Review: The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice #1) ~ John Flanagan

ruins of gorlanThey 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….

4 Thumbs-UpThis book was part of World Book Night 2014, and the book I was assigned as a Giver.  As I had not read this prior to WBN, in fact I’d not even heard of the Author before having the book assigned to me, I thought I should dive in.

There is something that any reader who is thinking of picking this up to read should know; it is the first in a series of books, and when I series I don’t mean 4 or 5 books, this one stretches out over 12 instalments.  Also for a YA fantasy novel this one really is a good cut above the others I have read in this genre, so much so that I sat and read it in one sitting.

This book was a complete and total surprise for me; I was expecting the usual coming of age teenage angst filled book that would have me wanting to throw it against the wall in parts, but this was definitely not the case.  I would like to say it was the characters and their development that had me hooked, and they were very well written, but it was the complete package of characters, theme and plot that did it for me.

Our main protagonist is a typical boy, he’s into climbing, mischief and the occasional fight but he’s also very smart, not overly so that he comes across as cocky or arrogant, but just enough to make the reader realise that this boy is going places.  His is not the only character that this Author treats well, and brings the reader round to liking, he treats the main characters peers in the same way too, with a skilful pen and a lot of insight.  The main character has a mentor, and I really liked this man; he is aloof, rarely smiles and seems to have the weight of this fantasy world on his shoulders.  As the novel progresses we see how the relationship between Master and Apprentice grows and matures, and how this also affects the way the relationship between the main characters peer changes.  Very well written and believable, these characters are people who new or inexperienced readers could soon be drawn to and want to read more about.

The storyline itself is told from the point of view of the main protagonist, and it moves along in an easy fashion, suitably picking up pace as the events narrated and occurrences dictate.  As well as being a great adventure fantasy novel, this book is also filled with subliminal messages about loyalty and honour, doing what is right and also touches on the subject of bullying.  It is full of suspense, action and some heart-stopping moments that will keep even the most reluctant of readers’ turning the pages until the end.  The reason this review received 4 thumbs and not 5; I just didn’t need to get sucked into another series of books right now, especially one of this length.  Seeing as I have though it looks like there will be some major reading sessions ahead.

I would highly recommend this book for people of all ages who like an epic fantasy, but I think it would be especially suitable for novice or inexperienced readers who have an interest in fantasy.  At just 249 pages it is not long enough that would lose interest, but full of enough adventure to have them wanting to continue reading.

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