Book Review: Ranger’s Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan

The Ruins of Gorlan
Ranger’s Apprentice, Book 1
By John Flanagan

Ranger’s Apprentice is a series of young adult fantasy novels by Australian author John Flanagan. According to the author, the books were originally written as short stories to get his son excited about reading. Later, the author rediscovered the stories and adapted them into book form. Although published several years ago, I first learned of the books about eighteen months ago from a friend who knows I am always on the lookout for a good fantasy novel.

Written for a younger audience, The Ruins of Gorlan lacks much of the detail of many fantasy novels, but makes up for this with an interesting story. I have now read this book twice, and even knowing the outcome I had a difficult time putting it down the second time. It is an easy read, but the characters are full of life and dimension.

Set in the fictional kingdom of Araluen, the Ranger’s Apprentice series mainly focuses on the adventures of a young orphan, Will. In The Ruins of Gorlan, Will is selected to become an apprentice to Halt, a member of the kingdom’s secretive and mysterious Ranger Corps. Founded over a hundred years earlier, the Rangers are an elite group of peacekeepers, tasked with defending the kingdom from both interior and exterior threats.

A parallel storyline follows Will’s fellow orphan Horace as he makes his way through the rigorous training of Battleschool. While Will learns that physical size is not what counts in a person, Horace deals with bullies and jealousy. With several plots and sub-plots, the book is really about two very different young men finding where they belong and accepting each other for who they are.

I would recommend The Ruins of Gorlan to anyone who enjoys a good read. With little in the way of sorcery and supernatural events, I believe it has appeal for both hard-core fantasy lovers and casual fantasy readers.

This review originally appeared 6 July 2012 on

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