Ranger’s Apprentice: Books 2-6 by John Flanagan

Will grew up as an unnamed orphan, but when he is invited to train to be a ranger–the mysterious guardians of the realm–his life changes forever. The series follows his adventures and missteps as he trains to become a ranger and then after he achieves this goal.

I find myself both enjoying this series while also being somewhat disappointed by it. Flanagan is a solid writer and his plots are interesting. We relate to the characters easily and cheer on Will in his endeavor to become a Ranger, which he quickly learns, is the job truly meant for him.

But while the series has its strengths, it has a number of weaknesses too. For one thing, it doesn’t feel like a series, but rather like a bunch of books that are tenuously connected. Most of the books lead into the events of the next one, but otherwise, their story lines are barely connected. It doesn’t feel like there is a bigger story building (which isn’t necessarily a requirement, but I think it’s an added element that could really strengthen the story).

Often Flanagan introduces a character and a relationship and then lets it drop by the wayside or brings someone in who we’d like to know more about and then we don’t see them for a while. Even Halt disappears later in the series.

The thing that bugs me most though, is that by book 6, Will is no longer an apprentice but a full fledged ranger. It’s called RANGER’S APPRENTICE! And we miss out on years of Will’s training. I think this is a missed opportunity.

Flanagan says that he just writes books as he thinks up stories, which I think is clear from the books. I’d love to see a bigger, overarching story and some more continuity from one book to the next. Keep in the characters we know and care about. Despite these issues, I’m still enjoying and intend to read more, but I’m hoping to see a bit of an improvement.

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