Ranger’s apprentice – book 1
The ruins of Gorlan
Random House Australia
I am in so much trouble now. I have just read the first book in the Ranger’s apprentice series, which Mr 11 has been telling me to read for over a year. He has read all twelve books in the series, and so has my husband. And I knew that if I started, I would want to keep going until I’d read the whole series. And to me, that’s the perfect sort of summer holiday reading – to binge-read a whole series. Not so ideal in the month before Christmas, with work deadlines and lots of social events. I pulled it from the stack on my bedside table – where it had been sitting there for months – and decided that I would be strong enough to read just one book. Well, I’ve already started the second …
The story: Will is a ward of the castle, brought into the castle as a lonely baby with no parents. At fourteen, he and the other four wards, are chosen by various craftmasters to learn their crafts – battleschool, cooking, diplomacy, scribework. But none of the craftmasters are interested in Will. Will had hoped for a chance at battleschool, despite the fact that he was small. He is eventually chosen to be a ranger’s apprentice, which fills Will with dread because Halt, the Ranger for the fiefdom, is grim and is said to be a soccerer. Will learns the craft of the Rangers – horse-riding, archery, camouflage, tracking animals and enemies, gathering intelligence. These skills are needed, as Castle Redmont and the Kingdom of Araluen are about to enter a war with Morgarath, the evil lord who destroyed part of the kingdom fifteen years ago.
The highlights: This is such a fabulous series for 9-12 year-old boys – even though I’ve just started on the second book, I can make this claim! Mr 11 read the first three books from the library at age ten. Then we bought him the complete set for his 11th birthday, and he has read the entire series twice. There are fabulous male role models, who can be admired for their battle skills but also their fine leadership skills. (I am waiting to see how the two girls in the book develop over the series – they make a pretty sketchy appearance in the first book. Apparently, there’s a strong female character coming up in later books, which I’m just starting to see in the second book now.) There are fight scenes with frightening beasts and fight scenes with bullies. There are thoughtful scenes of dialogue between Will and Halt, where Will learns a little more about himself and his family. It’s a fast-paced adventure story, with a timeless, classic feel of a quest and the themes of courage and loyalty.
The website has screensavers and a fabulously dramatic book trailor for the whole series, plus descriptions of the characters.