The medieval times conjure images of knights and ladies, fantastical beasts and wizards, archers and kings, and stories of gallant gentlemen rescuing princesses. “The Ranger’s Apprentice” by John Flanagan is a fantasy book set in the medieval times with interesting characters like knights, wizards, vikings, kings, and even the rangers, a mysterious group of people who perform reconnaissance missions requiring heavy stealth in the Araluen Kingdom. In this series, Will, a skinny young man, aspires to be a knight because his father was regarded as a war hero. Unfortunately for Will, his father passed away when Will was young and was raised in an orphanage. As Will and his fellow orphans come of age, they must choose a profession to learn and master. In order to do this, each person must be chosen by a professional and trained as an apprentice in the subject.
Although Will wants to be a warrior, he is unexpectedly chosen by the most mysterious professional: Halt. Halt is a renowned ranger who helped lead the Araluen Kingdom to victory with his various skills in espionage. At first, Will has a hard time accepting that he must become a ranger. But as time progresses, Will succumbs to his profession and becomes a legendary figure in his own right, in different ways than he had hoped.
What makes this series so exceptional is Flanagan’s ability to raise tension to an amazing resolution. I found the setting realistic and entertaining, as the plot includes intriguing war scenes and well-developed characters, strongly portrayed by Will and his colleagues as they mature. The fantasy and sense of anticipation the book conveyed absolutely captivated me. One of my favorite examples of this is when the powerful beasts, called the Kalkara, rise from the ruins of Gorlan in response to the evil wizard Morgarath call. I could even imagine the fear experienced by the rangers, who were tasked with killing the terrifying monsters. I also liked how they resolved the problem and used their intelligence to defeat the beasts.
My only regret when I was reading this book series was that not all the books were published at the time so I had to wait for all the installations. Although this wait required patience, it was definitely worth it as each book refreshed my willingness to wait for the next book with entertaining characters and amazing schemes and fights thought up by Flanagan. This series was among my top favorites for its ability to tell stories in a believable fashion while combining it with fantastical and almost supernatural abilities that some characters possessed.
Overall, the series received a rating of 4.21 stars and above on Goodreads and has won multiple awards, such as the Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults award in 2012. The book was well received, with rights to sell the book going to 16 countries. By 2010, over 2 million copies had been sold.