61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1) (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.