The Ruins of Gorlan


The Rangers, with their shadowy ways, have always made him nervous.  And now fifteen-year-old Will has been chosen as a Ranger’s apprentice.  But what he doesn’t yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom who will fight the battles before the battles reach the people.  And there is a large battle brewing.  The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom.  This time he will not be denied…

 

This book is the first of the Ranger’s Apprentice Series by John Flanagan.  It was recommended to me by a teacher within the school who felt that it would make a great addition to our newly expanding YA boy fiction.  I originally felt that these book were geared for middle-school youth and I was a little worried that the books would be too juvenile for many of the boys here at the Senior School.

I’m so glad I ordered them anyways.

Yes, the books are easy to read… but they kick butt!  I really enjoyed becoming immersed in Will’s world.  The book begins with Will and his small group of Warders within the Baron’s household (ie. orphans) preparing for the Choosing Day when they are apprenticed out to different crafts within the Baron’s household.  More than anything, Will wants to go to Battleschool where he dreams of becoming a knight in honour of a father he knows nothing about.  But as Will will find out, his small stature is much more suited to the craft of spying and blending in than the craft of muscle and sword.

Throughout the book, Flanagan gives you a glimpse of Will’s internal struggle to make a new dream of a life as a Ranger coincide with his feelings of betrayal to his father by not becoming a knight.  As Will becomes more inundated within the Ranger world, this eases off.  In fact, Will pretty much forgets about the fact that he didn’t make Battleschool until the very end (which you will have to read in order to learn more of).  I felt that Flanagan did an excellent job with Will’s character development, mimicking the internal struggles that many teens face trying to make reality fit with their idea of what the world should be.

But the most important thing that Flanagan did with this book, is that he made it readable by tween/teen boys (and girls!) as well as adults. Filling the book with action to balance out the more “I’m such a tool” parts that are inevitably a part of every YA fiction, makes the book engaging for young readers.  They are going to understand Will, and they will be drawn in by the action loving Rangers.  Who doesn’t want to be part of a “secret” (for the most part they are secret as people don’t really know much about them), elite group that can hit an eyeball with a throwing knife from “a few meters” away with his eyes closed??!

Halt was clear of the hiding place now, the small knife sliding free of the sheath almost of its own volition as he ran across the courtyard, dodging and weaving among the scattered rubble.  The Kalkara heard him before he had gone half a dozen paces and it turned back on him, terrifying in its silence as it loped, apelike, to cut him off before he could warn his friends.

Halt stopped suddenly, stock-still, eyes locked on the shambling figure coming at him.

In another few meters, its hypnotic gaze would seize control of his mind.  He felt the irresistible urge to look into those red eyes growing stronger.  Then he closed his own eyes, his brow furrowed in fierce concentration, and brought his knife hand up, back and forward in one smooth, instinctive memory throw, seeing the target moving in his mind’s eye, mentally aligning the throw and the spin of the knife to the point in space where knife and targe would arrive  simultaneously.

Only a Ranger could have made that throw- and only one of a handful of them.  It took the Kalkara in its right eye and the beast screamed in pain and fury as it stopped to clutch at the sudden lance of agony that began it is eye and seared all the way to the pain sensors in its brain.  Then Halt was running past it for the wall, scrambling up the rocks.

 

Other Important But Boring Info!

Reading Time: I read it in about 2 hours, but I would say that the guys should be able to read this in 4 – 6 hours of interrupted reading.

Re-Readability: 4/5

Rating: 4.5/5

Price: Chapters – $9.00/ Kobo – $3.99/ Amazon – $7.99 USD/ Kindle – $3.99 USD

I would check out the Ranger’s Apprentice site.  Some awesome resources for teachers (including class curriculum and study guide), with other resources for youth.  Very interactive site that would be great as an addition to the book during classroom discussions.

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