Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan (2004)
Fresh off our recent completion of The Hobbit we turned around and burned through Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan far quicker than we expected.
We’ve read this book before, usually when that happens it can take us a while to finish a book, but Ranger’s Apprentice does a great job of capturing our attention with action, humor, and a solid display of archery skills. We’re big fans of archery so, naturally, a book that displays this skill in the forefront gets major props from us.
The Ruins of Gorlan follows the story of a castle ward named Will, his family name unknown. As a baby Will had been left at the castle doors with a single note stating Will’s father died a hero and this boy should be cared for. Since then Will’s grown up at Castle Redmont studying, learning, and waiting for the day when he turns 15 so he could request an apprenticeship at the Battleschool. There, he would begin his journey into Knighthood and become a hero like his father. Unfortunately for Will, he didn’t have the stature and traits ideal for Battleschool recruits, so when the day finally came for him to choose his apprenticeship he was left with no options, facing a life as a commoner in the fields. It would’ve been honest hard work, but not the life of a hero.
Enter Halt, an elite member of the Ranger Corps, and Ranger of Castle Redmont. Halt had taken notice of Will’s dexterity and stealth he’d displayed growing up at the castle. However, it wasn’t until Will completed one final test that Halt knew he wanted Will as his apprentice, and so begins the tales of the Ranger’s Apprentice.
This story does a great job of showcasing character growth, positivity, the results of hard work, and facing one’s fears. Will starts out as this shy timid character but as he begins his Ranger training he gains strength and confidence he never knew he had. This first becomes apparent when he runs into his old bully, after his training there was no fear in his eyes that the bully was accustomed to seeing. Granted, Will tends to be shy at times but he never doubts his training but, with the help of Halt, Will grows into a young man capable of handling life’s crushing events. As the story changes into dangerous plot points Will trusts his training and more importantly, Halt. It becomes clear that this master and apprentice are poised to protect the realm for a long time.
Sidenote: the book also follows the journey of another castle ward named Horace, Will’s childhood bully. Horace, having the strength and stature perfect for Battleschool has his eyes set on becoming a Knight worth remembering. His plan becomes derailed when he enters Battleschool, there his natural ability becomes over-shadowed by constant hazing and demoralization from three upper class students. Horace goes through his own character growth as these experiences change the young man and push him to actions he never thought he could accomplish. A little spoiler, he does make it through his trials on a positive note, and he even creates a friendship that he never looked for.
We look forward to reading more adventures about the Ranger’s Apprentice and we hope you join us along this journey. Hopefully one day we’ll see a live action movie/tv series version of these stories. In one of our first posts we highlighted the Ranger’s Apprentice series as a great option for a new Netflix TV series.
Thank you for your time, remember from the ashes a fire shall spring.
– The Wandering One