I got into youth literature fairly late into my “career” as a reader. Yet, I find these books to be the best. It lifts back your spirits when you can’t read for days and days. It helps you rest from such heavy-duty books as “A Song of Fire and Ice“. And it just happens so that I took first book in Ranger’s Apprentice “The Ruins of Gorlan” by John Flanagan (ISBN: 9780142406632; 249p.; Goodreads) for both the reasons. And I regret nothing.
The story is great in its simplicity. Will is a short and scrawny boy, very agile, but otherwise a little too limited to be a warrior, as he dreamed to be. He is one of the war orphans, raised by the lords who wished to honor the sacrifice of their parents, by giving their kids a chance to become a somebody. When they are all of age, they get invited into a sort of a choosing, where Masters of their own skill take a kid for themselves as an apprentice. As kids do, Will imagined his father to be a great knight who died in a heroic battle. Thus he stepped forth and asked to be taken as a warrior. And felt his dreams shatter.
Rangers are much like Sapkowski’s Witchers. People fear them, think them a sort of freaks, oddities. Yet facts remain – a kingdom cannot survive without a ranger, sometimes also called simpler: a spy. Once, long ago, a ranger was the one who led the forces of the allies through the forests and helped crush the Enemy. Yet the Enemy is rising again and he wants revenge on all those who took part in his downfall. Including the still alive Ranger. And while all of them are hurrying to their lords, to warn them, to help them prepare for battle, Will and a pair of other Rangers are heading the wrong way. To the heart of it all: The Ruins of Gorlan. That is where Will realizes how boring is the life of a warrior in compare to being a Ranger.
As I said, I regret nothing. The book is simple, full of well paced adventures, with time enough to breathe and get to know the characters. I’d give it 4.5, but since I can’t do that on Goodreads, let’s just pass a full 5 out of 5 to it. Last pages melted in my hands and I am grateful for it.