Story time with

Chatterbox: Blab About Books

Every book in Ranger's Apprentice. AAH
Story time with...

Story time with Icy!

When I was younger, I only ever had the first two books of the Ranger's Apprentice series, and one from the prequel series with Halt & Crowley (which taught me most of the fief names). That was it, so I read the first two books of the series over and over again from time to time.

For my birthday, which was a while ago in August, my mom finally got me the entire series, and I got to read them all (plus the first book of Royal Ranger). And woooahhh I've got opinions. This is a full book review folks, so it's going to have spoilers. Get ready.

Book one! Aah, such a classic. It's enjoyable for Will's youth and the way he acts, and the general chemistry between the characters is very nice (the bit about 'maybe your grandmother should teach you how to ride' was beautiful).

Book two. This book upped the stakes and took us on an adventure with already familiar characters. Same good chemistry and interactions ('jump off the cliff, it'll be less messy that way'), same good feel. Overall, it was great, especially the sense of peril and the introduction of Evanlyn.

Book three! We're in Skandia now, which is fun. It retains that sense of peril with Will and Evanlyn, while giving us a lighter perspective from Halt and Horace. It gets darker, however. It's not too much emotional whiplash in my opinion as we've already gotten loose to perilous things in the last book, and when the story gets darker ('he was the man who laughed'), the characters react appropriately with the audience to help us along.

Book four! MORE WAR. Started off strong, hooking you in with the Temujai...Temi...forget it. Overall, it doesn't stick out to me as much as the other books do, but I loved the character development, and all the times John Flanagan toys with the reader. The bit with Halt at the end was really lovely.

Book five! Ooh, goodness. Books five/six are one of my favorites as far as storytelling--the dog/disguise as the Jongleur is just so entertaining. They pulled off Will being a jongleur without it being overly comical, and it just generally seemed interesting. Story-wise, because who is trustworthy or not has been so black and white before in the books, you're lulled into believing who the villain is. Of course, the instant Orman opens up to Will, the villain is clear. Also, the fact that we get to see Alyss in the story again is great, since at this point in the books I was unsure whether or not she was going to show up again as an important character. And they pulled it off really well!

Book six. Same story as book five; we get to see Keren show remorse and his character slowly transitions. Eventually, though, we do have to reach a conclusion with him. Saying goodbye to Shadow was bittersweet. I do dislike that they followed the 'Oh no! Bad guy is controlling good guy's friend! Good guy can't hurt his friend! Oh nooo! Controlling/posession!' It's just...such a cliche, in my books. I've seen it far too many times. However, it is good that they kept the theme of the books being slightly-fantasy, since we haven't seen the Wargals or anything since book two. So, yay and nay for the hypnosis. The Malcom-lying-about-pebble thing was super great, though.

Book seven! Best boy Selethen is here. This book is super fun, honestly. The tribes abiding by their laws, the desert, and some sweet, sweet Evanlyn development and time? Lovely! Yes, it should've gone before books five and six, however I don't think it matters too much. I enjoyed it nonetheless, but on my second read-through of the series I will be reading seven before five and six to see if it makes a difference. I'll go over more about this in the comments.

Book eight. Kings of Clonmel. Because I'm an idiot and I read the first book of the prequel series before finishing the actual series, I actually already knew the important backstory about Halt? And I kinda ruined this book for myself? So like, can someone else please explain their non-ruined impression of this book for me? Thank you?

Book nine! Emperor of Nihon-Ja was really, really cute. The Emperor himself is so nice and like oh my word it was just such a fun book. I did enjoy how it maintained its Ranger's Apprentice vibes, what with the sacrifices and such, but everything about this was just really feel-good, but unfortunately predictable.

Book ten. Lost stories. This post is already really long, so I won't cover my mixed feelings on this book in full depth, but hearing about the different little short stories of the universe was interesting. (Also the Jenny short story was really cute) That's it. That's all.

And that's it! Other than Royal Ranger, which, well. I'll talk about that in detail later. Again, this post is already really long, so I'll cover specifics, from George to CERTAIN CHARACTERS DYING, in the comments. Thanks for getting this far! c:

submitted by Icy, age 15, The Forest
(October 2, 2019 - 6:07 pm)

NITPICK ONE: George

Oh, my feelings on this character are so mixed. On one hand, it's absolutely fine that he's only featured twice in the books, after all, how important really is he? If John Flanagan doesn't want him to be in the spotlight as much as the other characters, it's fine, and besides, the characters he chose to develop make more sense than George. 

On the other hand, nonono, George deserves more than this. He's my son. He was so fun in book one, despite not being really part of one of the main-ish three corps. He's such an intelligent boi. But why. Why. Did he not stay with them in Nihon-Ja. They dropped him for so long, only to pick him up just the tiniest bit in Nihon-Ja just to drop him again! Perhaps he could've had a moment of character development where he was scared to go with them, that he didn't want to go into this dangerous situation, but his loyalty to his Nihon-Ja friends and Horace won out. But no, he just serves one purpose, and that is to send a letter to our crew. 

Then again, my boy Selethen did get to come back in Book Nine...so can I really complain? Like, Selethen was a great character choice and it was awesome to see him again.

STILL. GEORGE. YOU DROPPED GEORGE, MR. FLANAGAN. PLEASE PICK HIM UP.

submitted by Icy, age 14, The Forest
(October 2, 2019 - 6:44 pm)

NITPICK TWO: Book seven's 'peril'.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love book seven. But the thing about book seven was that most of the suspense came from us, thinking that our favorite characters may possibly die. Oh, wait! Book seven comes before books five and six, where we know most of these characters are okay!

This literally only excludes best boy Selethen, since he was introduced in Book Seven, and possibly Gilan as I don't think he gets a mention in Five/Six. Evanlyn is mentioned in six, as well, so we know she's okay, and we literally see Halt, the first to nearly be executed and the source of a lot of tension, in book five. Erak is also safe as Will uses him to keep the Skandians in line in book five.

However, where it lacks in real danger to the characters, it excels in showcasing them and partially developing them. Here's Will, trying to be moral and still get his horse back without plain thievery/distrust, and Evanlyn stepping up. There's also Selethen, who was the original cause of the ransom at first but had a complete swing around. 

And one, very good thing.

One of my favorite parts of book seven was where the characters had to choose to surrender. A huge theme in Ranger's Apprentice is that they usually win every battle, usually find a way despite so many difficulties in this creative way that only Rangers, it seems, can do.

But having the characters actually surrender to choose to stop bloodshed, and for the people the Rangers killed to have consequences (the friends of those who the Rangers killed made them miserable)? That just...struck me. It may be such a minor thing, but it stuck out to me so much as a highlight of this book, and the series. It just changed up the formula so much. 

Sidenote, Pauline and Halt. c;

submitted by Icy, age 15, The Forest
(October 2, 2019 - 6:59 pm)

FINAL NITPICK (so far): Royal Ranger. MAJOR SPOILERS. M A J O R.

...hoo boy. Ehhmmm. So let me just be very frank with you.

Alyss was, very obviously, killed off because there wouldn't be room for her while Will trained his new apprentice. I mean, yes, there was the factor of Will's development where he slowly had to get over his desire for revenge, and the intense moment where Will was captured and nearly burned, but like, reeeee. Why.

Also, if you take away the new significance of fire in the story, you get a story that could've happened wether Alyss died or not. You could argue that Maddie and Will's relationship involves her softening him after Alyss's death, but the issue with that is the fact that Will's original relationship with Halt in the first book did the same, without anyone, I dunno, dying. Also, Alyss could've fit into the new story WITHOUT DYING.

Maybe Will's duties teaching his apprentice made them spend more and more time apart, straining the plot more! Maybe other things could've happened! But we got this. And I'm upset. Besides, you could replace the group that killed off Alyss with any other type of bandit you see in the series and it'd have still made sense. These people nearly killed a child; what are you doing bringing your clearly young apprentice after them? This isn't wartimes like it was in the original Ranger's Apprentice, you have no reason to do this! Will! No!

And Maddie's character isn't bad, but the way they go about her development is obvious. Will the spoiled princess learn how to be normal by becoming a Ranger? Will she find she has a talent for it? Obviously, yes. 

Also how dare you discredit Evanlyn by saying the way she handled a sling was bad! How dare? 

I'm sorry, I'm being too nitpicky with this lol. I'm just very salty about this. 

What I liked:

I really enjoyed the plot in general, tracking down these child-kidnappers was a pretty unique adventure while still being enjoyable and not too hard for an apprentice (still I swear why did you drag a child into this-). It was neat! The Storyman, and the others, were all memorable, and it was a fun mystery. 

I'm still looking into getting the second book, but I'm still excited for it, despite the salt. Don't get me wrong, I'm upset about the way certain characters are handled, but I'm still hyped for when I get it. Each of the Rangers Apprentice books have been unique adventures that have made me feel like a kid (I mean, not that that's hard to do, I'm uber immature lol) again. 

I wonder how Brotherband will be for me? 

submitted by Icy, age 15, The Forest
(October 2, 2019 - 8:10 pm)

Ooh ooh ooh! I absolutely love this series. It’s just so funny and dark and sweet all at the same time. Some of your nitpicks were not things I had thought about, so that was interesting, but then Alyss. Oh, Alyss. She was literally my favorite character, and John Flanagan had to kill her off? Like you said, there are so many other things that could have happened. Maybe she was captured, or called away on a dangerous mission, or anything like that.

My favorite book was book ten, Emperor of Nihon-Ja (yes, this was ten; you skipped Halt’s Peril). I really liked the nicknames the people got, and the dynamic between Evanlyn and Alyss in relation to the boys, and that whole girls-are-strong-too thing. 

“We figures you mightn’t listen to a healer, a Ranger or a knight of the realm,” he said. “But if your horse agrees with them, you’d have no choice but to pay attention.” -Book 9, Halt’s Peril

“If you’re Halt’s apprentice, you don’t have a choice. You learn to shoot a bow, throw a knife, move silently and put honey in your coffee.” -Book 8, The Kings of Clonmel

I have pages and pages of more quotes, but I think I ought to go now. 

submitted by Kitten, Pondering
(October 4, 2019 - 8:51 pm)

Ah, I knew there was one I skipped! Yeah, Halt's peril; the cult-y stuff was cool. 

Honestly, I'm not surprised you have pages of quotes; it's just such a quote-able series! My brother constantly doted on the 'Inkwell is mightier than the dagger' part of Lost Stories a long time ago. I immediately knew what was coming with that book eight quote.

The nicknaames! I neglected to mention them in my last post, but aah. Bear/butterfly both work really well for Will and Horace, and the additional nicknames mentioned at the end of the book (Crane for Alyss, I forget the rest ._.) were really lovely too. 

submitted by A very late Icy, age 15, The Forest
(October 7, 2019 - 2:05 pm)

I mean, hey, only one person has posted on here and it'll probably die very quickly, but I wanted to finish up my nitpicks since I forgot the nitpick I was very excited about. Besides, hey, I can look back on this thread once I'm done with future readthroughs, and see how 

actual Final nitpick: Book eleven/Time

Nitpick I: immersion destroyed-

At the beginning of The Lost Stories, we get a scene where archeologists are looking over the remains of Redmont/the cabin. Hoo boy. This scene literally broke my mind. Wait, there's a time in this book that takes place after all of our characters have died? Wait, now I have to think about the fact that they're all dead due to time? *breakdown intensifies*

Yeaaah, it's a nitpick for a reason since it's such a small thing. But still, it was so hard to focus on the book considering what it's supposed to be.

Nitpick II: Shadow-Ebony-Sable and the concept of time.

Eventually in the books, Will gets Shadow, right? Then he eventually gets Ebony. He is an adult after getting Shadow; then he leaves her, eventually getting Ebony, her daughter. Except something about this doesn't add up.

Larger dogs may not live long as small dogs, but they do have a lifespan that can go up to ten to seventeen years (that particular specific is for Border Collies, which Shadow/Ebony/Sable, as Border Sheperds, are based off of). Shadow didn't have Ebony while she was too old of a dog, which does put a little restraint on time, but still.

Will is shown as having Ebony in The Lost Stories. Her first appearance was in Halt's Peril, as a very young puppy. She's still very young in Nihon-Ja as she has a tendency for trouble. She appears in the Lost Stories, having her own little short story...

Yet in the Royal Ranger's first book, she's been replaced by Sable. I'm not salty that she's gone (though I do like all the dogs), but the issue here is the timeframe. Halt is still alive, Baron Arald and many of the older adults (excluding Crowley) are still alive. Yet, for Ebony to have died of old age (which she probably did, considering they already went to all that trouble to keep her alive), about ten to seventeen years must have passed. Coupled with the fact that Sable is already an adult, we get as much as twelve/thirteen to twenty-one years. Twelve being the bare, unlikely minimum since if you factor Maddie being an older adolescent in...

How exactly are some of these characters still alive? How much time passed? What on earth is happening here? This is literally enough time for the second Tug to have been retired and the first to die. Yet Bellerophon appears in these books, the second Tug is still in action, and not much seems to have changed so what on earth happened? Why is Sable a thing? How much time passed? AAAAAA-

submitted by Icy, age 15, The Forest
(October 7, 2019 - 2:50 pm)