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.