By Rafique Shabbir
Rangers Apprentice Early Years: Tournament at Gorlan, written by John Flanagan, is a prequel to the long-running Rangers Apprentice series. The series has sold over three million copies, spanning twelve books and has been well received by many fans. How does this book compare to the others?
The plot follows two Rangers named Halt and Crowley who, along with other Rangers, are being framed for crimes, and kicked out of their fiefs and replaced by naïve, less-skilled rangers. Halt and Crowley have no doubt that the nefarious mastermind Lord Morgarath is behind all of this and seeks to weaken the kingdom’s best line of defense, the Ranger Corps. Halt, Crowley, and other renegade Rangers must form a rebellion with each other, restore power back into the corps, and find out what Morgarath’s plans are.
The book’s genre is fantasy, and it’s about 345 pages long. It takes place in a medieval-like setting. It has a light-hearted tone and adventurous feel. The book isn’t as serious as the books in the main series. The main characters are Halt and Crowley, and along the way, they meet other characters, each with a personality of their own. Rangers are a formidable force, as they hide in the dark and take out enemies from the distance with their long bow, with never before seen skill.
One of the great things about this book is that none of the characters feel flat. They all have a personality of their own. The book has a very bright tone too. There are lines and conversations the characters have that are funny and are sure to put a smile on your face. The plot itself is well structured, and moves at a fast, easy-to-follow pace, and it isn’t too long.
One of the challenges with it is that it brings up things about the characters’ past which would be a big surprise in the main series. It is because of this reason alone that I wouldn’t recommend people read this book before the main ones. Another problem is the action sequences. They are just overly descriptive, to the point where the detail can draw you out of the moment.
Overall, it’s a family-friendly, fast-paced adventure, which I am sure anyone who likes fantasy books will enjoy.