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The Ruins of Gorlan

John Flanagan's first fantasy/action book in his Ranger's Apprentice series begins the story of Will, a castle ward - which is an orphan taken in by the Baron, given food, shelter, and the opportunity to better their station in life on Choosing Day. Choosing Day is the event that happens in every castle ward’s life where they get the opportunity to make their wishes for their future careers known and hopefully be selected by the Craftmaster of their liking (for example, the Battleschool Craftmaster is an army recruiter of sorts, there’s a Diplomat field, Horsemaster, and many others).

Will, having grown up with no information known of his parents (and no last name), knows only that his father was a brave warrior who died in battle. Because of this, he wishes with all his heart to be accepted in the Battleschool.

But when Choosing Day is over, he’s been rejected by the Battleschool because of his small size and strangely offered a spot by the Rangers, who have always been considered odd and suspicious to the villagers with their nerve-wracking ways of appearing, seemingly, out of thin air.

Soon, though, Will realizes there is more to the Rangers than the ordinary inhabitant of the kingdom understands – and in the battle that is brewing for the near future, his newfound training may just make his father proud yet.

As a first in a series, this novel is excellent at introducing us to cast of characters that are interesting and easy to invest in. We follow more than just Will in his first months of apprenticeship. It is entertaining reading to tag along with Will in his training with the mysterious, likable (if grumpy) Halt. There is good character development offered up here by John Flanagan and a great amount of action, not to mention creative and original supernatural creatures that threaten the safety of the kingdom.

Was I jumping up and down as I read The Ruins of Gorlan? No. But it was a fast paced, appealing read that left me very intrigued about the next novel, The Burning Bridge. Will, Horace, Halt and the other castle ward’s make for engaging characters and I have a feeling the following novels might give way more easily to increased action and maybe even romantic subplots. I believe Ranger’s Apprentice is a book that would be as enjoyed by males as females.

I felt it was strong opening to a possibly even better series, but as I said – I’m not shouting about it.


Canada said…
The Rangers Apprentice is a fiction book that catches the readers attention onm the first page. A major conflict in The Rangers Apprentice is when the main character, Will, first goes to Choosing Day. That is a day when a child is chosen for the job he will remain in and work at for the rest of his or her life. Will always had the desire to go to Battle School to train to become a knight. Unfortunately, he believes, Will ends up being chosen to be a Ranger. Will must get used to being chosen for a position he didn't want to be in the first place. But in the end Will destroys a massive beast called a Kalkara and when he goes back to his school he is honored by his classmates and superiors. They offer him a position in Battle School, but Will rejects it as he comes to realize he has been enjoying his placement as a Ranger.
I think that Will is like Zech MacIvey from A Land Remembered. Will can do many things he did not know he could do, just like Zech. Zech took down a large bear when he was 5 or 6 years old with a double barrel shotgun. Will, as I said, took down a large beast called a Kalkara with a thick layer of fur held together by wax so it is technically is covered in scales. Will shot it with a flaming - arrow when he found out the wax on their bodies are flammable.
If I were a famous author I would make the jacket blurb something like:
Fifteen year old Will has been chosen to be a Ranger at his Choosing Day. He is now being taught the way of the Ranger by a very mysterious man named Halt. Will goes on many adventures with his master and learns a lot from the mysterious teacher. By being a ranger, Will, will someday look after his own fief. A fief is a small piece of land that the Ranger has to guard. But first he has to prove himself to his master....

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