I am so happy to have discovered this series! I am really happy that I don’t have to wait for the next book in the series to be published. The second book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, The Burning Bridge, ended on such a cliffhanger that I want to read the third book immediately. I don’t think that is going to happen, but I am taking it home with me anyway.
The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan, 2005
Picking up where The Ruins of Gorlan ended, the kindgom is preparing for war. The Ranger Halt is charged with a diplomatic mission with Alyss while Gilan, Horace and Will are sent on a mission to warn another province about the looming war with Morgarath. This separation of Ranger and apprentice is meant to help Will regain his faltering confidence. As the three young men proceed they make a shocking discovery-Morgarath’s army is better organized than they imagined and he has devised a way to pass the impassable cliffs which will allow his army to ambush the King’s men. They also encounter the sole survivor of a Wargal attack, a servant girl named Evanlyn who is hiding a secret about herself. Hoping to prevent a disaster, Gilan hurries ahead with the news of the planned ambush, leaving the two apprentices and the girl to follow. Instead of following the three decide to take matters into their own hands, with disasterous results.
The second volume in this series really packs a punch! The pacing is superb as tension builds with edge-of-your-seat moments that are balanced nicely with snapshots of the goings on elsewhere in the kingdom. Despite his initial apprehension over his separation from Halt, Will thrives among his peers and emerges as a true leader, earning the trust and respect of his small group. I was pleased to see the growth and development of Horace as well. Like Will, Horace gains a great deal of confidence on their journey and his swordfighting scenes are just plain cool. An impulsive act of courage by Horace at the end is truly amazing. The list of enemies continues to grow in this book as the King’s army face not only Morgarath and his Wargals, but the viking-like warriors know as Skandians who have pledged allegiance to Morgarath. The apprentices’ training is put to the test in this page-turner as battles and fights erupt throughout the book and the cliffhanger ending will have readers rushing out for the next book, The Icebound Land. If you stopped reading after the first book, I highly recommend you give the series a second chance. It really has something for almost everyone-world-building fantasty, action, adventure, war strategy, swordfights, great characters, interesting relationships, and even a touch of humor.
Want more adventure reads? Try The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix, the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer, the Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale, or the Hunchback Assignments series by Arthur Slade. I know I will be working on The Rangers Apprentice series while I wait for the next Rick Riordan book!
P.S. Spell check function is not working, please forgive any errors!