The Burning Bridge
Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 2
By John Flanagan
The second offering in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, The Burning Bridge brings the war for Araluen to a head while further cultivating the relationships begun in Book 1.
While all Araluen prepares for war, Will and Horace join Halt’s former apprentice Gilan on a diplomatic mission to Celtica. As they travel towards the capitol, they discover the Celtic settlements all abandoned and thieves combing the countryside. When two thieves consider Will and Horace easy prey, Horace shows his mastery of swordsmanship. Gilan questions the captured bandits, and learns that Wargals have driven the Celts from their homes.
The three meet a Evanlyn, an Araluen girl whose family has been killed by Wargals. While Gilan rides ahead to warn the king of the Wargal attack on Celtica, Will and Horace escort Evanlyn towards Araluen at a slower pace. They encounter a group of Wargals and Celtic prisoners, who they follow in an attempt to discover Morgarath’s plans. The Wargals lead them to a great bridge, still under construction, which will allow Morgarath’s forces to attack the Araluen army from the rear as well as the front.
Will and Evanlyn are captured by Skandian mercenaries while attempting to destroy the bridge and Horace is forced to return to Araluen without them. Shortly after his return, the Araluen armies and Morgarath’s forces clash in a terrible battle for control of the country.
Watching Will and Horace work together brings out their differences as well as their similarities. Both are still trying to prove themselves while gradually becoming the men they will be, and each faces a personal challenge, showing the reader the true depth of their characters. The series may be called Ranger’s Apprentice, but the varied cast of major characters really adds dimension to Araluen.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the continuing adventures of Will, the Ranger apprentice. While a continuation of many of the plot threads from The Ruins of Gorlan, I believe this book also has the ability to stand on its own.
This review originally appeared 20 July 2012 on fantasyreviewer.com