Philomel Books, 2005. 978-0-399-24454-4
Synopsis: Will is an orphan with no last name and no one to tell him about who or what his parents were. He is raised as a ward of Baron Arauld, Lord of Redmount Fief and at fifteen, is chosen to be apprenticed to a Ranger named Halt instead of going to Battle School to learn to be a knight. The Rangers have always been shadowy characters and Will only knows about them what is whispered between the Lords. But Will will learn that there is more to the Rangers than just their silent movements and mysterious ways, and that perhaps he is more suited to the task than he might believe.
Why I picked it up: I saw it on sale when I was on one of my book binges and remembered reading a rave review about it. Plus, I’m into high fantasy books.
Why I finished it: The book reads a lot like a much friendlier less epic Lord of the Rings (which is pretty much the standard for epic fantasies as far as I am concerned), bringing the reader gradually into the Arulen universe by first introducing the characters and then carefully moving into the main plot. My only issue with this is that two of the six characters we are introduced to (both female) don’t really have a large role in the overall story and so they remain flat and objective even when they pop up in later chapters. I know the story is largely to appeal to boys, but it irks me a little to see girls sort of shoved into the background (then again, I’m a girl, so my opinion either way doesn’t amount to much). The pacing of the story is sequential – first this happens, then that, etc., etc., and meanwhile this is also happening – something crucial to the fantasy genre that I feel some writers are missing. We’re getting little bits and pieces of a mystery at the beginning that are properly revealed by the end of the story, which I found rather refreshing though I know there is more books in the series. I am also a fan of the mentor/student relationship between Will and Halt (how do these writers come up with these names?) because it shows how an adult is capable of teaching and then fading into the background trusting that the teen can do their own thing. The omniscient third person narrative was well done and didn’t try to focus on things outside of what each individual character didn’t know or observe – I was only sorry that some of the minor characters didn’t get much in the way of a description beyond a name. Overall, it’s got me totally hooked and when I get paid, I’m totally running out to get the next book!
Other related materials: Ranger’s Apprentice Book 2: The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan; Ranger’s Apprentice Book 3: The Icebound Land by John Flanagan; Ranger’s Apprentice Book 4: The Battle for Skandia by John Flanagan; Ranger’s Apprentice Book 5: The Sorcerer of the North by John Flanagan; Ranger’s Apprentice Book 6: The Siege of Macindaw by John Flanagan; Ranger’s Apprentice Book 7: Erak’s Ransom by John Flanagan; Ranger’s Apprentice Book 8: The Kings of Clonmel by John Flanagan; Ranger’s Apprentice Book 9: Halt’s Peril by John Flanagan; Ranger’s Apprentice Book 10: The Emperor of Nihon-Ja by John Flanagan; Ranger’s Apprentice: The Lost Stories by John Flanagan; The Brotherband Chronicles books by John Flanagan; The Heroes of Olympus books by Rick Riordan; Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan; Underland Chronicles series by Suzanne Collins; The Missing books by Margaret Peterson Haddix; The Seven Realms books by Cinda Williams Chima; Septimus Heap books by Angie Sage; The 39 Clues series