I apologize for my tardiness. I hope you weren’t all too disappointed not to get your regularly scheduled Six Degrees post yesterday… we were on vacation last week with my husband’s family (extended family, grandparents, aunt/uncle, cousins… it was a blast!) and I got a cold and was still recuperating into the beginning of this week. I’m feeling a bit better, now, and ready to play Six Degrees of Kool Books once again! (More information about the Six Degrees meme and how you can join in can be found HERE)
Last week, DJ talked about the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series, which I have not read, but I have seen the movie, again, thanks to DJ’s recommendation. My family enjoyed it quite a lot. It’s a very fun fantasy movie, with gorgeous animation, tons of adventure, and just enough humor.
He talked about a character in that series named Lyze of Kiel - whom he describes thusly: “This legendary owl is long past his prime, but was once the greatest warrior amongst all the Guardians. His gruff exterior hides a heart of gold and he takes a special liking to Soren.”
This instantly put me in the mind of another character, one named Halt from John Flanagan’s “The Ranger’s Apprentice” series. This is a fun, young reader fantasy series. I haven’t finished all the books yet, but really enjoyed the ones I did read and have every intention of finishing the series at some point. But getting into the characters a bit:
Halt, like Lyze of Kiel, is something of a legend. One of the mysterious cloaked Rangers for the king, he is older, gruff, and may look like he’s a bit past his prime. He’s been keeping an eye on young Will Treaty for years. Will is an orphan who has been brought up as a ward of Castle Redmont, living on the generosity of Baron Arald. The Baron is the most trustworthy, dependable character you’ll ever find in a story. As an added bonus, he’s a good friend to both Halt and the king. He looks after Will like a son, and treats his people with nothing but kindness.
Will dreams of being chosen to go to Battle School (what they call the training program for attaining knighthood). However, he knows it’s a long-shot, because he’s so small. Through a fun series of choices and events, Will ends up being chosen as Halt’s apprentice, learning the secret and mysterious arts of a Ranger. (And cleaning Halt’s cottage as well as other various tasks that Will doesn’t appreciate at first).
Another ward of Castle Redmont is a young man named Horace. Tall, broad-shouldered, naturally skilled with a sword, and a bit obnoxious, he’s everything Will is not. At first, this leads to rivalry between the two of them, and a lot of animosity. But eventually they grow to respect each other’s strengths and become very close friends.
Another one of Will’s friends at the castle is a young woman named Alyss Mainwaring. She is Will’s oldest and dearest friend, and gets chosen to train as a courier and later as a diplomat. She is brave and kind, as well as beautiful, calm, and possesses a quick wit.
Possibly my favorite character in the series is Evanlyn (though she is known by another name later in the series). She has the most personality of any of the characters except maybe for Halt. She is determined, calm, and when she sets her mind to something it is impossible to dissuade her from her chosen course of action. This stubbornness gets her into trouble at times, but also makes her a captivating character with a lot of spunk and a “go-getter” attitude that is appealing.
There are a lot of books in this series, and therefore a lot of secondary characters. The only other main characters worth mentioning, however, are Gilan - Halt’s former apprentice, who is now a full-fledged Ranger. He tends to joke around and act rather light-hearted, but he is very serious about his duties. He is very skilled at moving without being seen and takes great pleasure in attempting to sneak up on his former mentor, Halt. The final important character is Erak, a Skandian Jarl (captain) of the wolfship Wolfwind. He is an excellent navigator and a somewhat stereotypical “Viking” sort of character, more interested in using his battle-axe than his words. However, he also has a softer side, and becomes rather fond of Will throughout the series, becoming at least an ally, perhaps even a friend.
Though this story is told in a very easy-to-read manner, the characters have quite a lot of depth for being middle-grade fantasy, and the plots are more complex than I was expecting. They’re no Lord of the Rings, but they are fun, entertaining, and I found nothing objectionable in the first 7 books of the series. They are a fun jaunt. I recommend them.
Have you read this series? What did you think of it?