The following was written by one of our frequent shoppers; thanks, we always love to hear what others have to say about books.
Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan
This author lives up to my ideas of the Australian individual – fast moving, lots of action and great characters. In Book 1, we meet an apprentice in training as they prepare to be chosen for individual life fields. Unfortunately, young Will is totally unsuited for his dream of Battle School; and the archetype Battle School classmate is a bully who has made his life unhappy for a long time. As the “runt” of the litter, he gets chosen last; and for the Rangers – a mysterious career that most people wouldn’t choose and don’t understand. Immediately Will demonstrates his aptitude for the Rangers by trying to sneak into the King’s chambers to see a paper he wasn’t supposed to review. His mentor catches him and lets him know that the way he got to the Chambers is what makes a Ranger. Maybe this won’t be so bad; and the adventure begins.
Book 2: The Burning Bridge
Two other apprentices (the bully from Battle School, Horace, now turned friend) and Gilan, his mentor’s prior apprentice join Will in his appointed task as a Ranger: protecting the kingdom. An evil man who has plotted for years now has a plan to bring down the King and rule the kingdom. Will, Horace, and Gilan play a large part in thwarting the plans; but Will and a maid servant get kidnapped by the local Vikings, called Skandians, who had joined the evil one. Will demonstrates his loyalty and ability to defend his own, Ranger traits. Did we mention the horses of the Rangers, trained to assist their riders? The sturdy small horses are extra smart and trained to be helpful in detecting ambushes and attacking fiends who would hurt their riders. The bond between horse and rider is very strong and they become characters themselves.
Book 3: The Icebound Land
Life as a slave in Skandia is not a bowl of cherries and Will is set up to become addicted to an herb that can cause his death. The maidservant aids him in escaping and helps to cure the addiction. In the meantime, his mentor, Halt with the help of Gilan tries to find Will to restore him to the kingdom. There are many adventures along the way for both parties. When finally reunited, Will determines to assist Skandia in besting the hordes (think Mongols) trying to overrun the country.
Book 4: The Battle for Skandia
The title expresses the storyline. This series never stops moving along at a very brisk pace but the interplay between the characters is terrific. The entire series brings back fond memories of an ideal of loyalty, friendship, duty and honor that we wish the world could be like today. The war results in a bonding of allies for the future between Araluen (Will’s kingdom) and Skandia.