As I pointed out after reading book four, the first four books read as a prologue and a trilogy. Now the story picks up at a totally new place in time...moreAs I pointed out after reading book four, the first four books read as a prologue and a trilogy. Now the story picks up at a totally new place in time, five years into the future. Will is a fully qualified Ranger now, with his own area to look after - and his own missions to get caught in. However, when a seemingly regular mission takes a turn for the worse, Will has to make some hard decisions.
I like grown-up Will quite a lot, but I'm glad he has kept some of his more child-like qualities. His exasperation about not being able to play music as well as he would like, his attraction to different girls, his relationship with his horse Tug and now Dog, his . . . dog, are all things that make his an attractive character to children.
After I finished book 4, I complained about a lack of women and called for a return of the diplomatic service. This book readily filled that need for me with the return of Alyss, Will's friend, fellow ward and first love interest. She continues to be a fascinating character, both to Will and the reader.
This book does end of a cliff hanger, which may be exasperating to some readers, but it's a surefire way to keep kids reading onto the next book in a series :)(less)
In a way, this book reads as the conclusion of a trilogy. I could easily see book one as a prequel, with books 2 and 3 setting up the story for a grea...moreIn a way, this book reads as the conclusion of a trilogy. I could easily see book one as a prequel, with books 2 and 3 setting up the story for a great conclusion here. And it really is a great conclusion.
This book is primarily set in Skandia, and just as we think all might be alright, with Halt and Horace finally catching up with Will and Evanlyn, they're plunged into more danger as a new group of warriors - more overwhelming than ever seen before - threaten the Skandians and nations beyond.
I often say that a great author or story can make you care about something you've never really cared about before. Flanagan does this throughout the book, particularly with archery. He also makes the war planning interesting and at times hilarious.
I recognize that these are children's books - they have great child characters doing exciting things; they have a focus on animals that a lot of children like; the nations they visit and talk about are portrayed in a somewhat stereotypical manner. But for adult readers, there's wonderful adult characters, particularly Halt.
My one complaint would be the lack of female characters - Evanlyn is it for this book. In discussions with one of my students today, he wondered whether this had to do with the war nature of the book, considering when it was set. I agreed, but also mentioned that I would have loved to see an appearance of Lady Pauline of the diplomatic service. A very interesting conversation :)
All in all, I highly recommend this book and would suggest that the series would be perfect for male and female readers from 9 up (less)
My students were shocked when they realized I hadn't read this book. Sincerely, so was I, especially since it was one of the biggest successes of my c...moreMy students were shocked when they realized I hadn't read this book. Sincerely, so was I, especially since it was one of the biggest successes of my classroom last year. But finally, spurred on by the fact I'm taking a group of kids to meet the author soon, I picked it up . . .
Quick disclaimer. I'm not a mad fantasy reader. I love Harry Potter, have read the Hobbit and enjoyed a few other fantasy books, but usually my tastes lie elsewhere.
But I loved this! It was such a strong world, filled with a society that I would honestly love to live in. I absolutely love Will, who isn't right all the time, who is small but brave. But more than him, I adore Halt and the other adults who fill the world.
This is a middle grade book, rather than a young adults book - think 9-13 year olds. I highly recommend it to young boy readers, but girls will enjoy them too. If you're a year 4 to 7 teacher, try to get them into your classroom asap :)(less)
This was a truly lovely book, one which I think my students will really enjoy.
It opens in Afghanistan with Fadi, a 12 year old. Fadi's father has, thr...moreThis was a truly lovely book, one which I think my students will really enjoy.
It opens in Afghanistan with Fadi, a 12 year old. Fadi's father has, through a series of events, become an enemy of the Taliban and Fadi, his parents, his older sister and younger sister must flee. Luckily, Fadi's father studied in the USA, and they have friends and family there (differentiating this book from other Afghanistan stories like Boy Overboard, Mahtab's Story or Parvana). The only problem is actually leaving Afghanistan so they can access the assistance they need. Unfortunately, while trying to board the truck which will take them out of the country, Fadi's little sister is lost among the crush of people and the approaching Taliban.
The rest of the story deals with Fadi, his parents and older sister trying to make a life in the USA, while still trying to find his younger sister. All the while, you realize that it's August/September 2001, and things are about to change.
I'd link this book with the already mentioned books, along with Does My Head Look Big in This? (less)
One of the things I loved about this book was how easy it was to describe - "a Children's librarian borrows a child".
Of course that wasn't all it was,...moreOne of the things I loved about this book was how easy it was to describe - "a Children's librarian borrows a child".
Of course that wasn't all it was, and there's much more in the book. Like the occasional chapter that mimics a classic children's book. And the zany company of actors. And the strange but almost delightful family.
It's not a perfect book, but it's a highly enjoyable one. And one that has me thinking still, long after I'm finished with it(less)