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The Ruins of Gorlan (The Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1) Paperback – June 8, 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 875 customer reviews
Book 1 of 12 in the Ranger's Apprentice Series

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A compelling novel about the powerful relationship between a boy and his fox. "Pax" is destined to become a classic, beloved for generations to come. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-8–A strong debut in a new fantasy series. Will hopes to become a knight; instead, he winds up as a Ranger's apprentice, joining the secretive corps that uses stealth, woodcraft, and courage to protect the kingdom. His aptitude and bravery gradually earn the respect of his gruff but good-hearted master. When the kingdom is attacked by evil magic forces, Will helps track down and defeat a couple of particularly nasty beasts. This closing episode sets the stage for a good-versus-evil war that will likely be at the heart of future volumes. In this opener, though, most of the story focuses on the learning process that Will goes through as an apprentice. Descriptions of Ranger craft are fascinating. Exciting confrontations with bullies and wild boars help to establish the boy's emerging character. Side stories involving a rival Battleschool apprentice and the identity of Will's father are woven in smoothly. The author occasionally spells things out more than is needed when actions demonstrate them clearly enough. However, the well-paced plot moves effortlessly toward the climax, letting readers get to know the world and the characters gradually as excitement builds. The public adoration Will gains at the end seems slightly overdone given the established distrust people feel for Rangers, but it's still a pleasing finish and should leave readers eager to share the future adventures of the Ranger's apprentice.–Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 5-8. Like the other 15-year-old wards of Castle Redmont, Will is nervous about Choosing Day, when each of them will be assigned to a different master for training. Though his dearest wish is to enter the Battleschool, his small stature prevents it. Instead, Will is apprenticed to the grim-faced, mysterious Ranger. Soon Will learns that becoming a ranger is more difficult, dangerous, and worthwhile than he had imagined. He earns the respect of his elders and the friendship of a former foe, but all this is prelude to the great adventure that follows, when his skills wielding a knife and keeping a heightened awareness of his surroundings become vital to the survival of his mentor and the safety of the kingdom. The last few years have seen the publication of many fantasies, but few have the appeal of this original story. Rather than creating a host of strange creatures and magical powers, Flanagan concentrates on character, offering readers a young protagonist they will care about and relationships that develop believably over time. Will's world is a colorful place, threatened by an evil warlord and his fierce minions, but it's the details of everyday living and the true-to-life emotions of the people that are memorable. Children will definitely look forward to the next adventure in the Ruins of Gorlan series. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 0920 (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (June 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142406635
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142406632
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (875 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Flanagan grew up in Sydney, Australia hoping to be a writer. It wasn't until he wrote a highly uncomplimentary poem about a senior executive at the agency he worked, however, that his talent was revealed. It turned out one of the company directors agreed with John's assessment of the executive, and happily agreed to train John in copywriting. After writing advertising copy for the next two decades, John teamed with an old friend to develop a television sitcom, Hey Dad!, which went on to air for eight years. John began writing Ranger's Apprentice for his son, Michael, ten years ago, and is still hard at work on the series. He currently lives in the suburb of Manly, Australia, with his wife. In addition to their son, they have two grown daughters and four grandsons.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A terrific series. My son started reading them and asked me to do so as well. I was skeptical but by about 20 pages into the first volume I was hooked. I have now devoured all 9 of them, and may well go back and read them all again in a year or two.

The main characters begin as children but grow up quickly throughout the series. Unlike too many "young adult" books, the adults are more interesting than the children, and the children realize that becoming an adult is something to strive for rather than resist.

All of the books are very funny as well as exciting. The "good guys" all have a wry sense of humor (obviously the author's as well), while the "bad guys" are typically overbearing and too serious. Children also fail to grasp the humor; growing up is shown as (in part) a process of coming to understand (and use) a rather dry wit with one's friends.

These are "sword and sorcery" type books, except that there doesn't seem to be any sorcery! Several people claim to have magical type powers, but the powers seem to all be fake, and the people who claim them are all bad guys. Several strange religious prophets also turn out to be hucksters.

The battle scenes are realistically told (though the skills of the protagonists are not always realistic). Death is not whitewashed; bones break and blood spurts and it HURTS. There is a realism to the entire series that is a wonderful change from typical "fantasy" fare.

There is no sex and only minimal time is given to love. The major virtues and concerns of the characters are honor, patience, friendship, a skeptical intelligence, and hard work. The characters struggle to master themselves and become better people.

In short: realistic, serious, and honest books about growing up -- all in a fun "epic fantasy" package. Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I got this book from our local library 2 weeks ago. My 12 year old son read it, and loved it so much he loaned it to a friend, who loaned it to a friend, who loaned it to a friend. Yes it was passed around THAT much. I was taking a group of them to church Wednesday night and the were talking excitedly about what sounded like a really awesome new movie, and when I asked them what the were talking about, of course, it was this book. My son was bummed to find out our library doesn't have the 2nd book of the series yet, so I'm here to buy them for Christmas.
2 Comments 80 of 86 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Imagine if the Rangers from "Lord of the Rings" took apprentices -- what kind of life would that be?

John Flanagan does a decent job answering the question in the first book of the Ranger's Apprentice series, "The Ruins of Gorlan." Besides setting up the medieval Anglo backdrop, Flanagan also spins up a solid fantasy story with plenty of monsters, weapons, a likable pair of teenage heroes, and a growing menace from a rarely-seen villain making a comeback.

On Choosing Day, Will hopes to be selected for Battleschool -- but he's rejected by all the people taking apprentices. The one exception is Halt, a Ranger.

And after Will inadvertently passes a test (climbing up a sheer wall into the Baron's study), Halt accepts him as an apprentice. At first, Will's new life seems to be all chores and unglamorous lessons, but he starts to realize the importance of the Ranger's skills. And at the same time, his fellow orphan Horace is being tormented at Battleschool by a gang of bullies.

Unfortunately, the kingdom is in new trouble -- the evil baron Morgarath is starting to send his monstrous Wurgals out once more, and there are even rumors that the ghastly Kalkara are also abroad. When it seems that the king himself may be Morgarath's target, Will and Halt are sent on a mission to stop the Kalkara -- except that the target isn't who they expect.

The world John Flanagan conjures up here is pretty recognizably a medieval England-that-never-was, with hints of similarly semi-familiar lands to explore (Gallica, Temujai). And he makes it more his own with elaborate fictional history, slightly too-Tolkienian flourishes (a villain named Morgarath?) and the first blossoming of a solid action/fantasy series.
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Format: Hardcover
After I had purchased the book a friend mentioned to me that the book was listed for the tweens audience. I thought of returning it but I am glad I didn't because the book is great! Flanagan writes very well and obviously understands a wide range of male age groups. I am 40 and I was hooked after the 2nd chapter. You really do start to like all the main characters and I can't wait for the next installments. And no I am not biased because my name is Will as well. ;-)

This book is well written and very entertaining. I recommend it for those with a good imagination and a appreciation for strong character writing.

Here is to "The Burning Bridge".
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Format: Hardcover
My son has read this series - and I read them too! It is a fantasy series based around the life of Will, a fifteen year old who is apprenticed to (warning, spoiler alert) a ranger (not much of a spoiler, I know!). Will has dreams for what he wants to do and be - but is forced into another path (being a ranger) which he eventually appreciates is the right one for him.

At the same time as developing his skills as a ranger and growing up, he is engaged in some of the troubles in his country, Araluen (a thinly disguised England).

The book(s) are pacy and well written. While Will is the main character, other characters are well drawn and develop over the series, as do the relationships between them, in a way that I believe is appropriate for the age group. You also get to see some foibles and weaknesses - they aren't cardboard cutouts! The fantasy genre is managed without magic (despite the title of Book 5, The Sorceror in the North) - "success" is about values such as character, skill, courage and teamwork - oh and skill? the message there is one of 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration, as we see Will and his friend Horace, practise, practise, practise...

One small downside is that some of the books - eg Book 1 - stand alone, but some of the others flow into each other a bit more. I guess that is good for marketing (!) if a little dissatisfying when you finish a book and feel like the story is still up in the air. Just as well the author is getting them out very quickly!

The age recommendations on these books are appropriate. The length is good for this age group too.

My son was clamouring for the latest book - book 5 was released a fortnight ago here in Australia - and he has read it with great enthusiasm. Several other children in his class are reading them and they have greatly enjoyed discussing them and sharing them around. It is great to see that buzz around a series of books.

There should be more like this one!
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The Ruins of Gorlan (The Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1)
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