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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 7 February 2009
A word of warning for those planning on buying other books in the series. There are different covers, and different titles, for some of this series, depending on which country the book is being published in. "The Battle for Skandia", for example, is the same as "The Oakleaf Bearers" and this is not made clear enough on the Amazon site. Beware. Have a look at John Flanagan's own web site if you get confused. HOWEVER, this is a superb book. The whole series is superb. I most certainly no longer qualify as a young adult, let alone a child, but I have read them myself, my 11 year old has read them and we are now re-reading them out loud. In this book we are introduced to Will, desperate to become a knight but selected for the Rangers'Corps, as apprentice to Halt and is the tale of his initial training, his relationship with Halt and Horace and a marvellous battle. Flanagan's writing, particularly when you think these books are aimed at those in the 10-15 age group, is beautiful. He is not afraid to use words which will broaden any youngster's (and a few adults') language skills yet the meaning is always inherent in the passage. One of two reviewers have commented that the story may not be the most original in the world (are any of them any more?) but do not let this put you off. I would have to disagree with the reviewer who says they are very light: they are, yes, in that the plot is not wildly complicated but the use of language lifts it above others and gives it greater depth. Do give this a go. I am very happy to be disagreed with!
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on 6 August 2007
A quick and light read.
Being a bit quick ordering my last batch of books from amazon, I bought this solely on the positive review on this page, and was a bit shocked when I received it. It's an young adult book, meant for ages 10-15, which I don't think this page very clearly convey's.
Other than that, it's a well written book, not terribly original but with enough twist to make it exciting. Finished it in an afternoon while sunbathing, should be a quick an easy read for kids and first timers to fantasy. I would not compare this to Tolkien or Potter, it's more like Timothy Zahn's Dragonback adventures for young adults.
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VINE VOICEon 11 October 2007
I'm in my early 30s and I loved this book. Yes, it is theoretically aimed at children, but so what? So are Harry Potter and Eragon and look at how many adults are reading those. This book is a damned good read as are many so-called children's books which have a lot of imagination put into them.
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on 22 October 2007
Unlike the review which only gave this book 1 star I have actually read the book! I only bought it this morning and already finished it, whixh in itself must tell you something! I thought it was an excellent page turner for adults and children alike (- i read a lot of children's books as i am a primary teacher and am always on the look out for the next class novel). It has a fast plot and a main character that you can emphathise with, to the point in which you are caught up in Will's world!
I will be reading on with this series. Give it a try!
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on 13 April 2011
I was introduced to John Flanagan and the Ranger's Apprentice series when I was given a hardback copy of book 9, which really drew me in and so I went out and bought books 1 to 6 (As those are the only ones released so far in paperback, and the shop I went to in the states didn't have the hardbacks). I lost more than few night's of sleep reading them, finding myself unable to put them down. As someone in his late 40's, I found these books great losing myself into the fantasy of the story. Although supposedly written for the teenage market, if you're someone who loves to escape from reality into a fantasy world then these books are for you. I won't try to compare them to any other fantasy books, I just find them every bit as enthralling in their own right as other fantasy books available out there.

To help clear up some confusion of the books available, the titles and differences I have compiled a list below, it's a bit long but I hope it helps.

1. Book 1 The Ruins Of Gorlan In both Hard and Paperback
The USA paperback version I have is exactly same cover graphics, but the title although the same is slightly higher than the one here on the UK Amazon and has a round seal type graphic below the title with "includes exclusive preview of Book 6 The Siege Of Macindaw" so obviously a later print release version after book 6 was written. The UK Amazon version has a yellow Castle battlements type graphics Label with the words "Special Limited Offer $4.99" so obviously a US Import from a previous print edition.

2. Book 2 The Burning Bridge In both Hard and Paperback
Again I have the USA paperback version, the cover is a different picture than the UK Amazon version however both versions are available here on the UK Amazon, The titles are the same. (The USA cover is nicer in my opinion and is actually cheaper from a market place seller than Amazon's price or the UK version).

3. Book 3 The Icebound Land In both Hard and Paperback
Again I have the USA paperback version, the cover is a different picture than the UK Amazon version. The titles are the same though. I cannot see the USA version I have on the UK Amazon.

4. Book 4 The Battle For Skandia In both Hard and Paperback
Again I have the USA paperback version, The title and the cover picture are exactly the same as the one here on the UK Amazon.

To add confusion to the book list's there is another book proposed to be Book 4 of the Ranger's Apprentice series called "Oakleaf Bearers". The product description of it here on Amazon sounds exactly the same story line as the book I have (and also on Amazon) entitled "Battle For Skandia" why though I have no idea

5. Book 5 The Sorcerer In The North / The Sorcerer Of The North In both Hard and Paperback
The UK Amazon has two version of book 5, the exact same paperback as I have from the USA of which is titled " The Sorcerer Of The North", where as the other version is a totally different cover and is called "The Sorcerer In The North".

6. Book 6 The Siege Of Macindaw In both Hard and Paperback
Again I have the USA paperback version, the cover is a different picture than the UK Amazon version. The titles are the same though. I cannot see the USA version I have on the UK Amazon.

7. Book 7 Erak's Ransom Only in Hardback, Paperback Release 15 Nov 2011
Having bought all previous books in paperback I'm waiting for the paperback release which is on a pre-order basis for release in November 2011 so can't comment on cover graphics or title changes, However my book 6 shows the cover of book 7 to be in keeping with my other USA bought paperbacks style and the same as the Hardback of book 7 available now here on Amazon.

8. Book 8 King's Of Clonmel Only in Hardback, Paperback Release 15 Nov 2011
Again waiting for the paperback, also to be released in November 2011 but again the Hardbacks cover is as before in keeping with my other paperbacks. The hardback is available now.

There is a book available here on Amazon entitled "King's Of Clonmel", it doesn't state if it's a hardback or paperback but my research, seems to point to the fact that's this book was released in John Flanagan's home country of Australia way back in 2008 for the Australian book market. There are only used copies available.

9. Book 9 Halt's Peril Only in Hardback, Paperback Release TBD
I have this book in hardback (I will get in paperback when it's released just to keep continuity with my other paperbacks), it was given to me by a friend in the states and was the book that introduced me to the Ranger's Apprentice series. Amazon are listing it as Rangers Apprentice Book 9, but the Ranger's Apprentice is the series title, the book 9's title is "Halt's Peril".

10. Book 10 The Emperor Of Nihon-Ja Hardback to be released in April 2011, Paperback
Release TBD
All I can say the hardback image for this book on Amazon is in keeping with my other paperbacks, what the released version of the paperback is going to be like isn't know yet, this is the same for book 9, I will though get my paperback versions for the states no doubt.

My final observations is the book Titled The Ranger Apprentice's Collection, This book has the same cover graphics as my book 1 with the exclusion of book 1's title and the addition of a border and the inclusion of the word "collection". From another reviewer entry it appears this collection is the first three books released, book's 1 to 3.
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There are very good reasons why this is such a well-reviewed and highly-recommended series. Sure, there is a touch of magic, and a bit of a medieval flavor. And sure, there are some battle tales and fight scenes. But, the main thrust of the story is the training of our bright and deserving hero. And, the training is not in some gaudy knightly skills, or outrageous dragon flying. Rather, Will is trained in woodcraft, subtlety, stealth, observation and, in a sense, honor, duty and loyalty.

There is no existential angst here, and no political or moral agenda. Rather, this is a tale by which, without sappiness, courage is recognized, injustice is punished, wrongs are righted, and truth will out. The characters for the most part have some depth and some charm. The plot is not entirely predictable. The suspense is balanced, and outcomes are plausible and satisfying. The characters are not ironic, and the author is playing it straight with, not winking at, his readers. Along with the Sorcerer's Appentice series, (by Delaney), which has a slightly different premise but very similar approach, I can't think of a better introductory series for a young reader.
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on 4 July 2014
This is book 1 of 11 so far and so, much of this one is focusing on introducing you to the main characters. This is not a negative thing as there is still lots going on and is a great coming of age plot line. Although most of the book is in Will's (the main young hero) point of view there are a few chapters told from some the other characters view. This is a great way to show you Will in another light.

I have the next 2 in the series which I will be reading next and hoping to enjoy as much as this one. My 2 boys aren't old enough for these yet but I will be recommending them to them soon as I think this is a great book for teenagers.
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on 22 August 2012
The Ruins of Gorlan is the first novel in the Ranger's Apprentice series. It's a pseudo-medieval adventure with a light touch of fantasy.

Will is a ward of Castle Redmont. At the beginning of the story he is nervous about Choosing Day because he must join a craft. His desperate desire is to be a knight like he imagines his father to have been and join Castle Redmont Battleschool. But Will is small and isn't muscular like Horace a fellow ward. Horace has been teasing Will about his size and there is no doubt that Horace will be granted his wish by Sir Rodney and Baron Arald. But it won't surprise you to learn that Will does not become an Apprentice Knight, but an Apprentice Ranger. The Rangers are feared by the villagers and Castle residents. They believe them to be supernatural and Will isn't entirely sure this is true but he isn't entirely convinced it's nonsense either.

The position of Ranger's Apprentice is not simply gifted to Will, he earns it through his actions. Not just anyone can be a Ranger's Apprentice - they must be inquisitive and resourceful, stealthy and brave. The Rangers are the kingdom's intelligence force and their actions saved the day in the war against Morgarath fifteen years ago. Will has great challenges ahead of him. This novel is a mythical beginning of something like MI5. Very cool!

I really loved the action in this story. The archery and the battle scenes were full of tension and I was compelled to keep turning pages. The characterisation of both Will and Horace was excellent. Creating two boys who sound so different is a real talent and I really admired the author's ability to do this. I really cared about the future of both boys and was constantly afraid that Horace would not survive his tormentors at the Battleschool.

There were, however, several things about this book that annoyed me. The first was the portrayal of the roles of men and women in this society. Yes, it is a medieval setting but it's a semi-fantastical one and I felt the author could have given women more dynamic roles than "diplomats" and "cooks". I didn't like the way he generalised the temperament of women. My second frustration was the opening and the high level of "telling" rather than "showing". The book would have benefited from more dialogue interspersed throughout the long paragraphs of description/ action. My third and final frustration was the viewpoint. I had no trouble moving between following Will and Horace in the third person (the swap was infrequent) but I didn't like the omniscient narrative. I would have preferred to see the story through the boys' eyes and not the authors.

Despite these reservations, I did enjoy this book and have no doubt whatsoever that boys will also love reading it. There is sword fighting, mindless monsters and daring missions. Why wouldn't they love it? But let's not forget that girls can be Rangers too. And if they can't in the author's mind, then is this really the sort of novel we want children to be reading in 2012?

Recommended for fans of:

· The Spook's Apprentice by Joseph Delany

· The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland
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In the modern world, too often are we made to feel inadequate and as such we end up thinking that we're too small, to weak and unwanted enough to be able to effect change. For a young reader this is something that needs to be corrected and as such this title by John Flanagan demonstrates wonderfully that you don't have to be the biggest guy in the pack to help make a difference or the strongest and that thought can a lot of the time out do brute force.

Add to this a wonderful story that takes the young reader on a fantasy journey as an apprentice learns the trade of the Ranger and discovers friendships can last and be forged despite the start that you have in life. It's clever, it's got great courage and fully supports the positive mental attitude that we all wish we could instil. Finally add to this a huge story arc, cracking characters that the reader will love to hang around and it's a tale that will have the reader demanding more. Great stuff.
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on 31 March 2012
Read review at Mostly Reading YA: [...]

I have a soft spot for fantasy-adventure books and Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan did not disappoint me. Fantasy-adventure books are always popular, especially with 9-12 year olds, and the premise might not be completely original as a young, orphan boy becomes the apprentice to a grimfaced, stoic professional and must prove his worth but there is something special about this book.

The story is quick, with lots of short chapters, and you are never left feeling lost or confused in the huge world that John Flanagan sets up. At times there might be a tad too much info-dumping but this is made up for with the near constant action. Will is always doing something, whether it be sneaking around the castle, fighting with his ward-mate Gordon or training hard to become a good Ranger and so he is a great character to follow. The narrative jumps from person to person and at times can be a little confusing but each character has a clear voice of their own so this happens very rarely. Every character is unique and I found myself really enjoying their interactions with each other and with Will. I also liked that you see the others characters own stories progress because secondary characters are often forgotten about and seen as less important. Will is clearly the main character, but you can tell that John Flanagan cares about them all.

Will did not strike me as fifteen years old from the beginning, though that may because of his description beside his ward-mates as being smaller. For some reason it stuck in my head that he was a little younger but as I carried on reading his voice and mannerisms did lend to an older character as the story progressed. I found myself really liking Will, he isn't the strongest or the most clever and so he is easily relatable. John Flanagan wanted to create a character that his son would relate to, who was a small twelve year old boy at the time, and I love that he created a character who isn't perfect and at times gets things wrong and is afraid because it is much more realistic. I wanted Will to succeed and most of all I wanted to see what he could do next.

The setting of the book is fantastic and well handled. With such a large world it can be overwhelming for a reader but John Flanagan ensures that you know exactly the right amount of information to understand what is happening and why without overloading you too much. At times it felt a little bit like it had been shoe-horned in but otherwise it was great. The history and the landscape is detailed and absorbing, and the threat of danger to come is fantastic. The prologue does a great job of filling you in on the past so that you can fully understand the threat hanging over the Kingdom, and there are even little character profiles, a description of what it takes to be a Ranger and a map of the Kingdom too which I loved because it makes the book feel whole and also is great to reference if you do get at all confused, though I doubt you would.

The only part of the book I did not enjoy was one scene where Gordon, who has been badly bullied physically and mentally by a group of boys, is allowed to retaliate and even Halt, the Ranger, gives him a bit of a hand in beating them up. It irked me because I wanted Gordon to be better than those boys and I felt that he had sunk to their level. I also disliked the idea of even slightly giving the message to readers that it's okay to beat someone up if they did it to you first. I am sure that John Flanagan chose to do handle the scene this way for a reason and I imagine that many readers would find it a very satisfying way to deal with the problem, and probably fulfil a few fantasies too.

Overall I loved Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan. It is fast paced, action packed and gripping. I found it very difficult to put down because I really wanted to know what would happen next. I know that this is an incredibly popular series and it is clear why. Although some seasoned fantasy buffs won't be impressed I am sure that younger readers will be really impressed. I just hope that the rest of the books in the series are just as good, if not better!
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