14 November 2010

Ranger's Apprentice: Erak's Ransom by John Flanagan

What does it mean to earn the Silver Oakleaf? So few men have done so. For Will, a mere boy, that symbol of honor has long felt out of reach. Now, in the wake of Araluen’s uneasy truce with the raiding Skandians comes word that the Skandian leader has been captured by a dangerous desert tribe. The Rangers are sent to free him. But the desert is like nothing these warriors have seen before. Strangers in a strange land, they are brutalized by sandstorms, beaten by the unrelenting heat, tricked by one tribe that plays by its own rules, and surprisingly befriended by another. Like a desert mirage, nothing is as it seems. Yet one thing is constant: the bravery of the Rangers.

In this red-hot adventure, winner of the Australian Book of the Year Award for Older Children, John Flanagan raises the stakes on the series that has already sold millions of copies worldwide.

  • My god!  This was such an AWESOME book.  It was such an adrenaline-pumping experience!  I'm not even kidding.  As I was reading, I could feel my heart beating faster and my breath speeding up...Oh man, John Flanagan really knows how to write!  And the best part is, he does this every single one of his books.  I hope he continues on with the Ranger's Apprentice books.  He's already up to nine, but I love these characters so much and the whole setup--I hope he keeps going.
  • One thing I've noticed is that great books do not come from a few months of thinking.  Oh no.  This is the product of years.  Why do you think books like the Lord of the Rings and Eragon are so good?  Because the authors took their time.  They were meticulous in their planning and paid attention to detail and the result was a world rich with believability and details that sustain the imagination.  So think about the thought that went into this whole world to keep it going for nine books...Yeah.  It's mind-boggling, isn't it?  Not something put together in three months then called done.
  • Wow.  There was this one moment in the middle of the book that just had me going--Oh crap.  Just pause and catch your breath for a moment, Amelia!  I was sitting in my chair, squealing, going, "Oh no!  Oh no!  Holy crap!"  And then!  (Oh yeah, it gets better.)  At the end--if you've read John Flanagan, you know that the climaxes are always heart stopping--the end was fantastic!  John Flanagan knows how to balance out "happily ever after" with reality.  Most authors get flimsy and go SUPER easy on their characters.  Whoa, not this dude!  And that's what makes the characters so awesome to read about!  They seem so real because they've suffered losses the same way we do and they live through them and change and mature.
  • For those who say nay--if you're going, meh, not my thing--think again!  There is plenty of action in this book!  And okay, so not that kind of action.  There is romance but it isn't the center of the book.  (If you've been looking for a break from the depths of drama you get from teenage romance novels, look no farther!)  Tracking a band of murdering cutthroats across a barren desert?  Planning to infiltrate a town to rescue your friends?  Nearly dying attempting to rescue your horse?  There is more than plenty of action to go around.  (And I really had to choose carefully from the wide array of events so I don't give anything away.)
  • A note on the characters:
    • I think, above all, Will is still my favorite character.  In many ways, he reminds me of Harry Potter--honorable heart, brave but unsure of himself before he finds his place; a natural leader and skilled at what he does.  
    • But GOD!  I freaking love Evanlyn's (Cassandra's) character!  That girl really knows how it's done!  Nowadays, you often expect the princess to be an independent figure, fighting for a place outside of the crown, but have you noticed how most times, the princess is still whiny and incapable?  Not in this case!  Cassandra knows a) how to use a weapon effectively; b) has a good sense of humor and wit; and c) can hold her own not only on the battlefield, but in delicate negotiations.  What's there NOT to admire?
    • You know who would play a FANTASTIC Halt?!  Jeremy Irons!  He played Brom in Eragon and has a boatload of acting experience.  He has this gruffy, serious by mysterious appearance that covers a soft heart--it would fit Halt perfectly!  He doesn't fit ONE characteristic though: Halt's supposed to be a small figure, yes?  Well, Jeremy Irons isn't small. :(  But that is a mere technicality.  If Ranger's Apprentice were to be made into a movie, Jeremy Irons NEEDS to be Halt. :)
  • If you're a fan of the previous books, you won't be disappointed with this new installment.  It carries every aspect of John Flanagan's signature.  The characters mature, are given new tests, discover new feelings, have new experiences.  A purely fantastic adventure!  I loved it!
Book Info:
  • pages - hardcover, 373
  • published - January 2010 (USA); November 2007 (Australia)
  • publisher - Philomel
  • genre - fantasy
  • series - Ranger's Apprentice #7
  • books in series -
    • Ruins of Gorlan
    • The Burning Bridge
    • The Icebound Land
    • The Battle for Skandia (USA title); Oakleaf Bearers (Australian title)
    • The Sorcerer in the North
    • The Siege of Mackindaw
    • Erak's Ransom
    • Kings of Clonmel
    • Halt's Peril
  • Received via - Borders :)