Ranger’s Apprentice 7: Erak’s Ransom by John Flanagan

Ranger's Apprentice 7: Erak's Ransom by John FlanaganBlurb

When the Skandian Oberjarl is taken hostage during a raid on the desert land of Arrida, his second-in-command, Svengal, asks the Araluans for help. Halt and Will must go with him to deliver the ransom and secure Erak’s freedom, but a royal presence is needed. The Princess Cassandra – or Evanlyn, as Will knows her – persuades her father to let her go with them. Horace and the Ranger Gilan round out the group to make sure that Evanlyn is well protected. But will violent sandstorms, warring tribes and danger at every turn keep them from reaching Erak in time?

The seventh book takes us back to the final year of Will’s apprenticeship, before the events related in Books 5 and 6.

My Perspective

I was excited to get back into The Ranger’s Apprentice series once we’d come home. If you remember from my first post Ranger’s Apprentice 1: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan, a customer was lending the books to me. I obviously didn’t want to take them overseas with me, for both baggage allowance and that I didn’t want to ruin/lose them.

Erak’s Ransom doesn’t lead on from the last book, The Siege of Macindaw, it takes you back to before Will finishes his apprenticeship. Erak, the Oberjarl of Skandia, is captured and held to ransom by the Arridi, while he is on a raid. Svengal, his first mate, seeks the help of the kingdom of Araluen and Will, Halt, Horace, Evanlyn (Princess Cassandra), and Gilan with the rest of the wolf ship crew journey back to Arrida to negotiate the ransom and free Erak. However not everything goes according to plan.

I was really happy that the book went back to before Will graduated. As I mentioned in The Sorcerer in The North, I was a little disappointed that they’d missed the rest of his apprenticeship and graduation.

I was really impressed with the book as the author had to reduce Will’s maturity to before The Sorcerer in The North however after Oakleaf Bearers, and he did a great job at doing so.

Will was again a great character. He obviously wasn’t perfect and he did make some mistakes however he was as loveable and faithful as ever. I was a little surprised at Halt’s character to be honest. I wouldn’t say in a bad way, or that he was unbelievable, it was just a surprise that came out of nowhere. Horace, Gilan, Erak and Svengal were all their usual steadfast and likeable selves. I was a lot more impressed with Evanlyn and she really held her own in this book.

I found that the book as a whole reduced in the maturity that I mentioned in Oakleaf Bearers, which I found surprising as this story was meant to be after that. I’m not sure if this was because the author was trying to make it clear that this book is meant to take place before The Sorcerer in The North. I didn’t mind so much that it was like this, it was a bit more lighthearted.

The book was really enjoyable and interesting. There were many times that my heart was in my mouth and I was holding my breath for quite a few pages. I’m looking forward to reading the next book.

I would definitely recommend this book for children, young adults and even adults if you like fantasy and adventure. However you really need to start at the beginning with the first book, The Ruins of Gorlan.

Ranger’s Apprentice 5: The Sorcerer in the North by John Flanagan

Ranger's Apprentice 5: The Sorcerer in the North by John FlanaganBlurb

Five years have passed since the Skandians and the Araluans made their treaty, and Will has finally become a Ranger, with his own fief to look after. He soon learns that even sleepy little islands have problems to keep him on his toes.

Then he and his old friend Alyss are thrown into a terrifying new adventure, investigating the truth behind rumours of sorcery in a remote northern fief. As he stands in Grimsdell Wood, with the horrific, ghostly Night Warrior looming above him, Will must ask himself one question: is there a rational explanation . . . or does sorcery really exist?

On his first top-secret mission, can Will save a new ally from a terrible curse?

My Perspective

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a mini break from the Ranger’s Apprentice series – however not by choice! As soon as I finished Cairo Jim, I started The Sorcerer in the North and finished it that evening.

The Sorcerer in the North is set five years after the last book Oakleaf Bearers, and Will has finished his apprenticeship and been assigned his own fief. However not long after being assigned, he is sent on a mission up in the north because mysterious happenings have been taking place.

I was a little sad to have missed out on the journey of the rest of Will’s apprenticeship however the five year gap was transitioned well.

Will is still the same old Will. He’s just a little older and a little more mature. He still has a fierce heart and the character that makes him so loveable. I was glad that Halt and Horace were briefly in the book – I would have been quite sad if neither of them had made an appearance! Alyss is obviously more of a main character in this book and I like her a lot. I’m not sure whether I like her close relationship with Will however I think that’s just because I don’t think anyone will ever be good enough for him. Alyss is a really strong female character, which I liked. She’s smart, independent and can very much take care of herself. There are moments when she weakens however it makes her more realistic.

I liked how some of the different storylines in the book intertwined. I also appreciated that there were a few different paths that the author lead you down. When I look back at some of it, I feel like it should have been so obvious however I was so caught up in the story that I didn’t even realise until they were right on top of me.

I really enjoyed this book even though some of my favourite characters only appeared briefly. Also a warning that it leaves you on a cliffhanger!

I would definitely recommend this book for children and even adults if you like fantasy and adventure. However you really need to start at the beginning with the first book, The Ruins of Gorlan.

Cairo Jim & Doris In Search Of Martenarten: A Tale Of Archaeology, Adventure & Astonishment by Geoffrey McSkimming

Cairo Jim & Doris In Search Of Martenarten: A Tale Of Archaeology, Adventure & Astonishment by Geoffrey McSkimmingBlurb

Far away in Upper Egypt, in a place known as the Valley of the Kings, Cairo Jim (assisted by the hieroglyph-reading macaw Doris and Brenda the Wonder Camel) is searching for the lost tomb of Pharaoh Martenarten, Worshipper of the Moon and King of Ancient Egypt.

It is not an easy search. Plagued by uncertainty, the dauntless trio persevere in a harsh climate made all the more worse by dust, sand and petty skulduggery.

But these are the least of their troubles. Somebody of great deviousness, treachery and manicured evil wants what they are after. And he will stop at nothing to claim it for his own!

My Perspective

I’ve been ripping through the Ranger’s Apprentice series and when I finished Oakleaf Bearers, I had to wait over the weekend before I saw the customer who’s lending them to me to borrow the next two books in the series. I couldn’t wait that long to read a book but I didn’t want something too engrossing that would take me away from the Ranger’s Apprentice. So Cairo Jim it was.

Cairo Jim & Doris In Search Of Martenarten: A Tale Of Archaeology, Adventure & Astonishment is obviously about Cairo Jim, Doris and Brenda searching for the lost tomb of Marenaratan. The only problem is that there is also someone else searching and they will stop at nothing to find the tomb and claim it for themselves.

The story is written in a silly albeit will written style very suited to children. I still greatly enjoyed it however if you don’t like a bit of obvious silliness then you may not enjoy this book.

The characters were brilliant. Cairo Jim is such a soft soul, you can’t help but like him. Doris and Brenda are fantastic “side kicks” with their funny perks and they really add to the story. And the villains were everything children’s villains should be. Gross and slimy with grandiose ideas. I also love that the villain is a recurring villain in the Cairo Jim Chronicles. There is just something about them that makes you love and hate them at the same time.

The actual story was interesting however not as gripping as the Cairo Jim On The Trail To Cha Cha Muchos. I would still recommend it for children and adults who like a silly adventure/mystery with a bit of history thrown in.

Ranger’s Apprentice 4: Oakleaf Bearers by John Flanagan

Ranger's Apprentice 4: Oakleaf Bearers by John FlanaganBlurb

Just as spring approaches and Will and Evanlyn can finally escape Skandia, Evanlyn is carried off by mysterious horsemen. Will sets out after them, but one boy against six fierce Temujai warriors is impossible odds – even for a Ranger’s apprentice. Halt and Horace arrive just in time. But the happiness of their reunion is cut short when Halt realises these Temujai are only the scouts for a massive invasion force. The four Araluans must work together with the Skandians to defeat the invaders – if the Oberjarl will accept their help.

My Perspective

I read this book under the name ‘Oakleaf Bearers’ however it was also published under the name, ‘The Battle for Skandia’.

The book begins as the thaw is starting. Will and Evanlyn must consider their trek back to Araluen however before they’ve had a chance, Evanlyn is captured by a strange horseman. Meanwhile Halt and Horace have made it to the Skandian border. However what greets them changes everything.

The books are just getting better and better. I am hoping this means that the author has found his groove and he will stick with it!

There was a maturity about this book that I liked. The content was a little more detailed and gave greater credit to the reader.

I just love Will. He is such a great character. You’d think he couldn’t keep getting better and better but he does. You can see his growth in each book and it’s remarkable to see how far he has come. He’s certainly not a kid anymore. Obviously Halt and Horace are as likeable as ever. I did find Evanlyn’s character interesting. I didn’t like her in the second book. By the end of the third book I did and throughout this book I wavered between both feelings, coming to an unknown conclusion. I do find it hard to reconcile her as both Evanlyn and Princess Cassandra. I really liked the Skandians in the story (except for Slagor). They are a rough, brutish bunch with good hearts.

Again the pace was steady and the book was riveting, keeping me turning the pages long after my bedtime.

One thing I will say is that I’m a little wary about the love triangle that seems to be surfacing. I guess I feel like no one is good enough for Will!

I would definitely recommend this book for children and even adults if you like fantasy and adventure. However you really need to start at the beginning with the first book, The Ruins of Gorlan.