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Erak's Ransom (Ranger's Apprentice, Book 7) Hardcover – January 5, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 649 customer reviews
Book 7 of 12 in the Ranger's Apprentice Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Book 7, the latest adventure in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, chronologically takes place after Book 4. Soon to conclude his apprenticeship and become a ranger, young Will joins Halt, Gilan, Horace, Evanlyn, and Svengal on a perilous mission to free their friend Erak, who has been captured by the Arridians and held for ransom. The vaguely Middle Eastern desert setting provides new challenges, new allies, and new foes for the Araluens and their Skandian friends. Bringing together many favorite characters for a grand adventure, this book delivers both excitement and quiet good times. Grades 5-8. --Carolyn Phelan

Review

"Bringing together many favourite characters for a grand adventure, this book delivers both excitement and quiet good times." Booklist "As with the rest of the series it's fun, it has moments of peril and the characters are coming into their own, especially as our lead hero comes to a momentous moment in his own life" tattystreasurechest.blogspot.com "Flanagan has a gift of writing that is beguiling and which grips you from page one. Again I highly recommend these books for all ages" www.bfkbooks.com --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Ranger's Apprentice (Book 7)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399252053
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399252051
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (649 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The land of Nihon-ja has been mentioned a few times in the Ranger's Apprentice series -- a sort of fantasy version of Japan. And "The Emperor of Nihon-ja" takes us right into the heart of this distant land, with John Flanagan's usual mix of action, humor, clever plotting and slightly-altered versions of real-world civilizations.

Horace has been a guest of the Emperor of Nihon-ja, Shigeru. But as he's preparing to go back to Araluen, the Senshi warriors under Lord Arisaka suddenly rebel against the Emperor -- and Horace ends up accompanying Shigeru into the mountains. So Halt, Will, Alyss and Evanlyn (who have been overseeing training in Toscana) set out on a Skandian ship, heading straight for Nihon-ja to help their friend.

The journey to Nihon-ja has many dangers -- pirates, desert warriors, and squabbles aboard the Wolfwill. But the biggest danger is Arisaka's army, which is closing in on a remote mountain fortress where the Emperor is hiding -- and if he wins, Nihon-ja will be thrown into an era of brutality. And he's not the only terror lurking in this unfamiliar land...

"The Emperor of Nihon-ja" is apparently the last of the "regular" Ranger's Apprentice novels, and it seems like a fairly logical place for the main storyline to end. The main problem is that it does drag sometimes, especially in the first several chapters, which are bogged down by sodden horseback riding and traveling via Skandian ship.

However, things pick up once Halt, Will and Co. arrive in Nihon-ja. Flanagan's prose is nimble and descriptive, with smoothly realistic dialogue and some humorous moments (a villager accidentally says "bum" to the Emperor). But he also weaves in a load of tactical maneuvers, tricks and the occasional military stunt (the Macedon Phoenix).
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Format: Hardcover
The seventh "Ranger's Apprentice" book is kind of confusing chronologically -- it's actually set between the fourth and fifth books of the series, during the last days of Will's apprenticeship.

And oddly enough, the tough young apprentice Will is almost a supporting character in his own story until the second half of the book, with the focus often shifting to Alyss, Halt and Cassandra. That's also the point when John Flanagan revs up the plot of "Ranger's Apprentice 7: Erak's ransom," pouring in plenty of action, bloody battles, politics, bandits and a treacherous conspiracy against the Skandian oberjarl.

After years of being secretly in love with each other, the Ranger Halt and the diplomat Lady Pauline are married in nearly royal style... only for their luxurious reception to be crashed by Svengel. The Skandian warrior reveals that Erak decided to go on one last raid in the Middle-Easty land of Arrida, got captured, and is being ransomed for eight thousand reels. King Duncan is happy to provide the money, but he's not so happy that a member of the royal family must go to Arrida... and his strong-willed daughter Cassandra is volunteering. So the princess (under the guise of "Evanlyn"), three Rangers and a crew of Skandian warriors set off for Arrida, and haggle a bargain with the ruling Wakir, Selethen.

But things go wrong when Will loses his faithful pony Tug in a sandstorm, and goes off searching for him -- only to become lost in the desert. Selethen, Halt, Evanlyn and Svengel soon learn that Erak has been kidnapped from his kidnappers, and they may be after the deadliest, cruelest people in Arrida, the Tualaghi. Even worse, an old enemy is involved. The only hope for his friends may be Will, and the new allies he's gained in Arrida's deserts.
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Format: Paperback
In Ranger's Apprentice 7, Erak is making a last raid when he is caught and is held for ransom. Will, Halt, Horace, Cassandra, and Gilan must find him and rescue him. There is a fair amount action in this book. This book is only available in the Australian version. Chronologically, this book comes before the 5th and 6th but after the 1-4. He does a good job of putting pressure on characters. I thought it was a good book and that it was worth buying online from an Australian bookseller.
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Format: Paperback
The book is one of the most exciting yet in John Flanagan's series. After a relatively calm start that includes a wedding for one of the central characters, the story proceeds from a seafaring journey to desert adventures that combine political intrigue, surprising twists in alliances, sword fighting and the testing of archers' skills, as well as survival under brutal circumstances. Readers will find themselves effortlessly picking up information about sailing techniques, ancient wooden ships, nomadic lifestyles, varying cultural views, and desert topography, climate and endurance skills as the tale, with its themes of loyalty and trust, unfolds. The heroes face their serious challenges, including the threat of impending death, with bravery and maintain a dialogue flecked with humor and word play true to their personalities and relationships. All in all, another can't-put-down book for myself and my 10-year-old son.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Overall, I enjoyed The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, but I was quite disappointed with much of the book. I'll attempt to avoid any spoilers below.

I've read the whole Ranger's Apprentice series and enjoyed each book. This book felt much more like a stand alone story within the larger arc rather than a conclusion to the whole series. I don't regret buying or reading this final series contribution but it certainly wasn't the best of the lot. In fact, I think this was the weakest book in the whole series, even apart from the poor series wrap-up provided.

Several character and story developments felt forced--Princess Cassandra/Evanlyn's presence on the trip, especially without a larger support group, the presence and yet nominal participation of the Skandians, the inclusion of Selethen. In many ways, characters seemed included for utilitarian purposes (e.g. Skandians) or for sentimentality purposes (e.g. Selethen).

It also felt like Flanagan couldn't decide who the main character was: Horace or Will. The early part of the book are quite slow and feel more like grudging foundations for the story to follow. (It was so easy to see exactly where the story was going from some of the early scenes.)

The lack of communication between Will and Halt during military scheming phases was ridiculous. Seriously--Halt didn't already have the same idea Will had (given the book's early context)? And Will didn't include the heroic Halt when he had the chance to? The greatest heros are no the types that have to go it alone--they're willing and desirous of the support to be had.

The way language barriers were overcome seems contrived.
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