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

Book Review: First Test, By Tamora Pierce

firsttest_coverGirls trying to be knights are not a new idea but, in the book, First Test, Tamora Pierce brings a whole new twist to it. The book is about the first year of Keladry of Mindelan’s page years as she works to become accepted for deciding to become the 2nd female knight in the medieval and fantastic realm,Tortall.

First Test is the first book of the Protector of the Small Quartet by Tamora Pierce. This series is only one of the many series that she has written.

The First Test is about Keladry of Mindelan, who is known as Kel, first year as a page. Kel tries to prove to pages’ training master, Lord Wyldon that she can do just as well as the other boys in training. Many people are against girls becoming knights and so she receives much pressure. On top of that she has to deal with the fact that she was raised in another part of the realm and has to adjust to the completely different Tortall culture. Her friend Nealan “Neal” of Queenscove helps her along the way.

First Test is a well written book. There is plenty of adventure and action in the story. The characters are well-developed and are believable. Kel, the main character, is not someone who seems unbelievably lucky or powerful. She in her own way does have fault and fears. This makes her connect more with the reader. This is the same with most of the characters. The author also incorporates things from other real life cultures and traditions.  Most authors who write in a medieval times setting usually take their ideas from Europe. Pierce actually incorporated some of the parts of the African culture and the Japanese culture into her story. This makes the story more interesting since there are more perspectives to see the story.

Overall this book is great for anyone who wants to have a strong girl protagonist as the main character. This has action and adventure as well. It might seem like a school story at first due to the very school like atmosphere of the page training but there is a whole lot more to it. The complete series itself, I would only recommend to older readers because it does deal with the maturing of girls, the changes they go through, and love. This is because of the growing age of the main character. This book is a good read for anyone, but there series is better for older readers. This is only my opinion. So read it for yourself and decide.

– Sarah J., 8th Grade