Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “John Flanagan”

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #36 & 37 Halt’s Peril and the Emperor of Nihon-Ja by John Flanagan

I’d been waiting patiently for these two books in the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan to come out in paperback format to add to my collection.  Amid the chaos or two daughters wrapping up their volleyball seasons and trying to recover from whiplash, reading became my little bit of escapism.

Halt’s Peril and The Emperor of Nihon-Ja are both true coming of age novels for the main characters Will and  Horace.  In the first novel, the famous King’s Ranger, his former apprentice and the young knight are pursuing members of the dangerous Outsiders cult when the unthinkable happens.  During an ambush by hired assassins, Halt is wounded by an arrow that turns out to be poisoned!  Roles are reversed as Halt lies dying and Will must ride across the rugged terrain to seek a former friend and ally. Malkallam the Sorcerer just might be the only one who can save Will’s beloved mentor.

Laced with the usual combination of dry wit, humour and epic adventure, Halt’s Peril is a touching glimpse into the letting go that must occur as people age.  Any teacher and student or parent and child knows there comes a time to let go and move on to a more balanced relationship.  Though Will has been a Ranger in his own right for a few years now, this novel captures all of the respect and admiration the young man has for his mentor, as well as the terrible realization that Halt is not invulnerable.

The second novel, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, deals more with Horace, a gifted young warrior and one of Will’s closest friends.  Sent on a diplomatic mission to the faraway kingdom of Nihon-Ja, Horace gets caught up in a coup against the lawful Emperor. Unwilling to leave the honorable man he has come to respect at the mercy of a usurper spreading lies about the countryside while hunting them down, Will flees with those loyal to the true Emperor towards a legendary city in the mountains that may offer a chance to defend themselves against grim odds.  Back in Araluen, Will, Alyss and Princess Evanlyn have learned of their friend’s peril and set off to help if they can.

This book was a wonderful conclusion to a sweeping adventure series that proves great fantasy begins with great characters.  Everyone shines in their roles and the interplay between the personalities is both enjoyable and touching.  They have truly grown, from the orphans who first chose their professions at the beginning of the series, to the competent young men and women they are in this final novel.  The Nihon-Ja kingdom is heavily based on the Japanese Samurai culture and includes many Japanese phrases.  Having visited Tokyo just over a year ago, I did notice one small error in an expression, but delighted in some of the other humour and cultural references that writer John  Flanagan wove into the tale.

Flanagan’s next adventures will take readers back into the past of his world, exploring a dozen years earlier with his new series called the Brotherband Chronicles. Book One: The Outcasts has been available in hardcover format for a while and Book Two:  The Invaders was just release in May.  I may not add the books to my shelves just yet, but they will certainly be worthy additions to my library when the time comes.  This Australian author writes with such enthusiasm, humour and authenticity, I am sure that his novels will be read for generations to come!

Halt’s Peril

Paperback format, 386 pages, hardcover published in 2009 by Puffin Books

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja

Paperback format, 435 pages, hardcover published in 2010 by Puffin Books

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #3 Erak’s Ransom by John Flanagan

After the wonderful conclusion to book 6 in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, I found myself wondering what author John Flanagan was going to do for Erak’s Ransom, the next installment in his epic and captivating fantasy series.  The Author’s Note at the beginning of the book explains to readers that this story actually takes place chronologically BEFORE the events in books 5 and 6.  Flanagan explains that it covers a period in both Will and his mentor Halt’s lives that came just before Will finished his Ranger training.  Like anyone who is in the last few months of schooling before a major graduation (to or from high school or even from University), Will is full of self-doubt about his ability to face the world on his own.

This  seventh book not only brings back some familiar characters from previous parts of the series, it also gives readers a much wider glimpse into the incredibly rich world that Flanagan has created.  Filled with desert tribesmen, peril and intrigue, this adventure also tests the limits of Will’s endurance and skill as he learns to make his own decisions and alliances.  The debate would then be whether or not to have someone read the books in chronological or sequential order.  While Erak’s Ransom does fill in some blanks and take place before the events that occur in books 5 & 6, I would still recommend reading them in their published order.  Some of the satisfying details provided by the author in this tale are all the richer for knowing what will unfold next when the characters themselves do not.

Paperback format,  373 pages, published by Puffin Books

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #2 The Siege of Macindaw by John Flanagan

This 6th book in Australian writer John Flanagan’s engaging Ranger’s Apprentice series picks up where the cliffhanger ending of book #5, The Sorcerer of the North, left off.  I dove right into the tale, eager to find out how the hero, Will Treaty, would find the proper balance between the duty to his king and the safety of his friend that had been left as a hostage in book 5. Flanagan’s characters are very believable with distinct personalities, unique quirks and endearing qualities that had me holding my breath as I began the first few chapters.

The Siege of Macindaw was delightful because it allowed the main characters to really come into their own. Both seem a far cry from the young orphans they were in the first novel when they each had to declare a profession. Will, who began as a lowly and unexpected apprentice to the famous Ranger, Halt, learns to trust his own instincts and ideas even if they seem unconventional.  Horace, the burly swordsman has not only grown in size and strength but in skill and bravery as well.  As I closed the last pages of the book, with its very satisfying conclusion, I found myself wondering how the rest of the series could possibly get any better than this 6th book.

Paperback format,  293 pages, published by Puffin Books

DragonDreamsJen’s #CBR4 Review #1 The Sorcerer of the North by John Flanagan

The Sorcerer of the North is the 5th book in Australian writer John Flanagan’s sweeping and highly captivating Ranger’s Apprentice series.   I inhaled the first 4 of these YA novels in December after hearing about them from a friend. Some of my favourite fiction over the past few years has been in the Young Adult novel category, yet I was a bit hesitant to start what seemed to be a fantasy series written more for a male audience.  I needn’t have worried.  Flanagan’s strong, clean style, dry humour and captivatingly complex characters soon had me hooked.

This book opens with the young Ranger, Will, journeying to accept his first posting as a Ranger in his own right, having spent the first 4 novels as an apprentice to the notorious, mysterious Halt.  Will heads to the sleepy seaside fief that will be his assignment to settle in and act as the King’s eyes and ears. Like the blistering pace of the first novels, nothing stays as it seems for long.  To the North, the lord of another fief is struck down by a mysterious illness and rumours of a legendary sorcerer have resurfaced.  Will is thrust into a web of intrigue when the Ranger Corps asks him to visit the area posing as a simple jongleur/minstrel.  When one of his closest friends ends up in jeopardy, Will discovers that it will take all of the skills learned from his famous mentor, Halt, as well as learning to trust his own instincts to discover who is friend and who is foe.  The cliffhanger ending had me racing to the bookstore to buy the 6th book the same day I finished this one!

Don’t let the Young Adult label fool you.  This series is fantasy at its finest in a rich setting with memorable characters that will enchant male and female readers alike!

Paperback format,  295 pages, published by Puffin Books

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