I first reviewed John Flanagan's epic Ranger's Apprentice series here, back in 2008, when my high school senior was nine years old. At least four of us have kept up with every new installment over the last five years.
Number 12, The Royal Ranger was recently published. As my library has an incredibly long wait time for that volume, I re-visited Number 11, The Lost Stories.
The premise of The Lost Stories is a little hokey, but forgiveable. Modern day archaeologists digging near the ruins of Castle Redmont find the remains of a cabin in the woods. In that cabin, they discover a locked box with the Lost Stories of the Royal Rangers.
Flanagan uses this device to answer readers' specific questions about such topics as what really happened to Will's father, how did Halt go from being in line for the the throne of Clonmel to employment as a Ranger of Araluen, what happened to Gilan after Halt left for Skandia?
These and other stories are all told with the same warm-yet-wry writing style that Flanagan uses to spin all of his tales.
If you haven't read the first ten Ranger's Apprentice books, you aren't going "to get" this one. But if like me, you happen to be a devoted fan of John Flanagan, you may get choked up at some of the scenes.
If you haven't read the first ten Ranger's Apprentice books, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? They are pure adventure tales, like Robin Hood meets King Arthur meets the Lord of the Rings, with touches of fantasy, and a strong dose of medieval history.
|This is where you should begin.|
Rangers are trained in archery, silent movement, small arms combat, and other things helpful in the field of espionage. The Ranger's job is to keep the kingdom (and it's people) safe from invaders, traitors, thieves, and tyrants. It's an incredible and eventful career, just not one that Will had imagined for himself.
In one of their first quests, Will and his sometimes-rival, Horace (who is definitely warrior material) find the missing Princess Cassandra. Will faces Morgarath, is kidnapped with the princess by Skandians, escapes the Skandians, and goes on to defeat brutes and evil-doers all over the known world. Every adventure is better than the last, with the original wards from Book One, appearing and re-appearing throughout.
The weaponry and military maneuvers appear accurate to my novice eye, and told in a manner that is easily grasped by my non-militaristic mind. Yet, Flanagan never bores me!
The Ranger's Apprentice books use very little magic. The first few volumes do have magically created monsters, used by the evil Morgarath, but the "good guys" apparently have no magical abilities, and they STILL manage to defeat evil.
Like all great stories, Flangan originally wrote these tales for his grandson, Michael who was a 10 year old reluctant reader at the time. Go to http://www.rangersapprentice.com/ and register as a ranger to read that and more in an interview with author and grandparent, John Flanagan.
There is another series by Flanagan that has some cross-over with the Ranger's Apprentice settings and characters: The Brotherband Chronicles. I have not read it myself, but I fully intend to read and enjoy it soon.