Monday, May 30, 2011

The Ranger's Apprentice

This series is great for young adults just breaking into the fantasy genre. There's not to much "magic", they follow a good storyline of a young man and his friends, and tend to have a good message to them. I read through them fairly quickly and really enjoyed it.
A quick synopsis:


As an apprentice


Will is an apprentice throughout the books The Ruins of Gorlan, The Burning Bridge, The Icebound Land, Oakleaf Bearers, Erak's Ransom, and The Battle for Skandia. The first four books tell the story of Will's first two years as an apprentice while Erak's Ransom told about Will's final mission as an apprentice.
Alongside others, Will is an orphan in Castle Redmont. At age 15, the orphans are expected to either become an apprentice or go off to work in the fields. After much stressing and suspicion of his own behalf, Will is chosen to become a Ranger. Rangers are the intelligence force and unofficial 'police' of Araluen. They have mastered the art of unseen and unheard movement, camouflage, knife throwing, knife fighting skills and long-range weaponry, specifically the long bow. However, Will is too small to use a long bow, so he uses a recurve bow. This is a bow that curves in the opposite direction at the ends. After being an apprentice for a few days, Halt takes Will to see his horse Tug. With Tug, Will trains in the skills needed to pass his assessment at the annual Ranger meeting, called The Gathering. However, The Gathering is cut short with rumors of Morgarath's underlings, ugly creatures that look like a mix of ape and bear which walks up-right like the wargals , called Kalkara breaking through the Three Step Pass, the only known access into Morgarath's lair in the Mount


ains of Rain and Night.
In the second book, The Burning Bridge, a war is approaching and Will, Gilan, and Horace, Will's friend from Battleschool, are sent to Celtica to ask for reinforcements. However, when they arrive they realize Wargals, Bearlike monsters working for Morgarath, have slaughtered the entire city and only one person survived, a girl named Evanlyn. Gilan moves on ahead of Will and Horace to report to the King. Meanwhile, the three ride about a day behind Gilan and encounter Wargals. They follow them to the Fissure; a deep gorge thought to be impassable. The Celtica miners were all captured to complete a bridge across the Fissure. The bridge would allow Morgarath's army to assault the King's army straight from behind destroying the King's forces. Will, Horace and Evanlyn burn the bridge, but Evanlyn and Will are captured in the process. Horace rides back with the horses and meets up with Gilan and a group of infantry trying to rescue Evanlyn, who is in truth, the Crown Princess Cassandra. Horace tells Gilan what happened and they ride back to the main army. The war goes well with the bridge destroyed and Horace kills Morgarath in a last ditch attempt by throwing Morgarath off balance.
Will and Evanlyn are taken as slaves to Skandia, a frozen, pine forested neighboring country north-east of the Araluen border. Will is forced to work outside in the bitter cold of The Yard. He quickly becomes addicted to warmweed, a drug that gives a person warmth, but builds up addiction and destroys the mind. The Skandian who captured Will and Evanlyn, Erak, sets up a plot to rid Will of his addiction and escape with Evanlyn. The two succeed in escaping, and take refuge in a small log cabin for winter. While there, Will overcomes his addiction with much help from Evanlyn. To rescue Will and Evanlyn, Horace and Halt also set off for Skandia.
While living in the log cabin Evanlyn is captured by a Temujai warrior, the Temujai are a fierce, nomadic tribe of horse warriors from the east and masters of the recurve bow. Will tries to rescue her, but almost fails until Horace and Halt come along. Halt captures one Temujai alive and realizes the Temujai are back to try and take over the western world again. 20 years earlier they almost succeeded until politics, and a serving of bad shellfish, got in the way. Halt agrees to help Skandia drive off the Temujai since Halt feels if the Temujai defeat the Skandians, they will attack Araluen next. The Skandians win the battle, but the Oberjarl (leader of Skandians) dies and Erak is chosen as the new Oberjarl. After returning home Horace is knighted and Will is offered the position as the lieutenant of the Royal Scouts, the country's archery trainers. Will does not accept the offer knowing that the Ranger life is his true calling.
A few years later Will is in his final year as an apprentice Ranger. Erak the Oberjarl has been captured by the Arridi, sand nomads. Princess Cassandra goes along with Will, Gilan, Halt, and Svengal (Erak's second in command) to pay the ransom. However, violent sandstorms, warring tribes, and danger everywhere may keep them from reaching Erak in time to secure his release. At the end Will is made a full Ranger and receives his Silver Oakleaf.

Will's first mission

After receiving his Silver Oakleaf and given a fief to take care of, Will takes on his first mission as a full Ranger throughout the books of The Sorcerer in the North and The Siege of Macindaw. A few days after arriving in the fief, Will is sent north to Macindaw in order to investigate claims of sorcery. The lord of the castle, Syron, was poisoned by an unknown substance. Many believe a sorcerer to be the cause of the illness since Syron's ancestor was also once poisoned by a sorcerer. Alyss is sent up to help Will, but is captured by the rogue knight Keren, also responsible for poisoning Syron. Will manages to escape and enlists the help of the sorcerer who is in fact a gifted healer called Malcolm. Horace is also sent up north by Halt when Will does not send a message in a long time.
To rescue the castle and Alyss, Horace and Will devise a plan. They receive the help of the Skandians that Will gave supplies to and use them to assault the castle. Horace explains that to successfully capture a castle, a three-to-one ratio is needed. With only about 25 Skandians and 35 soldiers in the castle this would seem impossible. Malcolm, the sorcerer who is actually a very skilled healer and a scientist sets up some conjurations that draw the attention of the soldiers in the castle to one side, allowing Will and Horace to enter the castle on the opposite side. Soon the Skandians also enter the castle. Will quickly climbs up to the dungeon where Alyss is being held. However, Alyss was hypnotized into believing Will is the enemy. Will tells Alyss that, "I love you, I always have," and the hypnosis is broken. As Keren attacks Will, she throws acid into his face and Keren stumbles backwards and falls out the window while the Skandians are able to take control of the castle.
Will returns to his fief with his first mission as a full Ranger a success. At his log cabin he receives a letter from Alyss stating that Will told her in a dream that he loved her. Horace tells her that although it seems like a dream, it might not be. She writes in the letter, "I love you." Will leaves his log cabin again with Tug, to deliver his own letter to Alyss.

The Outsiders

In Kings of Clonmel and Halt's Peril, Will, Halt and Horace are sent to Clonmel to prevent a cult called the Outsiders from taking power. The cult offers to protect a village from bandits that are actually part of the Outsiders in exchange for gold. When the village has been stripped of its possessions, the cult runs off to the next village. In this fashion, they take over five of the six kingdoms of Hibernia. Halt, Will and Horace are sent to Clonmel, the last section, to try to prevent the cult from expanding into Araluen. Halt tries to persuade his twin brother, King Ferris, to use his troops to drive the cult out. In the end, the cult loses power in Clonmel, but the leader, Tennyson, runs away to try to reach the other five sections, which he controls. Will, Halt and Horace leave Clonmel to chase the false prophet. After reaching a smuggler's port and managing to get information on Tennyson's whereabouts, the trio hires a ship to take them to Picta, where a smuggler had taken him. The chase is on as the three pursue him through a drowned forest, and finally, at an encounter with Tennyson's hired assassins, Halt is shot with a poisoned arrow and incapacitated. Due to Picta's geographical location being near Macindaw, Will does a tiring one-day one-night ride to reach Malcolm, the man that assisted them before and is possibly the best healer in all of Araluen, if not the world. After bringing the healer back, Will learns that Halt was poisoned with a toxin that has another toxin extremely similar to it, and the both have antidotes, but the wrong one will kill him. Will then captures the assassin that fired the arrow, and forces him into telling which type of toxin he used, and Malcolm cures Halt. Later that night, the assassin tries to escape, but Will manages to kill him before he does. The group, on the move again, manage to find that Tennyson is up to his old tricks again and is trying to swindle the money out of more countrymen. Using Halt's similarity to King Ferris, whom Tennyson murdered, they manage to discredit Tennyson in front of the farmers. The trio then proceeds to use their reputation as Rangers and drives the men off. They then manage to kill Tennyson by dropping all of Malcolm's self-made noisemakers, causing a cave-in that buries Tennyson and his followers in the debris, giving Halt, Horace, and Will a heroes' welcome when they return to Araluen.

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja is the tenth and latest installment in the Ranger's Apprentice book series by Australian author John Flanagan. In this adventure Horace is studying Nihon-Ja fighting techniques and Will and Halt are on a diplomatic mission with Alyss. When Horace finds out there is a rebellion against the emperor his instincts kick in and he, as always, gets involved. Back in Araluen, Evanlyn thinks Horace has gone missing. She shows up unexpectedly to ask a suspicious Alyss, Will and Halt for help, along with Selethen and the Skandians. Meanwhile Horace is risking his life for the emperor. Overcoming death and despair he stumbles upon Will and his other friends. Can they figure out a way to save the emperor?  Find out here:


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kindle 3G with Special Offers

Check out the new Kindle 3G with Special Offers. Apparently you can get the Kindle with a few ads, for a slightly reduced price. I don't know how most people feel about that, but it would definitely bother me.

There are quit a few good offers included. Visit Kindle 3G, Free 3G + Wi-Fi, 3G Works Globally, Graphite, 6" Display with New E Ink Pearl Technology to check it out!