Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

It is Choosing Day and Will desperately wants to be accepted into Battleschool to become a warrior. An orphan, Will was raised as a ward of the Baron Arald's fiefdom. Will's mother died in childbirth and Will only knows that his Dad died as a war hero in the Battle of Morgarath. He doesn't know the details but he wants to honor his father's memory by following in his footsteps to become a warrior.

Choosing Day is when the wards of the castle are chosen as apprentices into a craft they want to learn. Will's dream of being accepted into Battleschool is dashed when he is deemed too small. When his rival, Horace, is chosen, Will is devastated and afraid he will be sent to a farm as labor. When a mysterious Ranger named Halt, shows up to take him on as an apprentice, Will is uncertain about this profession that is said to use black magic.

As Halt trains Will he learns that the Rangers provided secret itelligence to those running the country and help enforce laws. He's trained with the Ranger's weapons of bows, knives, uniquely trained horses, and stealth. Will and Horace fight until faced with a life and death situation forcing the boys to either be friends or enemies. As the kingdom comes under attack, Will helps Halt hunt down two monsters of the dark who are killing leaders of the country.

The strength of the story is the great character development, dialogue, and tension. The third person narration offers multiple viewpoints from adults to youth that adds humor and wit to the storyline. Old Bob is particularly funny. He skips the beginning of most consonsants saying words like "'e" instead of "he" and has a braying laugh. Tension is created as the two adults running Battleschool are excited by Horace's natural swordsmanship but they don't tell him because they don't want to give him a big head. Horace and Will go through internal changes as they decide whether or not to embrace their apprenticeships. The plot has some interesting twists especially at the end.

This is the first of 10 books in a series. An 11th book is still in the works and will be set 20 years into the future. The series is fun and full of action. Be aware that the adults use the word "damn" about half a dozen times mainly when referring to the monsters as "damn things." It is mostly at the end of the book and a rare moment where the characters voices started to sound the same. It's not very noticeable. This is the second time I've read the book and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time.

Reading Level 5.8

4 out of 5 Smileys

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