Monday, January 19, 2009

Rangers Apprentice series

The sixth book of Ranger's Apprentice, John Flanagan's YA fantasy series is coming out this summer in the U.S.!

My 12-year-old discovered this series in September, finished the first book in a couple of days and immediately started the second one. He had nearly finished it when he got distracted by all things skateboarding. If there was skateboarding in The Ranger's Apprentice he'd have read the entire series in a week or so. Keep that in mind, ye writers of boy-friendly fantasy: an X-treme sport or two never hurts a boy book.

He's ready to get back to the series now, and he's been filling me in on the first two books. The series begins with fifteen-year-old Will hoping to become a warrior but alas, he's too small. When Ranger Halt chooses him to be an apprentice ranger, he's pretty bummed. It seems Rangers aren't as cool as Warriors. But Will turns out to be rather good at this Ranger stuff and he likes it more than he expected. Adventure ensues.

According to Ben, while there's some action, Flanagan is all about the characters. Ben's favorite is Ranger Halt, who reminds him of Quest on the cartoon The World of Quest, "except he doesn't kick Will over a fence or anything" and is nicer. Just for fun, here's a sample of Quest:

So, the Ranger is a man of few words and even fewer displays of emotion. Ben describes one especially memorable scene from the second book: "Will defeats a boar and everyone's like, Yay!! and the Ranger just sort of nods politely toward him, and another character says, 'For the Ranger, that was like 3 cheers.'"

Ben also liked the way the book shifts perspective occasionally, so every few chapters the reader is following another of the boys who's training to be (I believe) a warrior.

Any recommendations for realistic fiction with a contemporary setting for a 12 year old boy, preferably with skateboards? What fantasy book (child or adult) do you recommend to people who don't love fantasy?


  1. I usually recommend Jim Butcher's Dresden books to adults who aren't sure about fantasy. It's mostly urban mystery-type plots, with just enough fantasy. My sister loves Ranger's Apprentice, so I'd be passing this book to her. She's 14. :)

    screamingicecube at bellsouth dot net

  2. Well, the Septimus Heap books are fun to read. I also love the old Wizard of Oz books, easy, imaginative and fun. You can contact me at

  3. I've not read the Ranger's Apprentice series, but both of my boys just finished book 5, so this contest is most timely. I told my boys about the contest, but I'm writing because I love recommending books.

    Skateboarding books:
    Skateboard Tough (magical skateboard) and Skateboard Renegade (learning to fit in by being different) by Matt Christopher (for younger readers);
    Grind (Orca Soundings series) by Eric Walters (injury, friendship & building a website);
    Paranoid Park by Blake Nelson (local author & setting, but gruesome death & resulting guilt);
    Sk8er Boy by Mari Mancusi (Harvard-bound girl falls for "skater boy");
    Slam by Nick Hornby (main character talks to Tony Hawk to help him deal with, among other things, his girlfriend's pregnancy)

    Realistic fiction that I would recommend:
    Hoot by Carl Hiaasen (saving owls)
    Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie Tolan (homeschooling)
    Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick (brotherly love)
    Stand Tall by Joan Bauer (family relations & self-acceptance)
    Holes by Louis Sacher (just in case he hasn't read it)

    I had a friend tell me yesterday that her daughter doesn't like fantasy but we got her hooked on the Redwall series.

    Thanks for hosting the contest!
    Stephanie (

  4. Hi Ali, Thanks for letting me know about your giveaway. No need to enter me. I added to my Giveaways Galore post.

  5. I have 4 boys aged 8 - 17 who love Ranger's Apprentice, but Aaron is the official owner of the series. He's giddy at the thought that he might get to read book #6 before the official release.

    One of my favorite Worducopia posts is Watching My Boy Read.

    I asked Scott about ideas for fantasy books for non fantasy lovers. His recommendation is Inkheart. City of Ember comes to my mind, and he agrees that would be a good one because it's not overly "fantasyish".

    You know how to contact me.

  6. Oops, I didn't mean to be SO anonymous. :)


  7. LOL! I knew who you were. I have three consistent anonymous commenters and I can almost always tell you apart from the content of your comments. One's my sister, one's a local friend, and one's you.

  8. Hi, My 11 year old grandson is an avid reader. His teacher is amazed at the quantity and quality of books, he reads. Too many books to recommend all so just one will do. Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie Tolan Thank you for this chance I do not have a blog or facebook or titter or such I have no idea how or why I would do this. But a book is wonderful.

  9. I recommend the Fablehaven series of books by Brandon Mull to anyone. They are classified as YA but I'm an OA and I loved them.

  10. I am a BIG fan of Piers Anthony's Xanth series.

    I blogged about your contest:


  11. -This sounds like a good book! I have teens and a 9 year old nephew who is especially interested in reading and would love to try this.
    -Charlie Bone is a series we've started and we finished A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Spiderwick Chronicles. All were good and had a contemporary setting for the most part.
    -I've added this to my blog

    Thanks so much for your contest!

  12. I would recommend the Harry Potter books to someone who normally does read fantasy.

  13. I would pass this book on to my daughter who is 10.

  14. KYA! I love this series! This is one of the best YA i have ever read.

    Another one that i recomend to you is Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

    Very nice.

  15. Thanks, Ed, I'll look into Graceling. :-)