The Lost Stories

11742414The Lost Stories
Ranger’s Apprentice #11
by John Flanagan
Ebook, 352 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

John Flanagan did a great job with this book. Sometimes a collection of short stories will just fall flat and leave you feeling bleh. Not this one though.

Flanagan packed each story chock full of what I’ve come to expect from the RA Series-adventure, fun, a tiny bit of mystery and suspense and a good ending.

I was a little confused at the first, with the whole archeological thing, but it quickly made sense. Just the first couple of pages made me wonder if I’d gotten a bad ebook or something.

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja


The Emperor of Nihon-Ja
Ranger’s Apprentice #10
by John Flanagan
Ebook, 438 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a great book. I don’t know if it is the last Ranger’s Apprentice or not, but if it is, it ends on a very good note.

We basically get a taste of Japanese culture here. In some ways, greco-roman military themes and japanese samurai/bushido ideals were simplified to the point of losing what made each great, but it had to be done to appeal to a YA audience and so that the plot could advance. This is a novel after all, not a comparative on military types.

This is where Flanagan should end this series. It is on a high note and will leave a good taste in the readers mouth. I could see him starting another series following the further adventures of Will and Horace and wives, or a different YA series where Will and Horace have moved into the place that Halt occupied in The Ruins of Gorlan.

Either way, this whole series was fantastic. For those leery of magic, but wanting a relatively gore-free medieval read, this is it. Sadly, profanity started creeping in in the last few books, so I suggest a review if you are wondering about these for your kids.

Kings of Clonmel

KINGS OF CLONMEL
Ranger’s Apprentice #8
John Flanagan
Epub-357 pages
4 Stars
YA Fantasy

Even though Will is a full fledged ranger, he is still working with/under Halt.

In this story, we find out a lot about Halt’s past. Will, Horace and Halt are called together as a new task force for dealing with threats outside of the Kingdoms borders.

Once again, tension was just right, laughs were just right. Just a touch of naive’ness and simplicity that makes it a YA title.

Erak’s Ransom

ERAK’S RANSOM
Ranger’s Apprentice #7
John Flanagan
Epub-327 pages
3 Stars
YA fantasy

Erak, oberjarl of the Skandians, is betrayed by one of his own. Will and company attempt to free him. With lots of difficulty and near death experiences they do. Ends with Will becoming a full fledged ranger. Also, truly Will’s coming of age story, where he must act on his own without help from Halt.

Just the right amount of tension and laughter keep this book from being dull. A new environment and set of people to learn about also help.

Not sure why the later books are called “Ranger’s Apprentice”, not considering the end of this book.

Siege of Macindaw

SIEGE OF MACINDAW
Ranger’s Apprentice #6
John Flanagan
Epub-236 pages
4 Stars
YA fantasy

The conclusion to the story. Horace is sent north and the 3 friends overcome and win the day. Overall, this story arc captured in a nutshell why I like this series: flashes of humor when things start getting dark, determined heroes who won’t give up and right winning over evil.

Sorcerer of the North

SORCERER OF THE NORTH
Ranger’s Apprentice #5
John Flanagan
Epub-230 pages
4 Stars
YA fantasy

Will is sent to a quiet castle after his adventures in Skandia. However, he is immediately dispatched on a secret mission to the North to check out claims of sorcery going on. Finds out a nephew of a Duke is trying to take over and make an alliance with the Picti. Alice is involved, and gets captured.

Came very close to getting on my favorites list. But all the sequels just haven’t lived up to my joy of reading the first book.

That being said, I enjoyed this [and it’s sequel] the most after the first book.

Battle for Skandia

Battle for Skandia
Ranger’s Apprentice #4
John Flanagan
4 Stars
Fantasy
Epub, 238 Pages

Halt, Will and the others are trapped in Skandia by the mongol horde. They make an uneasy truce with the Skandians to provide training so the Skandians don’t get their butts handed to them on a platter. They defeat the horde at a terrible cost and the main group survives and gets home, with a treaty with the Skandians.

It really struck home how much this series is just a European fantasy setting. England, France, Norway, Mongol hordes, Asian steppes, etc, etc.
Makes me wonder if young people reading this will want to investigate the real thing, or get bored by the real history since there isn’t a single charismatic character to tie it all together?

The Icebound Land

The Icebound Land
Ranger’s Apprentice #3
John Flanagan
4 Stars
Fantasy
Epub, 222 Pages

Will and the Princess are taken as slaves for Skandia and Will becomes addicted to some drug. Princess makes a deal with the kind hearted Skandian who originally captured them and she and Will escape to a mountain hut for the winter. She weans Will off the drug. Meanwhile Halt insults the king and gets thrown out of the kingdom so he can search for Will. Ends with them all finding each other but with a horde of mongols ready to invade Skandia.

These really feel like long chapters instead of full books. Not a bad thing but I’d like to see these in omnibus editions so the flow isn’t interrupted.

The Burning Bridge

The Burning Bridge
Ranger’s Apprentice #2
John Flanagan
Fantasy
3 Stars
Epub, 212 Pages

Will ends up on a mission with Horace to stop a surprise attack by Morgarath on the kingdom. He and some girl, who turns out to be King Duncan’s daughter, are kidnapped by Scandians and the last scene is of Halt seeing the boat take off with them aboard.