Michael's Reviews > The Ruins of Gorlan

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
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Aug 14, 2010

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bookshelves: read-in-2010
Read in August, 2010

My older cousin wanted me to read this book. He's more interested in fantasy novels than I am, but I gave it a shot anyway. To my surprise, it actually wasn't that bad.

This is very much a novel of character development, world-building, and set-up for the whole series. It follows Will, a fifteen-year-old boy whose greatest hope is to be accepted into Battleschool on Choosing Day, which is when other kids his age are assigned to masters who will teach them the skills they need for their future careers (knights, cooks, etc.). Much to his dismay, he is rejected, because he is too short, but is accepted by the mysterious Halt, who is a Ranger. Therefore, he becomes a Ranger's apprentice (hence the title). Meanwhile, Morgarath, former ruler of Gorlan, is trying to take over the kingdom and is killing many powerful rulers. And since it's a Ranger's job to defend the kingdom, Will just found himself in a whole lot of danger.

There are plenty of things to enjoy about this novel. John Flanagan has created a pretty intresting world for his characters to run around in, and the premise is pretty interesting. He also is good at describing the landscapes, battles, etc. with enough detail that you know exactly what's going on, but you don't feel bogged down with descriptions. And while the evil-guy-tries-to-take-over-the-kingdom thing has been used plenty of times before, I didn't mind reading it again.

This book (and the series as a whole) is targeted for younger boys, probably around late elementary school to mid-middle school level. However, this novel is so heavy with world-building, character development, etc. that it was hard to get into. That, coming from my seventeen-year-old self. If I had been ten years old (most likely the target audience) and read this, I could almost guarantee I wouldn't have been able to make it past the first half. Honestly, it only gets really exciting in the last fifty pages or so.

Also, I realize Will has apparently lived at Castle Redmont his whole life and probably doesn't know a whole lot about the kingdom around him, but he asked questions about everything. It's as if he lived in a closet for the first fifteen years of his life. For example,

"Will, we're going to the Solitary Plain."
"What's that?!?!?!?!"

"We're going to meet King Herbert."
"Who's he?!?!?!?!"

"Morgarath is wreaking havoc across the whole kingdom."
"What's he doing?!?!?!?!"

To top it off, the kid has no common sense when it comes to normal conversations. Oh, sure, put him in a dangerous battle/fight, and he knows exactly what to do, but have a normal conversation with him, and he's an airhead. For example,

"Will, Morgarath has been killing different leaders across the kingdom. He won't stop until the whole kingdom is his, most likely. The situation is very dangerous."
"So, do you think there will be more killings?!?!?!?!"

I guess that's kind of a nit-picky thing, but it got on my nerves. Other than that, it's a pretty enjoyable beginning to a series I plan to continue.
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