|The Ruins of Gorlan|
by John Flanagan
"They 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. . . ."
This is one of the top favorite series for my middle school boys. They can't get enough of Ranger's Apprentice books. So I decided to read it and see for myself what all the excitement was about. I really enjoyed it. There was naturally a lot of set-up at the beginning, which the succeeding books will not need, so I wouldn't be surprised to like some of the others even more. The characters were well-developed and it will be interesting to see where they all go from here. The character of Halt reminded me of someone, but I can't think who. It will come to me eventually. Not really Dumbledore-y or Gandalf-y because Halt never smiles and we all know that Dumbledore and Gandalf can have quite the twinkle in their eyes, but the relationship with Will was a lot the same. Or maybe Gibbs and DiNozzo :). There were so many important lessons to learn in this book alongside all the action. Loyalty, friendship, bullying, self-esteem and courage were all dealt with. I definitely recommend it. One thing that was kind of weird, though, was the medieval feel of the book, yet the characters kept talking about taking showers. I found that kind of distracting.
Areas of concern: 5-10 uses of the *d* word. Severe bullying, violence against fantasy creatures.
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 10+
School Library Journal - Grades 4-8