The icebound Land -Book 3

I tore through this book right after the second one, but didn’t write about it because it was so late in the night when I finished. Book 3 was really suspenseful, the whole plot was a tense adventure on both sides of an ocean. Again, the main characters were very deeply described and the strengthening of friendships in adversity made the book simply awesome for me. This book was sort of the hero’s journey– but inside out. The heroes were NOT who I had expected. The characters who were weak and shady are cast in a new light here. Conversely, the strong become the weak and are powerless in many ways. I was pleased to find that Flanagan did not disappoint in showing how true the characters were to who I thought they were. Even weakened, the heroes showed a silent, unwavering strength in manner and tolerance. And likewise, the lesser characters rose to the challenges put before them. This fisheye lens was a delightful reveal of the inner workings of each character. In my mind, the characters became even better as the story progressed– as they did what they could, because they had to survive. And despite harsh circumstances-they remained noble people. Such is the stuff of Fable. Bravo!

The Burning Bridge, by John Flanagan

This book continues the saga of Will, Halt and Horace as they continue on their fight against Morgarath from Book1. The Burning Bridge also introduces a great character named Evalyn.  Great story, for many reasons– intrigue, character development, and a very enjoyable view into the thoughts of the dastardly Morgarath. Great narrative perspectives make for fun insights between teachers, apprentices, and villains.  My favorite line was near the end, when one character ruminates “Deep in his mind, Morgarath knew who that someone was. He didn’t know how he knew. Or why.  He knew it had to be … ” and then I laughed out loud, at the seemingly childish thoughts of someone who doesn’t know a trick is being played on him.  Great ending, too, very emotional and gripping… but I can’t say more. Read it and weep!

Ruins of Gorlan

Because I liked Book 8 so much, J urged me to start at the beginning. I was doubtful at first, because I didn’t want to get addicted to a new series. Unfortunately, I think this is going to happen.
Reading Flanagan’s prose was a sheer delight. The main plot in the Ruins of Gorlan is to set to stage for the introduction of the main characters. The battles were riveting, as well as the fearsome beasts that were confronted.  Characters are revealed is slow and enticing contexts, as the excitement heats up toward the finale. We hear of Will’s unusual abilities through complaints by Craft masters on the day of his choosing. Then these abilities are demonstrated, in surprisingly versatile ways with increasing severity. It was like opening a box of chocolates, to read about how Will’s abilities sprang, were nurtured, practiced, and honed. How exquisite to reveal the brilliance of Horace through the eyes of Craft masters who were not sure what they were seeing as the cadet intuitively added instinct to his training!  Jenny and Alyss’s talents are also alluded to, and I eagerly await their unfolding in the following books.
The depth of the relationships between apprentices, and the struggles within master and student made me wistful about teaching. How hard it is for teachers to recognize innovative talent, and nurture their students innate abilities– the apprenticeship model of teaching is probably the most effective. 
I just devoured the Ruins of Gorlan.  I did not anticipate that I would like the book nearly as much, because I had read SO MANY SIMILAR BOOKS before– orphans, castles, spies. In my mind, how could any compete with Robin Hobb? But as I got into it, I realize that the characters of this series by John Flanagan is just as engaging and delightful as the Apprentice and Assassins Series from Robin Hobb.  Throw in ugly magical beasts like the Kalkare and I did not want to sleep until I had finished the book. I hurriedly requested the next two from the library…

New Series: Rangers Apprentice by John Flanagan

It has been a long time since I’ve actually read any series. I picked up the Kings of Clonmel on a whim, it was laying around our house. Jim had torn through the previous books, and I thought, “seems like a good series.” This book is aimed at teens, but as an adult, I found this a very satisfying read.  I was hooked within the first few pages, and the characters were instantly charming and deep. The main character, Will, has the qualities of a good hero– noble, honest and humble at the same time. Without giving away too much, lets just say that a lot of details are revealed about the main characters in a very pleasurable way– through different perspectives from the main characters– Halt, Horace and Will, and their teasing observations to each other. The relationships between the main characters was heartwarming, and made me laugh out loud at times.
The depth of the characters and their relationships made the book. The plot was about the intrigue surrounding a religious cult that had taken hold on the outskirts of a civilization, and is a fascinating insight into how protection rackets work. The plot was good, and made the descriptions of the Ranger craft illuminating. The details on mastering archery, camouflage, and tactical foreplay were interesting, and made me want to practice “moving unseen” as I walk around. .