hunting eagle swoops down onto him, but the cloaked man ducks, pulls out his duel knives and fights off the bird. Then he drops his knives and pulls an arrow from his quiver. He draws his bow and fires his arrow. The bird falls from the sky and sinks into the mud before the man. This man is a Ranger.

Rangers are the most mysterious and independent people of all the land. They have the best shot with a bow and arrow, great speed, camouflage, and can block a sword blow with two small knives. These Rangers protect each kingdom from the invading Skandians and Temujai. In this book, the fifth volume in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, Will, an apprentice Ranger, goes on a quest to save a kingdom when their leader is struck with a mysterious illness.

Will goes undercover as a jongleur, who plays music at a local tavern, to find out what happened to the leader and who is behind it. Is it sorcery or could it be one of Will’s own Ranger friends?

Post a comment about what you think will happen! I really like this book so far, so I think you should read it if you are into books with a mix of medieval times, and fictional story lines and characters!

-Kyle H., 7th grade