Story Sundays are about… books.
The stories this week are…
The Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan
(possible spoilers ahead!)
This is a wonderful 12 book series about a boy (later young adult, and then in book 12, mid 40’s (approximately,) who is chosen to become a Ranger after being turned down for Battleschool due to his small size. The books tend to have short story arcs spanning two or three books, and often a story is split between two books. The story arcs are as follows. (And in my opinion, this is the best order to buy them in.)
Books 1 and 2, The Ruins of Gorlan and The Burning Bridge cover the first year of Will’s training, and cover the story arc of the return of Morgarath. Book one is (technically) a stand-alone, but the second book leads right into –
The Icebound Land and The Oakleaf Bearers (aka The Battle for Skandia,) books 3 and 4. These books cover the next year, in which Will and Evanlyn, a girl met in Celtica in The Burning Bridge, have been captured by the Skandians and forced into slavery, and after escaping, fight off Will’s addiction to warmweed, a highly addictive drug which was forced on him during their time in slavery. They help repel a Temujai invasion of Skandia, and are instrumental in the start of the Skandian Treaty. (Giving Will his eventual last name of Treaty – his family name was previously unknown.)
Book 7, Erak’s Ransom, takes place between books 4 and 5, and details Will’s adventures in Arrida, saving both Tug (his horse) from the desert, and Erak (the Skandian leader) from the ruthless Tualaghi, a northern desert tribe. At the end of the book, Will is promoted to a full-fledged Ranger, and given his Silver Oakleaf.
Books 5 and 6, The Sorcerer in the North and The Siege of Macindaw, detail Will’s first mission as a full Ranger. Will is sent to a northern fief to investigate claims of sorcery, and ends up helping to retake Macindaw after a coup is staged by the rogue knight Keren, cousin of the castle lord. At the end of book 6, Will realizes his long-standing feelings for his childhood friend Alyss.
Books 8 and 9, The Kings of Clonmel and Halt’s Peril, explore Halt’s background as part of the royal family of Clonmel, a kingdom in Hibernia, and his, Will’s, and Horace’s mission to destroy a cult called the Outsiders, led by a false prophet named Tennyson.
Book 10, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, follows Horace in his attempt to protect Shiguru, the Emperor, from a deadly coup d’état instigated by Arisaka, a power-hungry Senshi. He is joined by Evanlyn (Cassandra, the crown princess of Araluen,) Alyss, Will, Halt, and a Arridi leader, and friend to Will and Halt, named Selethen. They succeed, and the end of the book sees Horace and Evanlyn engaged, and Will proposing to Alyss.
Book 11, The Lost Stories, is a collection of 10 short stories cleaning up loose ends and finishing off wanted stories (like Will and Alyss’s wedding!) from the first 10 books.
Book 12, The Royal Ranger, follows Horace and Evanlyn’s daughter, Madelyn, in her first year of training as a Ranger under Will Treaty, making her the first female Ranger.
These books are absolutely brilliant for anyone who likes medieval settings, sword fights, archery, and general adventuring. I personally loved them. They do have some mild profanities, but nothing you wouldn’t hear on an episode of Star Trek. I read them on my Kindle, but they’re available just about anywhere, in print or electronic. I’d recommend them for ages 11 and up, personally. A few of the fights and some of the descriptions can get a little on the dark side.