I have been waiting for a fantasy book to come along and whisk me away into another world, somewhere completely different. Recently, I have been craving fantasy fiction similar to The Lord of the Rings/ The Hobbit and this has definitely satisfied that craving.
Before chapter one even begins in this book, there is a map to study and a list of the characters with a little explanation of who they are. There is also a prologue all about Morgarath, the dark Lord, which lets you know straight away what kind of evil lurks in its pages. You’re sucked in before it’s even really started! These features would be really helpful for those people who find it challenging to remember names and character backgrounds, which can be particularly challenging when they are unfamiliar names to begin with.
The story revolves around children who live under the keep of Baron Auld and follows their progression into adulthood. The children have to choose and request certain career paths to the Baron when they come of age. These include: being taught in Battleschool to become a Knight; becoming a Scribemaster; work for the Diplomatic service; become a chef or work on the land as a farmer. Will wants to be a Knight like he was told his father was, but after he is rejected he fears that he will be made a farmer. Will didn’t consider that another profession would be better suited for him, a profession that had already noticed his talents of agility and being inconspicuous. Will seems to be destined to become a Ranger.
The rest of the book follows Will and his master, Halt, through Will’s training and trials. He is thrown into a world in which things are changing fast. There are whispers of an old and evil power rising…
I was originally recommended this book by a parent of a child I teach who is also a governor at the school. I therefore need to say a big thank you to her and ask if I can borrow the next book if she has it!! She told me all about the author and where he got his inspiration from. I did a bit more research online as well as reading the Q & A section at the back of the book and found out that Flanagan based the main character, Will, on his son Michael as he was also quite small and cheeky. He wanted to be able to create a hero which was like him, not a big macho strong man like many heroes in other stories are. I like that he felt as though he could protect his son and help build his confidence through his writing. The video below shows Flanagan explaining a bit more about how his characters were created and developed into the people we meet in the story. He also explains how he thought that he had entirely made up the character Halt and hadn’t based him on anyone. Years later, he realised that he was very much like one of his teachers and had subconsciously made him like the man he used to learn from and look up to.
This book would be great for any fan of fantasy stories. If you have seen The Hobbit and liked it, have a go at this. You might have enjoyed Beast Quest when you were younger and want something a bit more challenging now – well look no further! Starter reading the Ranger’s Apprentice series!
John Flanagan also has a website which has extra information about the author and his books. Click here to go to his website