Ranger's Apprentice Review

If you like fantasy novels, try the Ranger's Apprentice series

by Sarah Rowen, a student at Rockport (Mass.) Middle School
Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan

Cover of the first installment of Ranger's Apprentice, The Ruins of Gorlan

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If you're a fan of fantasy and action books, you'll love the Ranger's Apprentice series by John Flanagan. In the series, Will becomes an apprentice to master Ranger Halt. Rangers are secretive warriors who use their intelligence, courage, ability to move around unseen, and skills with bows and knives to protect the kingdom of Araluen. After training under Halt, young Will is off on a series of adventures to save Araluen from the evil Lord Morgarath.

The Ruins of Gorlan

Readers meet the main characters and learn about their skills and personalities in the first book of the series, The Ruins of Gorlan. Will, a ward at Redmont Castle, had hoped to become a knight, but his small size was not suited to that path. Instead, he learns that his stealth and intelligence would serve him well as a Ranger. He's placed as an apprentice to Halt—the ultimate teacher. Despite Halt's grumpiness and constant demands, Will admires his master and soon considers him a father figure.

Will and Halt team up with Halt's former apprentice, Gilan, to battle a group of beasts, the Kalkaras, dispatched by the evil Morgarath. Fifteen years ago, Morgarath, a former baron of Araluen, tried to overthrow the king of Araluen, but was defeated by Halt and sent into exile on Mountains of Rain and Night. Will's newly learned skills—and his ability to use them under pressure—are put to the test.

The Burning Bridge

In the second book of the series, The Burning Bridge, Morgarath has devised an intricate plan to attack Araluen from three fronts. In addition to his warriors, Morgarath has enlisted the Wargals, half-human, half-beasts, and the Skandians, burly mercenaries, to fight in the war.

When Will and Horace travel to neighboring Celtica to deliver a message about the looming war, they find the area has been abandoned. Morgarath has enslaved the Celts and is using them to build a bridge that will allow his army to descend from the mountains and take Araluen by surprise. Along the way, Will and Horace find a terrified girl named Evanlyn hiding in bushes. The Wargals attacked her party, and she was the sole survivor. Will and Evanlyn successfully burn the bridge, but are captured by the Skandians, who are led by Erak.

Meanwhile, King Duncan's war planners are developing a scheme to trick and hopefully defeat Morgarath once and for all. One wrong move or mishap could lead to the downfall of Araluen.

The Icebound Land

The third book in the series, The Icebound Land, finds a terrified Will and Evanlyn on an icy journey aboard the Skandian ship, Wolfwind. Captives to Erak, they are making their way to Skandia, where they are destined to be slaves for the rest of their lives. Once they reach the frigid country, Will becomes a slave to Borsa and must endure brutal work and bone-chilling temperatures. Evanlyn doesn't have it quite so bad, as she's put to work in the kitchen. Will becomes a shell of his former self after falling victim to the addictive warmweed, and Evanlyn realizes his only hope for survival is to escape.

Meanwhile, Halt, guilt-ridden over Will's capture, is determined to rescue his apprentice. But he's been given a new mission and is forbidden from leaving Araluen. Halt's only option to save Will is to force King Duncan to banish him from Araluen. On his way to Skandia, Halt runs into Horace, and the pair makes the journey together. Horace gains a reputation as a fierce fighter as he defeats greedy freelance knights along the way.

A Series Full of Action and Excitement

I enjoyed this series because it's filled with action and excitement. The author included so many vivid details that I felt as if I was at the front line of the battles. Each of the characters seemed human and realistic. For example, even the heroes had flaws. In addition, each of the books ended with a cliffhanger, making me eager to read the next in the series. I highly recommend the Ranger's Apprentice series to any fan of fast-paced fantasy and action books.

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