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Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan

Review

Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan

Will is an orphan raised in the household of Baron Arald. It is Choosing Day, when each ward is apprenticed to a Craftmaster to learn a trade. Will wants to be accepted in Battleschool where the fief's knights are trained. Instead, he is chosen to become a Ranger's apprentice. Will is deeply disappointed, and a little scared. Rangers are shadowy characters, believed to practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. His master, Halt, is cranky and makes Will do all the housework.

What Will doesn't know is that Rangers are protectors of the kingdom. They are highly trained spies and agile fighters who warn the country of coming danger. With the exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, gathering his forces for an attack, Will's growing skills will be tested, immersing him in unexpected adventures.

Many elements of THE RUINS OF GORLAN are typical fantasy fare. Readers know before they open the book that they will encounter a feudal world threatened by an evil warlord. There is a typical cast of fantasy characters, with the threat of malign magical creatures. The plot centers on a battle between good and evil. It is possible that the reason why fantasy remains a popular genre is because there is a certain comfort in its repetitiveness.

This book shines most in its details. In elevating a ranger to a main character, the author allows for lots of adventure, but also a chance to explore an element that has been pursued less frequently within the fantasy genre. John Flanagan also has some interesting twists in the relationships between some of the characters. He fleshes out the relationship between Will and his fellow ward Horace, who begin the book as enemies, but end as friends. Flanagan also takes on the topic of bullying. He doesn't draw a parallel between the schoolyard battles and the greater forces that threaten the kingdom, but young readers are likely to identify with the experiences of the young characters.

THE RUINS OF GORLAN is not likely to convert non-fantasy readers to the genre, but it will be appreciated by those readers who already enjoy fantasy and are looking for a new world to explore. This is the first book in a larger series. It finishes a major story arc, but will leave readers waiting to find out what adventures Will and his friends will encounter next.

Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood on June 8, 2006

Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan
(Ranger's Apprentice #1)
by John Flanagan

  • Publication Date: June 8, 2006
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin
  • ISBN-10: 0142406635
  • ISBN-13: 9780142406632