Reviews for Ruins of Gorlan : Ranger's Apprentice, book 1


Booklist Reviews 2005 June #1
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 5-8. Like the other 15-year-old wards of Castle Redmont, Will is nervous about Choosing Day, when each of them will be assigned to a different master for training. Though his dearest wish is to enter the Battleschool, his small stature prevents it. Instead, Will is apprenticed to the grim-faced, mysterious Ranger. Soon Will learns that becoming a ranger is more difficult, dangerous, and worthwhile than he had imagined. He earns the respect of his elders and the friendship of a former foe, but all this is prelude to the great adventure that follows, when his skills wielding a knife and keeping a heightened awareness of his surroundings become vital to the survival of his mentor and the safety of the kingdom. The last few years have seen the publication of many fantasies, but few have the appeal of this original story. Rather than creating a host of strange creatures and magical powers, Flanagan concentrates on character, offering readers a young protagonist they will care about and relationships that develop believably over time. Will's world is a colorful place, threatened by an evil warlord and his fierce minions, but it's the details of everyday living and the true-to-life emotions of the people that are memorable. Children will definitely look forward to the next adventure in the Ruins of Gorlan series. ((Reviewed June 1 & 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Fall
Will, an orphan, is apprenticed to the taciturn Ranger Halt. His childhood rival Horace is training at the elite Battleschool. Unbeknownst to either, an ancient foe prepares to strike their kingdom, launching an epic struggle--and a series that begins promisingly with this crisply written adventure. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2005 May #2
Sturdily competent fantasy from a veteran Australian screenwriter, this quartet opener introduces five teenaged orphans raised together in the medieval-like kingdom of Araluen, focusing on the apprenticeship of wiry, clever Will to a mysterious scout/spy, and on Will's changing relations with oversized, rival-later-friend Horace. Though Will's slight physique keeps him out of Battleschool, his first choice, it turns out to be just the ticket for Ranger work, which combines survival skills and keen powers of observation with the ability to move about unseen. As Will is learning these arts, Horace is finding Battleschool almost more than he can handle, thanks to a trio of particularly brutal bullies-and further afield, evil Lord Morgarath, being bent on conquest, has sent two kalkera, brutish bear/apes, out to assassinate Araluen's most prominent war leaders. Flanagan does nothing to boost his typecast characters, familiar themes or conventional, video-game plot above the general run, but readers with a taste for quickly paced adventure with tidy, predictable resolutions (kalkera and bullies vanquished, Will and Horace heroes and buddies) won't be disappointed. (Fantasy. 11-13) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews
Bestial villains, noble knights and deposed despots prepare their forces for impending battle in the first book in the Ranger's Apprentice series by Australian author Flanagan. Fifteen-year-old Will, orphaned as a child, and his close friends anxiously await Choosing Day, when each will be chosen--or not--for apprenticeship in one of several schools. Those not chosen wind up as farm labor to help feed the castledwellers. "It was a fate [Will] feared more than anything." He entertains notions of entering Battleschool like his classmate--and sometime adversary--Horace. But because of Will's diminutive stature, and a knack for climbing, hiding and all things clandestine, he is instead chosen to be a Ranger, under the tutelage of Halt, who years earlier exiled the evil Morgarath to the land of the Mountains of Rain and Night. As Will learns archery and stealth techniques, he makes peace with Horace (who is being tormented by older classmates at Battleschool), and the two must then travel with a contingent of Rangers and warriors to fight invading, "almost invincible" Kalkara--bearlike assassins sent by Morgarath to kill Halt. On the whole, the story owes much to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Flanagan's Rangers more than recall Tolkien's, and the deposed Morgarath and his inhuman Wargals parallel Saruman and the Orcs a bit too closely. Still, for the uninitiated, this is an exciting tale of battle and honor. Ages 10-up. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2005 June
Gr 4-8-A strong debut in a new fantasy series. Will hopes to become a knight; instead, he winds up as a Ranger's apprentice, joining the secretive corps that uses stealth, woodcraft, and courage to protect the kingdom. His aptitude and bravery gradually earn the respect of his gruff but good-hearted master. When the kingdom is attacked by evil magic forces, Will helps track down and defeat a couple of particularly nasty beasts. This closing episode sets the stage for a good-versus-evil war that will likely be at the heart of future volumes. In this opener, though, most of the story focuses on the learning process that Will goes through as an apprentice. Descriptions of Ranger craft are fascinating. Exciting confrontations with bullies and wild boars help to establish the boy's emerging character. Side stories involving a rival Battleschool apprentice and the identity of Will's father are woven in smoothly. The author occasionally spells things out more than is needed when actions demonstrate them clearly enough. However, the well-paced plot moves effortlessly toward the climax, letting readers get to know the world and the characters gradually as excitement builds. The public adoration Will gains at the end seems slightly overdone given the established distrust people feel for Rangers, but it's still a pleasing finish and should leave readers eager to share the future adventures of the Ranger's apprentice.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2005 December
This first volume in a medieval-flavored fantasy series, Ranger's Apprentice, vaults into the central good versus evil conflict with a prologue that is little more than history synopsis. Morgarath lurks in the ruins of his castle, cursing the cavalry that defeated him fifteen years ago, before readers zoom in on five fifteen-year-old friends dining in the victor's castle. All orphan wards of the Castle Redmond, they are preparing to vie for apprentice spots with masters of their chosen crafts. Wiry Will has dreams of becoming a warrior, but when pronounced too slight for Battleschool, he becomes indentured to a Ranger instead. His master is part of a mysterious group of intelligence officers that folks do not trust much. Most of the story is taken up with practice in archery and orienteering, but character development is strong; as Will hones his new skills, he gains self-esteem. After a convenient training period, Morgarath's Wargals rear their ugly heads, and the country prepares for war The third-person omniscient perspective unfortunately makes it too easy for the author to emphasize information that is already evident. Pacing is Flanagan's strength; a boar hunt is executed like a masterfully choreographed dance, and the battle scenes are exciting with just enough detail. The resolution is solid, but enough new issues are raised to warrant interest in the next volume. Less dense and more accessible than Christopher Paolini's Eragon (Knopf, 2003/VOYA August 2003), vivid world building couples with an underdog hero for a compelling read.-Beth Gallaway 4Q 5P M J Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.

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