Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review: The Ruins of Gorlan

Title: The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice, #1)
Author: John Flanagan
Release Date: January 1, 2004
Publisher: Puffin
Cover Designer: John Blackford (shield design by Cliff Nielsen)
Age Audience: YA
Genre: Fantasy
Summary: Will had always wanted to be a warrior. The Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways, made him nervous. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now fifteen year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice. What he doesn't realize yet is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied.

My Review:
I read this book for my book club. I thought the cover was corny (except for the Cliff Nielsen part). And when I started reading it, I thought the prologue was corny too. But when the book actually started, it got interesting.

One thing I liked about this book is that the names of the characters were relatively normal. In real life, there are people named Will, Horace, Jenny, etc. In most fantasy books, the characters have names that sound completely made up (example: Graceling by Kristin Cashore). I also liked how the Rangers were archers. I love archers in fantasy.

The writing was good, but it wasn't anything exceptional. I also think that sometimes unnecessary details were given. For example, at one point it goes on for a whole paragraph about how Sir Rodney's bedroom looks after his wife's death. Honestly, I didn't think that was relevant to the story at all. It wasn't even interesting. But the upside of the overload of details is that you can really picture the setting in your mind, unlike with some books that don't give much details except whether it's raining or snowing (*cough cough* Twilight). Like, during the battle scenes, I felt like I was there watching the battle.

Here's one thing about this book that makes me wonder. Halt says a French phrase to mount his horse, and he tells Will that it's another language. Which makes me wonder, is this book set in an imaginary world, or in the real world at a time when countries had different names? Come to think of it, the name Skandia is very similar to Scandinavia, and if you look at the cover of book four (The Battle for Skandia) the Skandian looks a lot like a Viking.

Overall, this was a good book, although a little kiddish.

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