Ranger's Apprentice Group Read

Keskustelu75 Books Challenge for 2019

Liity LibraryThingin jäseneksi, niin voit kirjoittaa viestin.

Ranger's Apprentice Group Read

1The_Hibernator
tammikuu 15, 2019, 10:17am

Hi everyone! I'm setting up a thread for a year-long group read of Ranger's Apprentice, by John Flanagan. It is a series of middle school books that is supposed to be fantastic. The first book is Ruins of Gorlan. So far, Anita and Morphy are joining me in this group read. Anyone is welcome to join, of course.

2The_Hibernator
tammikuu 15, 2019, 10:18am

I haven't started reading the book yet, as family drama has gotten in the way, but I hope to start today. I'm really excited.

3drneutron
tammikuu 15, 2019, 12:18pm

I’ve added this thread to the group wiki.

4Morphidae
tammikuu 15, 2019, 5:35pm

I've got the first book ordered from the library and should have it within the week.

5FAMeulstee
tammikuu 15, 2019, 6:36pm

I am in, I have a copy from the e-library on my Kobo until February 1st.

6humouress
tammikuu 16, 2019, 1:10am

I've seen this series around; we had almost all the books in our now-defunct club library. Maybe I'll get hold of it and read along with my boys.

I'm trying to get them to improve their written English. They read well and could debate the hind leg off a donkey especially if it's in aid of getting them more screen time, but their writing could stand to be improved.

7FAMeulstee
tammikuu 16, 2019, 5:12pm

For TIOLI readers: I have put The Ruins of Gorlan in January Challenge #4 Read the first book of a series/trilogy or saga.

8humouress
tammikuu 19, 2019, 2:15am

I did look for it in the bookshop last night, but no luck. School starts on Monday - let me see if I can snaffle it from the school library.

9ronincats
tammikuu 19, 2019, 5:07pm

I read the first five or six in this series back when I was working--I bought the books to lend out to some of my students I was encouraging to read more. When I retired, I gave them to the school library. They are fun adventure stories!

Checked--yes I read the five apprentice books, between 2005 and 2010 when I retired.

10FAMeulstee
tammikuu 25, 2019, 2:55pm

Finished today :-)
Enjoyed the adventures of Will and Halt even more after reading the prequels.


(Dutch title De ruïnes van Gorlan)

11The_Hibernator
tammikuu 25, 2019, 3:56pm

Glad you enjoyed it! I'm still only 100pages in because I got some books from the library that I've been waiting for and HAVE to read in three weeks. All come at the same time, of course. I'll try to get this one done quickly, though...it's almost the end of the month, and I've really been enjoying it.

12Morphidae
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 1, 2019, 9:52pm

Okay, I finished the first one and have the second on order. I'm hooked and trying to get MrMorphy to try it.

The plot has been done many times before (an orphan/pig boy/farm girl becomes/is SOMEBODY IMPORTANT) but I've always loved that particular trope.

13FAMeulstee
helmikuu 2, 2019, 7:37am

>12 Morphidae: You are right about the plot, the second prequel shines a little light on his birth.

14The_Hibernator
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 2, 2019, 8:06am

Yeah, I agree that the trope is kind of overdone, but (like you) I enjoy it. I really liked the characters, and I hear this particular series stays addictive the entire time. I also guessed that he's SOMEBODY IMPORTANT. I had a friend once who'd written a book about a boy who turned out to be nobody important. lol. It never got published. Anyway, one thing that's nice about this book, is that he doesn't find out he's important HERE. It's not like a chapter 3 reveal.

I already have the second one, but I think I'll sit down and read Walking Dead Compendium 1 before I have to return it to the library and wait another 4 months for it.

15The_Hibernator
helmikuu 18, 2019, 9:55am

Starting The Burning Bridge!

16FAMeulstee
helmikuu 18, 2019, 4:51pm

Finshed The Burning Bridge, I could not stop because of cliffhanger, so went on with The Icebound Land, same problem at the end. Luckely my copies are from the e-library, so I got a copy of The Battle for Skandia today and went on reading:-)

17The_Hibernator
helmikuu 18, 2019, 5:03pm

Lol. You're a faster reader than I.

18FAMeulstee
helmikuu 18, 2019, 5:30pm

I have no kids distracting me ;-)

19The_Hibernator
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 5, 2019, 12:56pm

Finished Burning Bridge! It was fantastic. Eager to start the next one. I feel that all the characters are developing really well. There weren't any moments in the second book, as there were in the first book, that I wondered "why haven't they..." long before they did. (For example, in the first book . ) I wondered why they hadn't thought of flaming arrows before. I am eager to start the third book, Icebound Land, which I will begin within the next few days. Where is everyone else on the series?

20FAMeulstee
maaliskuu 5, 2019, 1:26pm

I have finished book 4: The Battle for Skandia (or Oakleaf Bearers). I could not stop, and the story had finally an natural end there. Enjoyed them all!

21Morphidae
maaliskuu 6, 2019, 9:20pm

I’ll be picking up Icebound soon.

22humouress
maaliskuu 13, 2019, 5:30pm

Number 2 son is storming through the series, having already read the follow-on Brotherband series. He’s already on The Icebound Land - he can’t get enough of the books.

Number 1 son and I have yet to start. We borrowed The Ruins of Gorlan from the school library but I should get my hands on my own copy soon as my husband has bought it for me on his overseas trip.

23Morphidae
maaliskuu 13, 2019, 8:32pm

Finished The Icebound Land and enjoyed it. I gave it 7/10 stars. A star was removed for head hopping between chapters. It’s annoying in adventure stories. It knocks me out of the story because I’m so involved in one story line I want *that* one to continue. Then I get all riveted into the next chapter and get knocked out *again* when heads are switched. I almost started reading every other chapter to get two uninterrupted stories.

24humouress
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 25, 2019, 4:36pm

Well, I finally started The Ruins of Gorlan by reading the prologue and first chapter as bedtime reading (hard on the throat) to my boys. My younger son was happy for me to read it to him even though he’s just read it and the books immediately following already.

I kept reading even after he had nodded off because my older son was in the room. He claimed to not be interested, saying that he tried to read it a few years ago when one of his friends was into it but he had found it boring. But I’m hoping that he’ll listen to the story, at least (although he was using his phone to surf while I was reading).

So - two very different reactions there.

As for myself, it’s a bit hard to tell at only a chapter in, but it looks like fun.

25The_Hibernator
maaliskuu 26, 2019, 5:31am

Glad you're enjoying it Nina! It's been a pretty fun series for me so far. :)

26Morphidae
maaliskuu 26, 2019, 12:00pm

Same here. I put off #3 because the plot didn’t seem interesting to me but I ended up liking it. I look forward to reading #4 in April.

27firelion
huhtikuu 3, 2019, 7:18am

Humouress (Nina) here; I'd like to introduce my 10 year old (firelion) who is storming ahead with the Ranger's Apprentice series. So far, he's read and reviewed the first four books and is currently halfway through book 5.

28The_Hibernator
huhtikuu 3, 2019, 7:19am

Wow, welcome firelion! Glad you're enjoying the books. I'm still half-way through the third because I got derailed last month!

29FAMeulstee
huhtikuu 3, 2019, 3:24pm

>27 firelion: Welcome!
So now I can start reading the 5th book soon :-)

30Morphidae
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 5, 2019, 5:49pm

I read The Battle for Skandia last month and I’m not quite sure how to rate it. While once again I enjoyed Flanagan’s writing and like his characters very much, the logic of allowing an enemy to direct your forces simply escapes me. As much as the characters try to reason it out, the Skandians up to this point have been rabid about their hatred. It makes no sense. Therefore, I’m going to give it 6/10 stars - for the huge plot hole.

31FAMeulstee
kesäkuu 1, 2019, 5:18am

I finished book 5 (The Sorcerer of the North) and 6 (The Siege of Macindaw).
Book 5 ends with a cliffhanger, so it is advisable to have book 6 ready when you finish book 5.

The stories in short: Will is send to his first full Ranger job at the island Seacliff. He does some good work there, but is suddenly called back by Halt and Crowly for an assignment in the north of Araluen. Strange things are happening at castle Macindaw, many say there is a sorcerer involved... Alyss is also send up north to assist Will.

32humouress
joulukuu 18, 2019, 12:56am

I’ve finally! read The Ruins of Gorlan and reviewed it on my thread. It’s not sticking very well at the moment so I’ll post it to the book page later.

Giving it 4 stars on balance especially considering that it’s recommended for 10+ on the back of my book.

33The_Hibernator
joulukuu 18, 2019, 1:30pm

I am recently finished Battle for Skandia, and am working slowly on Siege of Macendaw

34Morphidae
joulukuu 18, 2019, 4:33pm

35The_Hibernator
joulukuu 18, 2019, 6:11pm

Huh? Did I miss one?

36The_Hibernator
joulukuu 18, 2019, 6:12pm

Lol! No wonder nothing is making sense!

37humouress
huhtikuu 29, 2020, 4:05pm

Progressing apace; I’ve now finished The Burning Bridge.

38The_Hibernator
toukokuu 2, 2020, 7:42am

Lol. I'm working on Sorcerer of the North. It's pretty good!

39Morphidae
toukokuu 3, 2020, 5:03pm

Hmm, maybe I'll put the series back in rotation.

40humouress
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 4, 2020, 4:38am

I’ve finished and reviewed The Icebound Land. I’m trying to race through the series so I can pass on the books to firelion because he’s pining for something to read. I doubt he’ll appreciate the effort though since he borrowed them from the school library last year.

Eta: I assume everyone has already read up to here. What did you think of Will becoming addicted to warmweed and it being a book recommended for ages 10+? In my case, the ship has sailed anyway and firelion didn’t mention it to me. I suppose he’s already aware that such things exist in the world as much as I want to protect my kids from knowing about them.

41humouress
toukokuu 9, 2020, 4:44am

I’ve just finished Oakleaf Bearers (aka The Battle for Skandia) which is book four. Book five is The Sorcerer in the North but there’s a note after the blurb in my book that says:

Ranger’s Apprentice book 7: Erak’s Ransom takes place before the events of books 5 and 6. You might like to read book 7 first.

So, for folks who have got that far, do you recommend that I read book 5 or book 7 next? I’m a girl who likes to read series in order so I can follow the time line - but now I’m confused 😐

42FAMeulstee
toukokuu 9, 2020, 7:44am

>41 humouress: I have done both ways. I liked it better reading book 7 first.

43humouress
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 10, 2020, 12:01am

>42 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita. I think I'll do it that way; I read the synopses of the books in the series and it makes sense to read 7 first.

44FAMeulstee
toukokuu 11, 2020, 4:35pm

>43 humouress: Have fun reading Erak's Ransom, Nina, and be sure to have book 6 ready when you start reading book 5 :-)

45humouress
toukokuu 11, 2020, 11:37pm

>44 FAMeulstee: Thanks for the tip Anita. We have two copies of books 6, fortunately - but no book 8 :0/

46humouress
toukokuu 7, 12:01am

{Seventh published of 11 (or 12); Ranger’s Apprentice series. Fantasy, children’s, YA} (2007)
Group read.

I started reading this but then paused it to finish some library e-books before returning to it so my reading was a bit fragmented. I read it before the books numbered 5 and 6 in the series, per the author's recommendation, as events in this book take place before those in the other two.

The story opens with Will's imminent graduation to full Ranger status and Halt's surprising upcoming wedding. However as the festivities are concluded news comes of Erak's capture. Erak is the Oberjarl of the Skandians, erstwhile enemies of Araluan but now allies since the signing of a treaty. Will, Halt and friends travel to the desert country of Arrida to ransom him taking the princess with them as negotiator. But nothing is as simple as that and adventures ensue.

There was a risk involved in coming so close to the shoreline, he knew. But it was the lesser of two risks. They'd kept a steady south-east course through the night, driven by the unwavering northerly breeze that blew towards the coast at this time of year. Borne along by the wind, Erak had sailed in close to the land, inside a huge bay that took a bite out of the coastline. On the eastern end of the bay, on a raised promontory, stood the township of Al Shabah. By placing his ship inside the bay, and inland of the spot where the town stood, Erak knew that he would be screened by the dark land mass behind him. Also, as the sun slowly rose, which it would be doing in about another forty minutes, his ship would still be in darkness, while the promontory and town, to the east of his position, would be illuminated. He could have turned towards Al Shabah while they were still further out to sea, avoiding the risk of being spotted from the coast. But that would have increased the risk of being seen from the town itself. Even by night, Wolfwind would have been a darker shadow on the steely grey surface of the sea.


Flanagan writes well; he does good action scenes that don't go on forever and I like his banter, which amuses and doesn't seem forced. The characters in this fantasy world, which parallels ours, are believable - not too perfect or too angsty. My eleven year old is also reading this series and enjoying it; it is a good one for children and doesn't talk down to them. The characters do go through hardships and, since they become involved in battles, there is some killing and some deaths but I don't feel that these are traumatic for readers while still keeping the story realistic.

Worth reading, even for adults.

4.5 stars

47FAMeulstee
toukokuu 7, 3:52am

>46 humouress: Glad you finally got to Erak's Ransom, Nina.

I just finished the latest The Missing Prince (book 15). I should have waited until the next was published, as it ends on a cliffhanger again. So I have to wait at least a year...

48humouress
toukokuu 8, 12:02am

>47 FAMeulstee: I’ll keep that in mind if/ when I get there, Anita. Mind you, it will probably have been published by then :0)

49humouress
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 31, 10:28am

39) The Sorcerer in the North by John Flanagan



{Fifth published/ sixth chronologically of 11 (or 12); Ranger’s Apprentice series. Fantasy, children’s, YA} (2006)
Group read.

This is labelled book 5 in the series but the story follows on from events in book 7 (Erak's Ransom), when Will graduated from Ranger's Apprentice to fully fledged Ranger. Now aged around twenty, Will gets his first Ranger's posting, the fief of Seacliff in the west and along the way rescues a dog. The well-meaning lord and his Battle master try to assert their authority but Will knows that Rangers answer to the crown. Despite carrying out his duties, he is called back on a secret mission - there is apparently a sorcerer in the north, near the castle of Macindaw in Norgate fief which guards Araluen's boundary with the land of Picta, home of the Scotti.

But, apart from the superstitious, people in this world don't believe in magic and the Rangers need to investigate what is happening in this crucial defensive fief. However, there is a Ranger already in the fief but - since Rangers themselves cultivate a superstitious mystique about themselves and are regarded with awe - he cannot investigate so another Ranger has to go in undercover. Cue Will the jongleur, playing his mandola. It's not a lute because a lute has ten strings whereas a mandola has eight which are ... never mind.

His old friend Alyss, who is a Courier/ a member of the Diplomatic Service, is also brought into play undercover as his contact agent but then they both find themselves in danger.

I will admit that in the second half of the book I kept glancing ahead (something I deplore - but I managed to resist turning the page too early) because I was on tenterhooks and I was hoping at the character 'don't do that, don't do that'.

As always, I like Flanagan's writing. He keeps it clean and not too simple, his characters show intelligence and he doesn't talk down to his audience.
The long grass shivered once more. It was only a faint movement but there was no wind to cause it - as the hanging clouds of steam from the horses‘ breath clearly showed.
Will is growing up - although I felt, at times, that he nearly gave in to anger which was uncharacteristic of him. There is still some of the banter from previous books but the general tone is slightly more serious.
But, along with the other skills of a Ranger, he had learned patience. As he sat and waited for his superiors to broach the subject, he felt Halt‘s approving eye on him from time to time as his former teacher assessed this new-found quality. Will looked up once, caught Halt's eyes on him and allowed a grin to touch his features. He was pleased that he was able to demonstrate his forbearance.
Finally, Halt shifted his seat on the hard ground and said in an exasperated tone, 'Oh, all right, Crowley! Let's get on with it, for God's sake!'
The Corps Commandant smiled delightedly at his friend. 'I thought we were testing Will's patience here, not yours,' he said. Halt made an annoyed gesture.
'Well, consider his patience tested.'
There is a little bit of mild cursing (but, I'm embarrassed to admit, my kids use stronger language).

I've always liked Tug, Will's small Ranger horse, and I like the addition of the dog - Araluen's equivalent of a border collie. He's trained her well in the short time that he's had her and I hope she sticks around - although he still hasn't named her by the end of the book and there are signs that she's falling in love with another human.

I think the message behind this story is 'don't judge a book by its cover'.
'Look at them,' he said. 'Are they human?' ...
One at least was huge - he must have been two and a half metres tall and massive across the chest and shoulders. ...
The pallid-skinned giant had begun to advance across the clearing towards them, one ponderous step at a time. ...
The frown disappeared from the huge creature's face and he went down on one knee, one massive hand out to the dog. ...
'You know, I think he's quite harmless. Thank God you didn't shoot him.'

Be warned; have book 6 (The Siege of Macindaw) to hand because this book ends on a cliff-hanger (almost literally)!
He tugged on his gloves and seized the tied-off end of the rope with his left hand about half a metre above his head, using his right to belay the loose end against his hip.
Alyss's stomach heaved as Will let himself fall backwards into space, controlling his fall with the loop of rope running around his body, fending off from the wall with his feet.


4.5 stars

Litsy notes

-Will‘s first posting as a Ranger. This is book 5 but follows after events in book 7 when he got his silver badge to symbolise his graduating from Ranger‘s Apprentice.

-‘The long grass shivered once more. It was only a faint movement but there was no wind to cause it - as the hanging clouds of steam from the horses‘ breath clearly showed.‘

This is why I think Flanagan is such a good YA author. His characters show intelligence and he doesn‘t talk down to his audience.

-Will has matured as a Ranger:
But, along with the other skills of a Ranger, he had learned patience. As he sat and waited for his superiors to broach the subject, he felt Halt‘s approving eye on him from time to time as his former teacher assessed this new-found quality. Will looked up once, caught Halt's eyes on him and allowed a grin to touch his features. He was pleased that he was able to demonstrate his forbearance.
Finally, Halt shifted his seat on the hard ground and said in an exasperated tone, 'Oh, all right, Crowley! Let's get on with it, for God's sake!'
The Corps Commandant smiled delightedly at his friend. 'I thought we were testing Will's patience here, not yours,' he said. Halt made an annoyed gesture.
'Well, consider his patience tested.'

-Cliff-hanger, almost literally. Have ‘The Siege of Macindaw‘ ready to go ...
He tugged on his gloves and seized the tied-off end of the rope with his left hand about half a metre above his head, using his right to belay the loose end against his hip.
Alyss's stomach heaved as Will let himself fall backwards into space, controlling his fall with the loop of rope running around his body, fending off from the wall with his feet.

50The_Hibernator
syyskuu 6, 11:55am

I'm about to read The Siege of Macindaw. Where's everyone else? I should have moved this thread to the new year last year, let alone this year, lol.

51humouress
syyskuu 6, 12:01pm

I read The Siege of Macindaw at the end of July and now I have to look for the eighth book (the only one we don't have. Yet). This is my review:

The Siege of Macindaw by John Flanagan



{Sixth published/ seventh chronologically of 11 (or 12); Ranger’s Apprentice series. Fantasy, children’s, YA} (2007)
Group read.

Will, having had to leave Alyss trapped in a tower inside Castle Macindaw, is now desperate to rescue her as well as foil the plans of the traitor holding the castle. Luckily he finds unexpected and somewhat unusual allies, although they are still all outnumbered, and they plan to take the castle back to prevent it falling into the hands of Scotti invaders coming over the border from Picta because otherwise it would leave the whole of Norgate Fief open to their raids and weaken the kingdom of Araluen. And Alyss, a trained diplomat and Royal Courier, is no damsel in distress but contributes too, getting vital information about the enemy out to them as she can.

While most books in this series (so far) can be read as stand-alones - although they follow the overall story arc of Will’s apprenticeship as he grows up to become a Ranger - this book is the second part of the story that was begun in The Sorcerer in the North and should be read after it. Will is now a full fledged Ranger and is on his first solo mission, which was given to him in the previous book.

The tone of the book is a bit more serious than previous instalments although Will and Horace still bicker away (while recognising that sometimes their friend is covering for nerves). The friends, Alyss, Horace and Will, are now all around sixteen years old. As Flanagan’s characters are getting older and, presumably, so is his target audience, he’s introducing some (mild) swearing.
And illogically, right on the heels of a sudden rush of relief, Horace felt his anger welling up.
'His blood? Why didn't you say so? I was frantic here, thinking you were bleeding like a stuck pig!'
'When did you give me a chance?' Will said, 'You were all over me, grabbing at me, turning me this way and that!'
The anger, of course, was nothing more than reaction to the shock and fear they had both felt. But it was no less real for all that.
'I'm sorry!' Horace snapped back. 'Forgive me for being concerned about you. It won't happen again!'
'Well, if you'd got here a little sooner, there wouldn't have been a problem,' Will retorted quickly. 'Where the hell were you, anyway?'
'Where the hell was I? Where the hell were you? Is this the thanks I get for saving your life? Because let me tell you, it didn't look as if you were having the best of it with our friend here.'
He nudged the unconscious MacHaddish with the toe of his boot. The Scotti general made no sound. But Will had the grace to look suddenly chastened as he realised his friend was right.
'I'm sorry, Horace. You're right. You saved my life and I'm grateful.'
'Well ...' Now it was Horace's turn to shuffle his feet uneasily. He knew the reason for Will's apparent anger. He had seen it in many soldiers who had come close to death and he knew Will hadn't meant to be ungracious. 'That's okay. Think nothing of it.'
I’m always impressed with Flanagan’s fight scenes which are described well enough for me to follow them and for them to make sense without getting bogged down in the detail.

There are oblique references to the previous adventure (Erak’s Ransom) and the next one (The Kings of Clonmel) but I think it’s just to position this story within the timeline. Another good instalment in the series.

3.5-4 stars

Litsy notes

Will, now a Ranger and an expert archer, is using the cover name ‘Will Barton’. Coincidentally similar to the archer’s name in the MCU Avenger films.

As Flanagan’s characters are getting older (Will is now a full Ranger and on his first solo mission) and, presumably, his target audience, he’s introducing some (mild) swearing.

Flanagan’s fight scenes are well written and believable. (I say this with great expertise as a veteran of no battles whatsoever, though.)

Horace, and therefore Will and Alyss, are now 16