They have always scared him in the past — the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice. What he doesn't yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, 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....
John Flanagan grew up in Sydney, Australia, hoping to be a writer. It wasn't until he wrote a highly uncomplimentary poem about a senior executive at the agency where he worked, however, that his talent was revealed. It turned out one of the company directors agreed with John's assessment of the executive, and happily agreed to train John in copywriting.
After writing advertising copy for the next two decades, John teamed with an old friend to develop a television sitcom, Hey Dad!, which went on to air for eight years.
John began writing Ranger's Apprentice for his son, Michael, ten years ago, and is still hard at work on the series.
He currently lives in a suburb of Manly, Australia, with his wife. In addition to their son, they have two grown daughters and four grandsons.
It’s been a while since I read a classic sword and sorcery fantasy novel, but I enjoyed this one a lot. In fact, it had no sorcery at all, which was kind of refreshing. It was a believable, well-grounded alternate medieval earth. In Flanagan’s world, young wards of the state have to choose professions, and Will is reluctantly recruited to become a ranger. The relationship between Will and his Battleschool rival is particularly well portrayed, and Will’s training as a ranger makes for great reading. The novel was a bit long on the explanations for my taste -- a lot of telling about the characters especially at the beginning when showing would have sufficed -- but that did not stop me from enjoying the book. On a purely technical note, this was one of the few books I’ve read that uses third-person omniscient point-of-view and actually pulls it off. We know what most of the characters are thinking all the time, and yet it doesn’t get confusing. I will definitely look for the rest of this series.
"No! Ashley! Put the book away!" "But Mooooom! I'm at the part where he kills-" "I don't care! It's two in the morning! Go to sleep!" She snatched the book one of Rangers Apprentice, The Ruins of Gorlan right out of my hands. She told me goodnight and slammed the door behind her. Snap. That's the third time this week she took it from me. I was at the good part too! Well, it's all good. The action, the adventure, the surprises. My favorite part, especially, when the boys got in a fight. Will and Horace. Brilliant! Will is a fifteen year old boy with no parents. He lives in the Ward with his friends: Alyss, Jennifer, George and Horace. Sadly, when you live in the Ward you are orphans and you basically take care of yourself. But Will's past is a mystery. He was found in a basket with a note saying only that his mother died giving birth and his father was a Hero. In this land, when you think or the word "Hero" you think of a knight and the only way to become a knight is battle school. Sadly, Will does not make it to battle school so he believes his life will be one of a farmer. Until, a Ranger comes and hold the key to his destiny in a piece of paper. Will finds the paper and sees that he is to become the one thing people happen to fear. A Ranger. Oh man, just thinking about the beginning made me excited! Remembering the dangers Will has to face like Wargals and Kalkaras who do nothing but the bidding of Moragrath, the bad guy. Then the suspense of wondering if a life is taken or if will can save Halt. The best part of it all though; you never know exactly what's going to happen next. It's full of action, adventure, and soon to be revealed mysteries. Yeah, if it sounds like your kind of fantasy book then read it! But, be sure you don't read it till two in the morning or your mom will take it away and, trust me, you won't want to put it down once you pick it up!
3.5 stars. Yippee…Hooray.....EXCELSIOR…. I found a quality YA fantasy story that I really liked. Before reading this, I had been in a bit of a slump with this sub-genre and had been considering a permanent separation. Thank goodness my literary guidance counselor asked me to give it one more try and recommended this book. I am very happy I stuck with it. I really liked this story and was surprised with how quickly and effortlessly, I go sucked into the narrative.
Now, granted, this book is incredibly “derivative” of all of the fantasy that has come before it and there is nothing here that I could point to and say, “ah, now that is a very unique concept.” In fact, before reading this story, I thought that this lack of newness might have been my problem with the whole sub-genre. I was wrong. Turns out I was just looking for a well-told story with an engaging cast of characters.
I found them both here. I really liked the tone of the narrative and the pace was absolutely perfect. It never felt rushed and yet moved along without a dull moment despite having to introduce the world of the series to the reader (something that often hampers pacing in a “first” book). I also genuinely liked the characters from Will and Horace and the Ranger Halt and the Baron, Sir Rodney. Finally, I found the fantasy elements to be well-done if standard.
This book proved to me that I wasn’t necessarily burned out on YA fantasy books but that I just wasn’t enjoying the one’s I was reading. While I don’t think I will immediately read the next book in the series, I will certainly buy it and keep it on the short-list for the next time I reach for this kind of story.
I hearty well done and thank you to the author John Flanagan. You have restored my faith in an entire genre.
P.S. I listened to the audio of this book read by John Keating and he did an absolutely PERFECT job. His tone and voice added a significant about of enjoyment to the story. I highly recommend it for fans of audio books.
Books like this I call 'classic'. Simple but interesting plot set in a new but recognizable world. Noble knights fighting dark evil lord. And a boy/main character is growing, maturing and learning important life lessons. A good read if you're tired of violent and/or long novels. Although I liked it a bit, I won't be reading the series any further mainly cos it already has more than a dozen books...
This book was a pleasant surprise for me; I really had no expectations going in and I didn't read anyone's reviews beforehand so I ended up being completely blindsided by this awesome story, which is definitely a good thing! I'll admit I wasn't expecting much, I figured I'd get a good time-waster and a fun story, but I never thought I'd be moved to tears by the honor, loyalty, and friendships forged within.
This is the story of Will, an orphan raised with fellow wardmates, and it tells the tale of his growth into a young man and Ranger, who are the eyes and ears for the fiefdom. At a certain age the castle wards each must choose a Craftmaster to study under, such as the castle's chef, Horsemaster, or Battlemaster. Young Will is a bit scrawny but he has always dreamt of becoming a mighty knight, because although he never knew his father he believes he died the heroic death of a brave knight. Unfortunately, the Baron has other plans for Will, and even though he's crestfallen at not being able to enter Battleschool, he has a much more important fate awaiting him: the Rangers.
Will is a great character - not too smart, not too cocky, not too bratty - but full of heart. In the beginning we get to meet him when he's still living with his friends before they've all chosen their crafts and it's shown that the kids don't always get along. There's a particular boy, Horace, who bullies Will relentlessly. Will isn't exactly an angel though as he ends up mouthing off to Horace and riling him up constantly. These two are at each other's throats for the majority of the book and it's fascinating watching their relationship change and mature. Two of the scenes with these boys were the ones that made me tear up. I don't know why it got to me, but their camaraderie really turned into something special in the end.
I also really enjoyed Will's budding master-apprentice relationship with the Ranger, Halt. Halt is a prickly character who (almost) never smiles. He's brutal on Will but he does so because he sees his potential. The last scene with these two at the end was another one that filled me with emotion because I couldn't help but feel proud for the two of them myself.
Will's point of view is the main one throughout most of the book, but we do get glimpses of what's going on in other characters' heads, and up until the halfway point almost each chapter switches back and forth between Will and Horace, though that didn't bother me at all. I really enjoyed the fact that even the horses, as well as some of the monsters, had thoughts that we were privy to, and I think this added some depth to the tale without being overwhelming or difficult to follow.
There are some really great themes throughout this story that I think are great for kids to read about. There's the aforementioned bullying and teasing that eventually gets resolved, there's emphasis on hard work and discipline, and there's the stress placed on following your gut and doing what's right. There are also monsters, archery, sword fighting, learning to sneak around unseen like an assassin, and all sorts of fun stuff that boys (and some girls) enjoy reading about. I think this would be a great book for reluctant readers since it's action-packed, suspenseful, and heartwarming as well. It's the type of book you can't put down because you need to know what happens next.
I really loved this book and I had no idea the wonderful story that it contained. This is a middle grade epic fantasy that I think people of all ages can enjoy, and I highly recommend you give it a shot.
I kept picking up mentions of these books here and there, so finally got a copy from my library. Also, I have a soft spot for Rangers. Blame Professor T.
It was a bit cruel to this book to read it in the middle of a reread of Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief series, because the contrasts in quality rather jumped out at one. I was inclined to spot it a few points because it was its author's first book, till I reflected that so was The Thief. On the other hand, while Turner's book is classified YA, this one is clearly labeled "Children's Fiction" by the Hennepin County Library, so I think it is aimed at (and probably hits) a younger target audience, the "chapter book" crowd in librarian parlance.
The start of a coming-of-age adventure series, The Ruins of Gorlan chronicles the initial education of Will, a young orphan raised as a ward of his baron in a sort of generic alternate-England-like scene similar to the one so well described by Diana Wynne Jones in her The Tough Guide to Fantasyland. Will, in a scene that reminded me of the opening to Pratchett's classic Mort, is chosen, last and least, to be apprenticed by an unexpected patron, the grim Ranger Halt.
Despite a depth of worldbuilding similar to an RPG game, a tin ear for language and history that includes kilometers and potatoes in this medievaloid setting (well, all right, I probably have to allow him the potatoes, since Tolkien gets away with them), and horses that run like cars, the author manages to endow his collection of stereotypes with increasing charm as the book runs its short course. The pacing and the action scenes are good.
It is all very blokey, as if the last half of the 20th century never happened, which, it might be argued, in this world it hasn't. There are a couple of girl characters among the set of five wards we meet at the beginning, but they drop out (along with the scholarly boy) till the end, when they bring pies and a first kiss as rewards for the two action-boy heroes the story does follow. I don't know if their tales are picked up later in the series. If it is the case, as mentioned on the back flap (but occluded by a library tag), that the author wrote it first for his son, much is explained and might charitably be forgiven. But I did get flashbacks to my older brother's Boys' Life magazines, which I used to snitch and read back in the late 50s.
Nevertheless, one must wonder how such a society manages to reproduce with so few women. Perhaps they practice polyandry.
(Later, I ran a quick check to see if, given the gender imbalance, there was Ranger's Apprentice slash. Well, of course there is. There is slash for Edwin Abbott's Flatland, too. I leave you to contemplate this.)
Also, just a tip -- never, ever, ever contract to become the mother of a hero. You will have a remarkably short lifespan even by medievaloid standards. In the extremely unlikely event that you do survive childbirth, you will certainly be taken out before your heroic offspring hits puberty. Just sayin'.
Not recommended for jaded fantasy readers defensive about their intellectual status, Gorlan is doubtless just fine for chapter-book readers first venturing into the world of books without pictures, likely to keep them coming back for more, which is just what we want. I would have eaten it up in 5th grade myself, despite not being a boy (and only in part because I was oblivious to such gender-political concerns back then.)
I might well read some more of these, if only to see how the writer develops with practice. And also to find out if the girls' lives ever get any air time -- the author does have daughters as well, I see.
I wrote this review quite some time ago but I had to come back and improve it a little after reading several other books of this wonderful series. I am officially a big fan!
I read many positive reviews before picking up this book and I was afraid that I might be too old for actually enjoying this. I was WRONG! This book was such a pleasant surprise and definitely deserves all the positive reviews.
I didn't find the beginning of this story very original but my opinion changed very quickly as the story developed. This book begins the story of Will, an orphaned boy with his own dreams and insecurities who struggles with who he is and who he wants to be. The entire series is a tale of his growth into a young confidant man, finding his right place in the world.
I have to say that the author does a brilliant job with his young characters' gradual growth. Many characters are slowly added to the story as the series progresses and it's quite wonderful to see them all change and help each other grow, from young ones to grownup adults. There are many memorable characters that I have come to really like!
Back to the story of this book, the most pleasant surprise for me was when the book switched from Will's point of view to Horace's. I did not expect that at all! The story immediately became very different and unique and showed great potential for improvement. It was quite wonderful to read about such realistic characters in a well-thought fantasy world. Thanks to the POVs, we get to see that Will, while a very lovely and pleasant boy, isn't really an angel. He too can be mean or selfish. We also find out that the boy he doesn't like is not the devil himself. Life isn't exactly black and white and it moved me that this book managed to show that with such a simple but fascinating story. It's nice that we also get to know what's in other characters' heads which definitely makes the story much more pleasant and easier to follow. I did not find the story rushed and characters grow the way they should. The main characters are children after all and it's nice that they stay as one while growing considerably and they don't end up taking missions to save the world single-handedly. I am always annoyed when that happens and there isn't a single adult in the big picture!
What I loved the most while reading this book was the relationship between Will and Horace AND how it gradually changed and matured, becoming something very special at the end.
The Master-Apprentice relationship between Will and Halt is also very adorable and I have come to really like this gloomy ranger who never smiles!XD
The ending scene was perfect for this story. I find it very beautiful when young individuals come to see the truth of their existence and choose it over their childish dreams or who they think they should be to find any acceptance or approval. I recommend this book to those who are looking for a fun and light fantasy book with beautiful concepts such as true friendship and honor hidden in the pages of it.
As I've almost reached eighteen years of age I've tended to drift away from reading YA fiction. I read mostly classics or more adult fiction nowadays. And yet there are some series which are capable of bridging age gaps despite having been written for a younger audience. I believe the best stories can cover all age brackets making them accessible to a wide audience. This novel is one of those books in my opinion. Or at least the development of the series is.
I could spend time reviewing the entire series but I'll stick to reviewing the first novel from the perspective of the series. The Ruins of Gorlan is a good novel but it does draw very strongly on other fantasy novels such as Lord of the Rings in the creation of its Warguls and Morgarath. Yet what is most impressive about the series is that it develops from then on. From the third book onwards the series branches out into a world of its own that draws upon our history to establish its own thrilling tales.
The world of the Ranger's Apprentice books becomes not dissimilar from a middle-ages version of our own. There is an England replacement, a Japan replacement, a French replacement, a land of viking like people and a whole load more of exotic races and lands. There is no magic really in the series strictly. Although I must state that Morgarath uses a sort of psychic link with his Wargul forces to control them. The lack of magic makes for a refreshingly different fantasy read.
I enjoy the world John Flanagan has created but what really keeps me buying the books is the characters he's created. Each individual has his or her own personality. The women are not weak or mindless characters either which is a refreshing change. But back on that you have: Will who is basically more of a trickster and uses lots of words; Horace who's a laconic kind of character and tends to be a methodical thinker; Alys the quick thinking and astute woman; Halt the grizzled old ranger who is perhaps my favourite character with his wry wit and grimmer attitude; and a whole ton of characters I can't describe without ruining the story. I'd read these books for the characters and their interactions alone because they are stellar.
These are books I believe adults and youth can read. My mum's a fan of them and I've been a fan ever since I picked up the first novel in grade eight. I would have been about thirteen...
So if you haven't read this series begin because even though there is ten or so books each can easily be read in a day. Actually each can easily be read in a day because they are simply so engrossing.
14th June 2012 Note: I have to feel a sense of glee over the fact that I got my sister, who reads very few series in a row - in fact she rarely reads many series or many books - hooked on this series. She's reading her fifth one right now and she's been racing through them. The next stage of the plan will be to introduce her to Lord of the Rings hehehe and then maybe one day she'll read as much as I do and as much as my mother does.
The ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice #1), John Flanagan The Ruins of Gorlan is the first novel in the Ranger's Apprentice series written by Australian author John Flanagan. Flanagan first conceived the world of the novel in a series of short stories he wrote for his son to incite his interest in reading. Ten years later, he decided to turn them into The Ruins of Gorlan, the first book in the Ranger's Apprentice series. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: بیست و هفتم ماه دسامبر سال 2012 میلادی عنوان: ویرانه های گورلان - جنگاوران جوان کتاب اول؛ نویسنده: جان آنتونی فلانیگان (فلناگان)؛ مترجم: مسعود ملک یاری؛ تهران، افق، 1391؛ در 372 ص؛ مجموعه جنگاوران جوان کتاب 1؛ موضوع: رمان نوجوانان و داستانهای کودکان از نویسندگان انگلیسی قرن 21 م ویرانههای گورلان نام نخستین کتاب از سری داستانهای شاگرد رنجر یا همان جنگاوران جوان اثر: جان آنتونی فلنگن نویسنده استرالیایی است. چاپ نخست این کتاب در اول نوامبر سال 2004 میلادی در استرالیا منتشر شد. جنگاوران یا رنجرها با رفتارهای مرموزشان همیشه ویل را عصبانی کرده اند. از قضا، ویل پانزده ساله برای شاگردی رنجر پذیرفته میشود. او هنوز نمیداند که رنجرها نگهبانان واقعی سرزمینش هستند و تا رسیدن ارتش با دشمنان میجنگند. نبرد بزرگی در پیش است. مورگاراث فرمانروای کوهستان باران و ظلمت، نیروهایش را جمع کرده تا به سرزمین پادشاهی حمله کند. او عزم کرده که این بار از جنگ دست خالی برنگردد.... ا. شربیانی
I honestly expect to enjoy this book better. I already knew that this book is middle grade so I wasn't expecting something very complex but this wasn't my main issue. The writing felt very old and descriptive for such a short book, I was also bored more often than not reading it. The start was solid, unfortunately, as the story progressed, the less interested I became.
The Ruins of Gorlan ended up being underwhelming and pretty much straightforward. I expected this book to be more engaging but even for a novel of this style, I definitely hoped a better story to be delivered. This book would be more suitable to young unexperienced readers but if you’ve read a lot of fantasy books… this book falls short sadly. That being said, I’m glad I finally removed it from my tbr. I’ve been wanting to read it for years.
Will, a fifteen year old orphan, has been raised among other orphans his entire life. Will was found on a doorstep as a baby with nothing but a note with his first name and that his father was a hero. All of Will’s life he holds onto this fact and hopes one day to join the Battleschool in order to become a great warrior like his father.
On the day that all of the skilled masters choose their apprentices, Will applies for and is rejected by the Battleschool. But he passes a test he was unaware of, and becomes and apprentice to the local Ranger, Halt. Will goes to live with Halt and learns a myriad of new skills from archery to cooking to being stealthy. But soon, a threat faces the kingdom Will lives in and he must accompany Halt to fight a returned evil.
This is a fantastic book for tween boys. Will and the other characters spend the beginning of the book feeling like they do not belong where they are, a struggle for many young tweens. There is a lot of detail on fighting and weapons, all things that young Rangers and warriors would need to know and that young boys are interested in. S
ometimes, the time lapses were very strange, such as some events were written in great detail, just for the author to elapse time very quickly after. But the plot was good, the story of a young boy who faces his self doubts and becomes a strong and confident young man. It teaches the reader that if they work hard and tell the truth that good things will come to them and that they will have honor.
The character development of Will and Horace is one of the best parts of the book, Will finds his confidence, and Horace discovers the importance of perseverance and loyal friendship. The villain was not present for much of the book, but he is a strong one and obviously is the Voldemort equivalent of this series. This book is a strong start to a series, and it is clear that the following books in the series will only get better.
***Just a small note, this review is geared toward my tween advisory project, so it will written a bit differently than my normal reviews. If you are a friend and would like to see the tween advisory blog, please pm me. Thanks!***
On the surface, it’s just a fun, YA fantasy book about fifteen-year-old Will and a sort of coming-of-age tale with swords and bows and rangers in a medieval-esque world, and a much more straightforward, less-convoluted story.
And it is all of that.
But beneath the surface there are other things going on (at least to this reader) which I’ll get to later.
It’s very funny, in a dry, kind of sarcastic way, that sometimes you almost don’t catch — and then you do and it’s HILARIOUS and you’re not totally sure why. Will doesn’t always “get it” when Halt makes little jabs and jibes and wry comments but I love it. XD
I love Will! He’s such a fun little character and just… I don’t know… he’s classic, somehow. And I like how he’s very determined and doesn’t give up.
Halt is the absolute best!! One of my favorite mentor characters. He’s an amazing Ranger and I just… I can’t describe how cool he is, but he’s awesome. Hands-down the best thing about this book! (And the main reason I read it. ;))
And I love some of the other characters, like Gilan (he’s awesome!) and Tug the pony (SO ADORBZ!!) and Horace and so on. And the Rangers are fabulous.
Did I mention it’s funny? I love funny books!
And it’s just fun fantasy, and good old-fashioned Good vs. Evil. Speaking of which…
“There’s Some Good in This World, Mr. Frodo”
One thing I noticed that was refreshing was there are good people in this book and a lot of them are just… nice.
I mean, sure, there were villains. And a few bullies. And Horace and Will both had their moments of disagreement or resentment — it’s not like they weren’t human. And by nice I don’t mean everyone was always sunshine, but they were GOOD.
I remember as I was reading, I kept expecting that everyone would be nasty to everyone else. I expected the wards to have had a miserable time growing up; and the Baron to be mean; and Sir Roderick to be mean; and for the villagers to be mean. That’s how I feel like most books these days would do it. But you know what? Their lives weren’t actually terrible; the Baron was super nice and really did want the best for these kids; Sir Roderick may not have known about the bully problem but he did want the best for Horace; the villagers might have been wary of Rangers in general through ignorance, but they were goodnaturedly applauding certain exploits of the hero(es).
The thing is, I’ve grown used to the usual setup of many books these days, where the characters are so flawed and “realistic” that… they’re not actually realistic anymore. People say you can’t have “perfect” characters and that you have to give your characters flaws; that’s all well and good. But that doesn’t mean that every character (or person in real life) you run into is going to be a terrible person! That’s just… not true?? I mean, yes, there are bad people, both in life and in fiction, but that doesn’t mean every character has to be out to ruin our heroes’ lives… or be mean-spirited… or whatever. There can be the forces of good and they can be ordinary people like you and me, and they can be nice — and there will still be tension, I promise! (I first noticed this issue when I read the Bright Empires series by Stephen R. Lawhead and was so shocked — in a good way — by how there were actually *gasp* good people in the world, that it made me realize that most books are not this way.)
Anyway, minor rant over. I didn’t mean to go into all of that. My POINT is that it was SO, SO refreshing reading this book and every time I ran into one of the “good guys”, they were exactly that. The villains and bullies were the bad guys. But the good guys were GOOD. And they have their flaws and have to work on life just as you and I do, but the good was good and the evil was evil and I LOVE that. And I MISS that. And I was surprised how big of a difference this seemingly insignificant aspect of the book made in making me enjoy it. :) There was a clear divide between the good people and the bad, and it was refreshing, and something you can get away with in fantasy — or you used to, anyway.
Sometimes you want to focus on GOOD things instead of the things that are just stressful to read about. And I loved that I was able to just enjoy this book, for that reason and others. :)
There’s a Place For You, Just Waiting…
Another thing I absolutely loved was something a little hard to explain but I’ll do my best.
In the book, Will has always dreamed of going to the battle school to become a knight, but he’s turned down because he’s too small. Then he unexpectedly becomes Halt’s apprentice. (Not a spoiler! It’s called Ranger’s Apprentice; it’s in the title.)
And the thing is, it’s obvious to Halt, and to the reader, that Will is MEANT to be a Ranger. He’s small and light and quick and agile, and he has this habit of sneaking around without being noticed, and climbing trees and walls and living his own kind of solitary life, even in a community setting like the castle where he’s one of the wards.
A Ranger is supposed to be good at all of those things, and it’s immediately clear to me, as I read it, that Will Is A Ranger and that’s where he really fits.
But the funny thing is — he has no idea. At all. He has these skills, but he doesn’t really realize he has them, or think of them as skills, or realize he can put them to use as a Ranger’s Apprentice.
And I think that’s true of a lot of us. How many of us have things we could do, callings we could follow, jobs we could fill, that we’d fit into just perfectly, and we just… don’t realize it? Don’t think there’s anything special about us? Think we’re misfits and don’t belong?
As we watch Will trying out this new, unexpected turn of his life, and see him find his place in the world — really find it — it was just deeply satisfying to me.
And it made me think — oh. Sometimes, as a writer and whatever else it is I’ll be one day, if I’m feeling like I don’t know what skills I have or what to do with my life, or like I don’t fit in and there’s no place for me… I’m wrong. Because you know what? There IS. I have to find my “Ranger skills” and my “Rangers” and then I’ll be home and have found my place.
Especially if I work hard on it…
Keep Trying and You’ll Get There
Because the third and final “deep” thing I pulled out of this, was the fact that when we watch Will learning his Ranger’s craft, it just… well… inspired me. I might be rubbish at learning the things he had to learn — how to shoot arrows and ride a horse and how to track and be stealthy and unseen and live in the wilderness — but watching him learn them, and seeing him just keep at it and become adept at these things… it inspired me.
Because he just kept trying and he was able to do it. I saw him go from an uncertain lad who was rather timid and didn’t know what his skills were, to a confident lad who has conquered these skills and is every inch a true Ranger’s Apprentice. I saw it happen, and it showed me that it’s not impossible to learn and become better at something, to master it. Especially if you have a good mentor and just don’t quit.
If I’d been in Will’s shoes (boots?), I would have stared at what needed to be learned/accomplished, and been crippled by doubts and “I-can’t-do-its”. But Will didn’t. And Halt wouldn’t stand for that anyway. (I’d be a terrible Ranger’s apprentice. XD)
BUT. If you just start something, and tackle it, and hang on and keep trying… then we too can learn and conquer the things we need to learn and do. Which is something I know in theory… but seeing it play out on the page, in this little story of characters I love, with fun and humor and an enjoyable fantasy story, I saw it, and I believed it, and so now I Know it, instead of just knowing it in theory.
That may sound odd. I mean, what do I mean by saying this “unrealistic” book, this Fantasy (oh, escapism; oh, horror. …’Scuse the Halt-ish sarcasm.) taught me things? I mean, who am I, finding things in a fantasy novel which teach me things about life? Shouldn’t I just find these things in some self-help blog?
But the thing is . . . it took a story — a real story, which I enjoyed and which was just for fun, not one that set out to do this (because I suspect then it would not have sunk in nearly as deeply, if at all) — to prod at my subconscious and bring out things that I kind of knew or suspected but hadn’t ever thought of in that way before. It inspired me and let me put it into words.
To know that you have skills and a place in the world, that you have YOUR Rangers to find that might be somewhere out there in the world, is a liberating thought. And so is seeing that keeping on and practicing can make a difference. I can know a thing in theory without really knowing it, and that’s what I’m trying to say.
What I’m trying to say is, even though this is just a fun little book, and I enjoyed it as simply a good STORY, it also made me happy to see Good people and was like a breath of fresh air, and it showed me there’s a place for everyone. Even if you feel like you don’t fit in — especially if you feel like you don’t fit in; it’s Will’s uniqueness that makes him the perfect fit for a job that only a handful of people can fulfill — there’s somewhere that you belong, even if you don’t know what it is yet. Something you can DO, that you’re meant to do. We just have to find it. And no matter how impossible a thing may seem, if you just keep at it, you can succeed.
I’m not saying it’s one of the the greatest books I’ve ever read, or one of the most profound; I’m not even saying that it will be this way for anyone else.
But the thing is . . . it doesn’t have to be.
It’s a fun and light read which I spent an enjoyable morning with and just… made me happy.
And that’s all it needs to be.
And, while it was at it, it showed me things about life where I’m at right now, without — I’m sure — really meaning to.
It made me smile and taught me things. And isn’t that one of the things good Fantasy is best at?
Ruins of Gorlan was a book I read when I first started high school, which was in 2010, I think. I graduated last year so I refuse to acknowledge maths. It's a book I've hunted for a while now, and I'm so glad to have my hands on it that it's ridiculous.
I did have problems with this book during my re-read though. Maybe because it's a middle grade book, probably not. However, this book reads like an introductory novel. We barely get much action but are instead introduced to the world of the story.
The story we have is about a 15 year old orphan named Will. In his kingdom when a ward of the Baron turns 15 there is a chance for craft masters to take on apprentices, to train them to be a great knight, cook, or diplomat. Will, a small boy, has his eyes set on being a knight. However, when the Choosing Day comes he is not given a position that will grant him knighthood, he is however chosen by the mysterious Ranger - a craft no one knows much about bar from the Rangers. It is rumoured they know magic from the way they blend into the shadows. At first, Will has an aversion to the position. But, as Halt, his master, and him grow closer he learns to love his craft.
That is basically the plot of this particular book. We get several perspectives in the book, but the two which continue to pop up are Horace, a ward who Will grew up with, and Will. Also, despite the plot being slightly boring, the descriptions are beautiful and the characters are developed beautifully. For example, the Baron, and the fact no one seems to understand his sense of humour.
Will is our small main character. At 15 he is quite scrawny and aims to be a knight. It's all he's ever wanted since he was put on a doorstep of the castle without a second name. He has created a story after being told his father was a hero. As a Ranger though he finally feels at home with Halt.
Will was a pretty interesting character. As a young boy it wasn't as interesting to me considering I'm an 18 year old girl, but I still loved his perspectives. It was nice to be back in his head after all these years where I wasn't and had forgotten the story. I loved his relationships with his friend, how one developed with Horace, his relationship with both Tug and Halt as well.
His character could have been developed a bit more, but it will be in later books, but he is ultimately loyal to a fault and brave.
Horace was the bully when him and Will were the wards of the Baron. He used his strength against him, Will using his wit to outsmart Horace. Horace is recruited into battle school on his path to knighthood, and he's great. He's smart and great with a sword, except now he's on the receiving end of bullies. Three second year apprentices making his life a living hell at the school. Thankfully, that sorts itself out thanks to both Halt and Will.
Horace had some incredible character development purely in this first book. He changed from an obnoxious and boastful character into one who could joke about his shortcomings and refrained from mentioning his positives. I really loved his chapters, and the insight into the other school.
This book is primary world-building so it was incredibly well developed. It is a historical feeling world with magic elements to it. You have Knights, castles, Baron's, and Ladies. But, there is also the element of Wargals and different beasts which weren't present in that time period.
I love the world, personally. I think it's perfectly done by the author and an absolute stand out.
Was pretty subpar, which is why I've rated this book 3 stars. I know the later books have much more vibrant plots, this book was purely getting us into the world and introducing the antagonist who will appear later.
I still loved the plot in this book, Will's journey into loving being a Ranger.
I also still had favourite parts. For example, a Ranger's horse needs to be asked before you're allowed to ride it. Each horse had a unique phrase and you must say it before being allowed on the horse. This completely eliminates the element of stealing.
The writing was a tad wordy in some places. But, it was descriptive to the point you were hearing and seeing what the protagonist did. The Ranger's job is to see everything, and to do so you must use all your senses, so the author describes everything in a way where you are able to understand what is happening perfectly.
I also liked the fact that despite the fact a few people had grey hair it was always describe in different hues so I wasn't picturing the same character in the same way. This goes for other words too, I'm just using grey as an example.
I recommend this book if you're looking to return to your middle grade roots, or just have a fast read. The characters are interesting. The world is interesting. The crafts are interesting. Women aren't even discriminated against, they're given crafts as well. So, I definitely recommend this without a doubt despite how my rating may seem low.
4,5💫 Pomimo tego, że to moje pierwsze spotkanie z tą serią, podczas czytania czułam się jak w domu, jakbym powróciła do dzieciństwa, nie wiem jak to określić i wyrazić, po prostu wzbudziła we mnie same miłe odczucia i wspomnienia.
Wow, what a start to the series. Ranger's Apprentice can be compared to Brian Jacques's Redwall novels and Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians, but forges its own identity in an intriguing fantasy world. The Kingdom of Araluen has experienced trying times ever since Lord Morgarath's violent grab for power. The inscrutable Rangers thwarted his attempt to use mind control of animals called Wargals to attack the kingdom, and now Morgarath is exiled to the Mountains of Rain and Night, where he obsesses over destroying the barons of Araluen and uniting their fifty fiefs under his own rule. A decade and a half has passed since Morgarath lost the war, and he's ready to make his next move. Araluen will rue the day it cast him out.
Fifteen years after the war, its orphans are adolescents. Baron Arald, Lord of Redmont Fief and chief benefactor of the orphans, is preparing to host the annual Choosing Day, when all fifteen-year-olds announce what career they want to apprentice into and are accepted or declined by the Craftmaster in that profession. Parents usually strike a deal with the Craftmaster in advance, but orphaned wards must rise and fall on their own merits. Will, Horace, George, Alyss, and Jenny are among this year's wards. Like Horace, Will is desperate to go to Battleschool and become a knight, guarding Araluen from threats foreign and domestic. Horace is a shoe-in for selection: he's big, strong, and speedy, but Will is a borderline candidate. Rumor has it that Will's father—who remains unidentified—was a war hero, a rumor Will chooses to believe despite having no evidence, but the boy lacks the physique of a warrior. Will Sir Rodney the Battlemaster overlook this in light of Will's eagerness to follow in his father's footsteps?
"People will think what they want to...Never take too much notice of it."
—Halt, The Ruins of Gorlan, P. 147
Choosing Day goes as Horace, George, Alyss, and Jenny desire. Horace proudly enters Battleschool, well-spoken George is apprenticed to the Scribemaster, Alyss is taken into the Diplomatic Service, and Jenny will study with Master Chubb, the cook. Will is not so readily matched with a Craftmaster. He's too small for Battleschool, Sir Rodney insists, and Ulf the Horsemaster denies him admittance to Horseschool for the same reason. Anyone rejected by every Craftmaster is assigned to learn farming, which couldn't be further from the legacy of Will's father. Yet Will is disconcerted when Halt, a Ranger, steps in to speak with Baron Arald privately. No outright offer is made, but would Will accept an apprenticeship with Halt? Rangers are feared by every youth in the kingdom, who have only a vague idea of the profession, but surely it's closer to being a warrior than farming could be. Entrusting his future to Halt is a leap of faith, but Will is ready.
Settling in at Halt's cottage in the woods is a rough adjustment. Will's inquisitive nature exasperates Halt, who assigns the boy menial household chores to keep him busy and quiet. But though Horace, who engaged Will more as a rival than a friend during their teen years, was admitted to Battleschool as he wanted, his transition is more stressful than Will's. The cadets are pushed to the limits of endurance, hardening them for war should it return to Araluen. Academic standards are high. But it's the sophomores who make Battleschool miserable for Horace. Three of them—Alda, Bryn, and Jerome—leverage their seniority to demean and make outrageous demands of him, all out of earshot of Sir Rodney. Horace despises the bullies, but doesn't want to draw attention to himself as a cadet who can't handle Battleschool. Recognizing Horace's exceptional talent for weapons combat, Sir Rodney considers him for special training in the future, but the boy seems to lack the discipline to even graduate. Sir Rodney senses there's a hidden dimension to Horace's problems, which is why he hasn't expelled him, but he can't wait much longer for the ill-tempered teen to bloom.
Will thrives under Halt's strict instruction. The Ranger systematically dispels his misconceptions about their profession, letting Will make mistakes when he acts rashly, and teaching the boy more gently when he humbly listens. The horse Halt has chosen for Will, named Tug, is nothing like the ones knights ride. Tug is closer to the size of a large dog than a battle steed, but Halt reminds Will that he knows how it feels to be misjudged because of size. A small horse is just right for a Ranger, whose priority is stealth. Ranger weaponry is also a far cry from the broadswords that knights carry. A sturdy bow and quiver of arrows is better at a distance than a sword, and a throwing knife has multiple uses to stop an enemy. Will develops into a deadeye archer, and hones his natural ability to move around undetected until it resembles a superpower. The Kingdom of Araluen relies on Rangers to deal with burgeoning threats before the populace is impacted, and every day Will trains to do that. But can he be effective when the peril is real?
There's tension the next time Will and Horace see each other, but they're both committed to defense of Araluen. That shared loyalty won't let them stay enemies. A sinister threat looms: Morgarath's Wargals are on the move for the first time in years. Is the evil lord just stirring up trouble at the border, or plotting something worse? Morgarath once controlled a horde of creatures called Kalkara, and though only two are left alive, they're as deadly as any foes in the kingdom or beyond. The half-bear, half-ape beasts are capable of killing several knights in full armor simultaneously, and their hypnotic gaze paralyzes opponents. Halt and Will must hunt down and slay the two Kalkara before they pick off Araluen's best knights one by one, leaving the kingdom vulnerable to a military coup by Morgarath. It's Will chance to prove he can be as indispensable to king and country as any Battleschool knight. But will he survive his encounter with a bitter enemy whose power almost exceeds the bounds of imagination?
The Ruins of Gorlan is a delight to the imagination, but also tactfully imparts timeless lessons. Halt repeatedly demonstrates to Will that mastery of a craft means prioritizing function over flash. The uninitiated are awed by a warrior who skillfully wields a sword, but a Ranger has failed if the enemy gets that close. Use your bow and supply of arrows judiciously and you may never need to fight an enemy at close range. A Ranger who wins every battle at long distance survives to soak up more knowledge and experience, and serves the kingdom better for it. If arrows don't stop your foe, a knife thrown with precision can pierce their heart before they get their hands on you. Only when both options fail does a Ranger resort to proximal combat, where a stubby knife is better suited for a quick plunge into the heart than a showy sword could possibly be. His entire life Will has imagined being a warrior, but had no concept of his own ignorance; now he's learning how one who earnestly wishes to defend the kingdom goes about it. Will has the potential to be more important than any knight, and he could have no finer instructor than Halt.
A Ranger's apprentice has a variety of lessons to learn. Halt is gruff and hardly a socialite, but shows Will by example how to treat people. Courtesy and decency lay the groundwork for future alliances, and that means behaving diplomatically toward rivals. "Once you best a man, never gloat. Be generous and find something in his actions to praise. He won't enjoy being bested, but he'll make a good face of it. Show him you appreciate it. Praise can win you a friend. Gloating will only ever make enemies." Halt takes seriously his responsibility to shepherd Will toward becoming a good man, and Will learns to accept correction and let it improve him. An aura of mystique surrounds the Rangers because being one is about more than reconnaissance work. Regardless, many share Will's early instinct to value knights higher. Alda, Bryn, and Jerome, Horace's tormentors at Battleschool, can't square themselves with Will looking like more of a hero than a Battleschool cadet, and lash out as a result. Only over time will good Rangers prove their indispensable contribution to Araluen. Still, Will has lingering doubts about his future as a Ranger when his father excelled on the battlefield, and Halt acknowledges this uncertainty. "It is possible, of course...to want to do two different things at the same time. Then it just becomes a choice of knowing which one you want most." Life offers more choices than any person could follow up on, and there's regret to choosing one path to the exclusion of others. What might have been if you put your passion into something else? Is one life enough to quench the soul's thirst for more? But choosing a path and sticking with it allows you to discover what you're capable of with a lifetime's devotion to a single discipline, and that's Will's future in the Rangers if he wants it. There's more learning, growing, and adventure in the novels to come, and I'll be there enjoying every step of Will's journey.
I love this book. John Flanagan is a gifted storyteller, Will is a good-hearted main character, and Halt is a wise teacher that any reader can learn from. The story has scarcely begun, but I'm captivated by the exciting action, personal drama, and political intrigue that will determine the fate of Araluen, which is caught between compelling forces of virtue and villainy. I'd rate this book three and a half stars, and considered rounding up to four. I'm pleased to say this is a prodigious start to a series my hopes are higher for than ever.
Just as good the second time!!!! I've missed these characters so much.
Original: This was soooo good. I was enjoying it plenty, and then PLOT TWIST. And then that ending. Four words, one sentence... I would have been happy crying if I hadn't been on the airplane. Needless to say, when I saw the sequel at HPB, I snatched it up. Halt was the best, Will was so... good? Amazing? He was a very good MC, to be sure. And then Horace... And Alyss and the other wards... Loved. It. So. Much.
Only one thing I didn't like was the minor cursing: 4 uses of .
My sis and my spy have both been PESTERING me to read this series. I finally found the first book at the library....and now I completely understand why they love it so much. And why the books make everyone hungry...lol.
I dearly love strong and silent hero types....and Halt fit that bill wonderfully. Will and Horace showed excellent character development. I really want to shadow a Ranger now...
Language: 4 stars. 5 instances of d*** and 1 instance of h***. All of which were very unnecessary and could have been easily substituted with a cleaner option. *rolls eyes* Abuse: 4 stars. Horace is physically and mentally bullied a fair bit by other, very mean sophomore apprentices. Quite a lot of fighting as well. Lust: 4 1/2 stars. 1 instance of mild kissing (really? Seriously? Why? Did you HAVE to add that little romantic morsel, Flanagan??). Oh yes...and there is innocent mention of...hem...rabbits mating. Granted, it was portrayed in a humorous light but REALLY? It was one of those cringey instances where all you can do is just laugh.
10 year old me: obsessed with Halt 26 year old me: still obsessed with Halt
as a kid i could walk into a bookstore, pick a random book and somehow ended up with a ten star read every single time. nowadays i spend hours picking a book, carefully vetting every single option, yet every book i read is shit - what's up with that.
mentor characters that are all strict and act cold-hearted meanwhile deeply care about their protégé are, have been, and will always be my only reason for living
"Then, as he neared the massive doors once more, he saw a sight that stopped him in his tracks, stunned with surprise. For, standing a little aside from the crowd, wrapped in his gray and green mottled cloak, his eyes shadowed by the cowl, was Halt.
I really enjoyed this book! I was hooked from the very start. The premise is very unique, and the story is awesome! I wasn't a huge fan of Flanagan's writing style; there was a bit too much description for me. And he totally did what my sister and her writing friends refer to as 'the backstory dump'. *shudders* My only other issue was the amount of language. I wasn't expecting there to be any, so it was rather disappointing. There wasn't a ton, thankfully, and they were all pretty mild. But enough to bug me. It was completely unnecessary in each of the instances used.
I love the characters; they each had depth and unique personality. My favorite is Halt. I love his sarcasm and seriousness! Will is also great too. I often find MCs to be rather cliché, and I don't often relate to them, but I really liked Will. I liked Alyss too, but I felt she was a bit underdeveloped. Jennie was so sweet; I could totally relate to her! And George. I am a combination of George and Jennie. ;)
The story line was great; Not a lot was wrapped up, obviously because this is a series. The ending was phenomenal! I knew what was going to happen, but I didn't KNOW what was going to happen!
AND THOSE KALKARAS!!! Whew! Those things are CREEE-epy! I am not usually a timid person, but those creatures are enough to terrify a grown man! ;)
All in all, I really enjoyed this book and am excited to read the rest!
This was amazingly bad. The writing itself is basically readable, but every single detail, phrase, made-up-name and plot point is the most cliched cliche ever written. Oh no! The evil Morgarath is trying to take over the generically Medieval Europe! Only young Will, an orphaned apprentice to the mysterious Rangers, can possibly save the kingdom! Le sigh.
Ack!!! Such an amazing book!! I would give a review but I don't have a lot of time so I will say.... basically it's amazing and everyone who loves action, fighting, and growing characters needs to read this!!
I also will hate the covers as much as the next person because they could be so much better.
DNF This isn't a bad book, just not for me...the head-hopping is literally driving me insane. It may just be because I'm a writer myself and know head-hopping is a big no...but I think also it's that I'm listening on audible, so it's a lot jerkier, in my opinion, to head hop than if I was reading it myself. Also, the audio voice for Will is suuuuuuuuppppppppppeeeeeeerrrrrrrrr annoying. Like very annoying, so that's not helping me any...lol... I might pick this book back up some day in the future and actually read it instead of listening to audio.
3 stars/would not re-read/probably would not recommend
My thoughts about this book are a bit scattered and inconsistent, but in the end my review is going to be lots of “meh, it was okay, but what I wouldn’t give to be a Ranger.”
For those of you who don’t like reading long painful reviews, here is the total summary:
Also, just to let the people who actually read my reviews know, I’m changing my review system. Again. Sorry…
Positive Elements: There were lots of really good messages in this book, even if they were pretty surface level. These include demonstrating that bullying is bad and courage isn’t about not feeling fear, it’s about standing in the face of fear. There were some issues that I’ll get to in the next section.
Negative Elements and Content: Along with the really good messages were some other not-so-good ones. For example, A few uses of h*** and d***, although minor and not very intrusive. Mild violence that again, didn’t really bother me a whole lot. (Take that with a grain of salt as violence almost never bothers me anyway)
Characters Ooookay. This is the main reason I’m so meh about this book. Brace yourself for a long rant that I’m going to try to shorten for your sake. First of all, every single character is a literal vegetable. Apparently Flanagan believes that if he adds one quirk per character, that immediately makes them human and relatable and unique. Sorry, dude. That’s not how that works. Just because the Baron has a thing for humor doesn’t actually make him any different from Gilan or even Halt. The voice of the characters was another thing that really really really bothered me. Will is… 15? Really? Because he reads like an 11-year-old. I’m not even joking. There’s something very immature about his inner dialogue that doesn’t fit well into a narrative where 1, the kid is supposed to be 15, and 2, the kid is supposed to be the star of an epic high fantasy. If he was 11, that wouldn’t be a problem, but he’s not. This gets worse. Everyone’s inner dialogue is very similar to Will’s. What does this mean? Everyone sounds like an 11-year-old. This really grates on my nerves, if you couldn’t tell! :D
Plot Decent, but slow. There was lots of wandering. While normally I really like reading about training and everyday character life, this was a rare occasion where I didn’t. The training didn’t actually develop Will’s or Horace’s characters. At all. It was entirely pointless and made me nearly fall asleep. It does pick up towards the end, but definitely be ready for a long haul.
Worldbuilding Again, meh. I had a pretty good idea of what the world looks like, but it was nothing spectacular. The world was pretty normal and fit well within fantasy tropes, leaving me yawning and wishing there was something to set it apart.
Writing/Prose If there’s one thing I hate, it’s 3rd person omniscient done badly. Actually, I really don’t like 3rd person omniscient period, but these books made it a bit painful to read. The head-jumping is so frequent that it gets dizzying, and it makes the inner dialogue all the more immature from what it already was. There’s also quite a bit of telling and not much showing. Yuck.
Everything else One more problem I had with this book: okay, so picture Lord of the Rings. Now take out half the characters, the ring, and all the things that make it good, and you pretty much have The Ruins of Gorlan. The plot ended up branching away from this, but the concept of a dark lord brooding in the mountains with mentally dysfunctional minions helping him out is… painfully reminiscent of LotR.
I gave this book 3 stars rather than 2 because it has some good messages and if you like fantasy, you can enjoy it. However, it’s slow, the characters are cardboard, and to top that off, the overused tropes are frequent. I’ve heard the series improves, so I’m going to keep pushing, and we’ll see how that turns out.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
How that I'm working in a bookshop, I need to be familiar with books that we sell often, like this series. And my coworker and friend told me they were fun. And oh boy, she was right. I highly enjoyed this!
It is a fun series with adventure and a bit of a fantasy element, like LOTR junior but with a completely different setting and much more speed and events and adventures. It is 12+, but suitable and fun for any age. (Technically, my age of 27 is 12+, of course :P) very suitable for boys, but of course also a fun read for girls.
My library has an app for audiobooks, and this one (and the rest of the series!) are available there. I love this, because this is included in my membership anyway. When i bike to work (half an hour), I'm able to listen and thus read a book while I would have listed to random music otherwise. I love this, more reading time!
I enjoyed the book and I enjoyed it in this format. of course, if I'd read it, it would have taken me less time. But I listed to this on moments I was not able to read a book (have you ever tried reading a book and driving a bike at the same time? BAD idea), so it feels like this is an extra read or something.
Will and all the other wards are waiting to be chosen for the apprenticeship that will shape their life, they have turned 15. All Will's friends are chosen for the apprenticeship they wanted...Will isn't.
That night Will basically risks his life to get into the baron's office and find out more about his past...he is an orphan after all. In doing this he passes the Ranger Halt's test and he is chosen as the Ranger's apprentice.
An excellent book I enjoyed it...I find there are a lot of good YA books out there....and this one is especially so. Recommended. Enjoy.
An excellent fantasy for middle readers. I can see why this gets rave reviews. The characters were instantly likable, the world was simple and well-built, and the action was exciting! I am actually interested in the rest of the series, which is unusual for me these days.