Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Royal Ranger (Ranger's Apprentice #12) by John Flanagan

An entertaining conclusion that comes full circle from the first book. Flanagan sticks to his usual formula of dry humor in the adult characters and a protagonist that grows up while facing dangers. While this story's pacing slows a bit in the middle because of the focus on training an apprentice, it picks up with an exciting ending. About 17 years has passed and Will Treaty is now middle-aged. Many of the characters from previous books have died or are dying. Others are doing well in old-age and have found happiness with a partner. Will has had a tragedy in his life that has left him grieving and unable to move on in life. When Halt comes up with a crazy plan for Will to apprentice the first girl Ranger, it's a challenge Will can't resist. It also helps him love someone again and begin healing from his own personal loss.

Flanagan creates strong female characters with flaws. Some might feel its slow as this girl Ranger grows up and makes mistakes while learning from them and changing. This part of the story which involves her training doesn't have as much action found in other Ranger Apprentice stories but I enjoyed the character development. It's Flanagan. I know the action will come on full force eventually. And it does. Will isn't as crotchety as Halt so there is less of a dynamic between the two, but Will is his own person and a good teacher. Will never got Halt's jokes in the previous novels but in this one he does get the girls. I kept waiting for that oddball humor to show up but it didn't. The horse humor does though. They are still talking to their anthropomorphic horses. I did laugh when Will got irritated with the girl for correcting him at times. Hmmm... imagine that... adults getting exasperated with kids. All-in-all good fun.

When the girl Ranger makes her first kill she is shocked and Flanagan shows this quite well. Then when she makes the second kill she isn't shocked at all and is glad her victim is dead. This didn't jive with the first reaction and I wondered how she hardened so quickly. I do think Flanagan does a nice job showing how a girl has to adapt to the physical differences of being a Ranger. She isn't going to be able to string a huge bow and must find a weapon that works for someone small and less muscular. She's quick and smart and it is these qualities that make her good. I did think it odd that she fell asleep in the middle of a battle. Wouldn't she have gone after Will right away? Or maybe that was showing she was a kid and not really a seasoned warrior. The series begins in book one with a boy apprentice who wants to be a knight but is too small and becomes a Ranger or spy. This last book comes full circle and has that same boy training the first girl Ranger. A nice ending to a fun series.

3 Smileys

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