The Ruins of Gorlan
Ranger’s Apprentice: Book 1
Author: John Flanagan
My Rating: 5 stars
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 about 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. . . .
Ah yes! The first book of the well-known Ranger’s Apprentice series! I remember when I had seen and heard of this book everywhere, but never read it. Then, one day, I found a small, oddly printed copy at a local book sale, and decided to pick it up. I’m telling you, I read this book in probably a day when I started it!
Okay, let’s get into this with the good thoughts first!
So much of this book I love! I think the greatest thing that sticks out at me through this whole series is the characters. They are by far my favorite aspect of the Ranger’s Apprentice series. Each character has a distinct personality, a backstory, and a motivation for what they do and how they act. The relationships with the characters are even greater! The little exchanges of dialogue they have really round them out and allow me to relate to them so much better than many characters in stories I’ve read.
Speaking of the dialogue, the jokes, sarcasm, and unique character voices make me smile and laugh all the way through. It allows a realistic comic relief into the story in an awesome way.
Okay, onto more serious matters. Let’s discuss the plot. Ruins of Gorlan, while extremely entertaining, could be called a little slow. The plot isn’t fast-paced in any way. However, what I think justifies this is the way John Flanagan explores the world of Araluen, as well as the secret world of the rangers. It sets up everything we need to continue the series, in an extremely interesting way. It follows the main characters around, expands their characters, and gives us a lot of important information without info-dumping, which I really appreciate.
Now, even though the majority of the first book isn’t action-packed or edge-of-your-seat tense, the ending is completely different. John Flanagan wraps up the first book by giving us an extremely exciting climax, where Will is sent into his first look at battle. Of course, I don’t want to say any more lest I give everything away, but let me just tell you–the climax of this book is PAGE-TURNING.
Negative thoughts on this book:
While there aren’t many things I can say I didn’t enjoy about the book, I can still find a couple to point out. The first being the story cliches. Will, alas, is an orphan. This does set up the story well, but it also is a pretty heavily used plot crutch, and it makes me cringe a little inside every time the main character is an orphan. Also, the whole dark-lord thing has been used many times. I’m always open to more dark lords in fantasy, but at least try to come up with a unique twist to the villain! Morgarath, unfortunately, plays a very Sauron-like role in this story, and there isn’t anything to say that he’s different from every other dark lord we’ve seen.
To justify these cliches, John Flanagan explains more of Will’s backstory, as well as explores Morgarath, in future stories, thus making them a little less cringe-worthy. Nonetheless, they still are some heavily used cliches.
The last thing I might add is that there are a handful of bad words in this story. While minor, it did make me frown. Honestly, they didn’t even need to be in here, which makes me sad that he added them.
However, these flaws don’t hold the story back from shining through, and allowing it to be an engaging, fun, page-turning read, which I would highly suggest to anyone interested in the non-magical fantasy genre! Incredible book, and an incredible series overall!
If you’re interested in this book, here is the link to it on Amazon!
I hope you all enjoyed this review. If you have any ideas for books for me to review, I’d love to hear them!
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