Reading level: Young Adult/Middle Grade
Size: 320 pages
Release Date: June 25, 2009
Stand Alone or Series: 5th book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series
Rating: 4/5 stars
This is the fifth book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series by Flanagan. The tenth book in this series, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, released in April of 2011. This book was a solid addition to the series and an enjoyable read. It is another of those books in this series that is only the first half of a story arc.
Will is taking up his own post at a castle in the Northern territories. As he settles in to his new position he receives a message from his old friend Alyss, all is not well in the North and Will needs to go and check it out. Masquerading as a jongleur, Will investigates stories of bad sorcery and mysterious illness.
It was a lot of fun to Will striking out on his own as a Ranger. I was a bit disappointed that he stays in his new territory such a short time and then is sent north to a different area. It was interesting to watch Will work at playing a completely different role (that of a traveling musician) when he’s just finally out on his own as a Ranger.
There were some great new characters added to the mix. Will ends up with a faithful dog companion that added a lot to the story. A strange “black” magician also looks to add a lot to the story. I was a bit disappointed we didn’t see much of Halt in this book, but Alyss is present for much of the story and she is a wonderful humorous character that really is fun to read about.
The story is well-written, as with previous books there is nothing especially creative or intriguing about the world here. It is a pretty straight-forward adventure fantasy. I love the humor that is woven throughout, it mimics real life well and keeps things from getting too serious.
This book does something that has happened in previous books, it only tells half of a story. The story ends pretty much with everything up in the air. So, if you hate being left hanging I would definitely pick up the sixth book, The Seige of Macindaw, right away so that you can read it when you are done with this one.
Overall a great addition to the series. This is the start of a new story arc and there are some fun characters added. Will and Alyss spend a lot of time together in this story and it was great to have Alyss featuring in the story. Halt is scarce, though and I missed him. I was upset at how the book was ended right in the middle of the story again, but that just makes me want to read book six, The Seige of Macindaw, more. This has been a wonderful series for middle grade and young adult readers who love a good adventure fantasy. The book is very well-written and the humor laced throughout makes it a joy to read.