Monday, February 16, 2015

YA Book Pick: The Ruins of Gorlan (The Ranger's Apperentice)

The Ranger's Apperentice

Once a month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review.  We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors.

This month's book pick is The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan.  While not a new book this season, it is the first book in a long line of a series designed to create an interest in reading among boys. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  They have always scared him in the past - the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways.  The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people.  And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice.  What he doesn't yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the Kingdom.  Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people.  And as Will is to learn, there is a large battle brewing.  The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom.  This time, he will not be denied. . .

Highlights: Mitchell and I read this book over four years ago and have been reading slowly through the series.  His books are part of what inspired us to write.  His later books are even better than his first.  Flanagan started writing the book to help inspire his son to read and ended up helping an entire generation of boys to want to read and write.  Part of what makes the series so compelling is the bonds that he has created among his characters.  The loyal relationships Will has with his mentor, Halt, his horse, Tug, and his best friend, Horace endures the reader to Will.  He is intelligent and skilled, but he still seeks counsel from his trusted companions.  In short, he is a charming and likeable character.

Notes for Writers: We love Flanagan's use of language and his vivid imagery.  The hiss-thud of Will's arrows is one of my all time favorite lines.  In addition, he provides rich description to life based on a made-up medieval world.  His characters are believable and likeable complete with both flaws and attributes. Best of all though is that his books have high action to captivate boy readers attention and have great pacing to keep their interest.

A good read for: boys between the ages of twelve to twenty (possibly younger if parents allow), for those who enjoy medieval fiction or high fantasy, or anyone who enjoys high adventure. 

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