Title: The Ruins of Gorlan (The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 1)
Author: John Flanagan
Primary Audience/age group: 10+
# Of pages: 272
Year of Release: 2006
Part of a Series? Yes. 1 of 8, though not all released in the U.S.
Rating: 4 View Scale
Description: (From School Library Journal)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.
Review: Well done story emphasizing the chance for anyone to be a hero. Written by a father with his son as the first audience you can see the value placed on strong relationships between adults and youths (something lacking in much of YA literature). The story tracks Will’s training closely and the other student in knight-school almost as much. You can tell Flanagan has done his homework, but his reserch (and/orexperience) never is the focus– always the characters. Excellent mix of action and understanding throughout.
Rating: 4. It might be a 5, but that would depend on ones definition of mild violence ;o) So well go with a 4.
Positive: The relationship between Will and his mentor is one of utmost respect. All the adult authority figures are worthy of their posts and guide their young charges well.
(Spoiler:) Rivals become friends and supporters of one another in danger.
Spiritual Elements: None I remember
Violence: A wild boar hunt, and (Spoiler:) the burning of bear-like assassins.
Horace takes non-lethal revenge on the bullies tormenting him.
Language: D*** might be here somewhere. I know I saw them in book 2.
Sexual Content: A single kiss at the end. Rather chaste and out of the blue, in a manner of speaking.
Recommendation: Highly recommended, both because of the emphasis on friendship across type (a knight and a ranger in this case), and the value placed on intergenerational cooperation and respect. These both require more focused writing than cheap shots at cardboard jerks or authority figures more foolish than the children whose lives they are making miserable. This is a series I am very eager to peruse further.