I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book. I bought it a few months ago and yet, every time I needed a new book, I picked a different one instead. I don’t love the cover (which I don’t think quite suites the book) and the plot summary on the back is perhaps not the best, but I’m glad I finally decided to read it.
Will has grown up as an orphan and a ward of the Baron’s castle. He has always believed that his father was a great knight and intends to follow him. The only problem is, he is far too small to be a knight. Instead, he is accepted as an apprentice to become a Ranger, mysterious figures that people fear and don’t understand. Will is devastated by this, but it’s that or working in the field, so he accept despite being slightly nervous. It doesn’t help that Halt, the Ranger who will train him, never smiles. He soon discovers that there is more to being a Ranger than being intimidating. They scout the land, track dangerous enemies, lead armies, etc. They played a pivotal role in the last battle against Morgarath, but the evil tyrant has been gathering forces for an even deadlier battle than before. And this time he wants more than power. He wants revenge.
The worst thing about this book is how short it is (just under 250 pages). It feels like the secondary characters (the other wards and Halt’s former apprentice Gilan) could have used a little more development, especially Will’s relationship with Alys, he has grown up with and serves as something of a love interest.
I love books that have training (Harry Potter has Hogwarts, Ranger’s Apprentice has apprentice-style training) and I must admit that I am disappointed about the apprentice test (for reasons which I will not disclose) but I suppose that some even cooler things happen instead. We can see Will’s development and growth clearly and it is hard not to connect with him as he discovers bravery no one ever expected of him.
I bought book 2 before even finishing this book, because I knew I would be satisfied with the ending and want to read more.
My only big puzzlement: why put a preview of book 6 in book 1? Who wants a spoiler of the sixth book when they’re not even close to up to it?
Piece of news: this book is being made into a movie! That should be exciting!