The Burning Bridge (Ranger's Apprentice Series #2)

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Will, a promising Ranger apprentice, will need every ounce of his courage to thwart the evil lord Morgarath. With the help of his Battleschool friend Horace, he pursues a desperate plan to save the Kingdom of Araluen.

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The Burning Bridge (Ranger's Apprentice Series #2)

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Will, a promising Ranger apprentice, will need every ounce of his courage to thwart the evil lord Morgarath. With the help of his Battleschool friend Horace, he pursues a desperate plan to save the Kingdom of Araluen.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Joyce Rice
The six page prologue reintroduces the main characters—Halt, the senior ranger, and Will, the apprentice ranger—as they continue their search for the Wargals that fight for Morgarath. This long-awaited sequel to The Ruins of Gorlan will not disappoint the reader. Halt and Will engage in battle with the small-brained Wargals who are more beast than man and are completely controlled by Morgarath. As a secret plot is revealed to them, they strike out to deliver news of the threat to the king. In the process, Will and Halt receive orders to pursue separate journeys and Will's new company is an old enemy now considered a friend—the young warrior Horace. The senior member of this new party is Gilan, a young Ranger with an enormous talent for strategy and battle. In the ensuing adventure, Gilan and his charges will rescue a young damsel in distress, continue to train for battle, and discover some alarming changes in the original battle plan that was delivered to the king. Gilan's decision to leave the three young charges on their own and continue quickly to the king, brings disastrous results. Young Will determines to remain loyal to the king and to his mentor Halt, the Ranger. Will and Horace will develop a deep and abiding friendship and both Will and Horace will be called on to demonstrate their courage. The story ends leaving the reader begging for the next book. This is an enticing new series that will capture the imagination of both boys and girls in the middle school range who are looking for fantasy selections. From the "Ranger's Apprentice" series.
Much like its predecessor's jumpstart prologue, this sequel leaps into action as if there is no time to waste, picking right up where Ruins of Gorlan (Philomel, 2002/VOYA December 2005) left off. Halt and Will are tracking Wargals, war is pending, and Morgarath is gathering followers. Fans will recall that Wargals are bad, Morgarath is worse, and Halt and Will are sort of reconnaissance/messenger/foresters in a medieval-styled fantasy world on the brink of civil war. Will, having earned a silver oak leaf, is now entrusted with traveling as emissary to Celtica and gets mixed up in the middle of solving the mystery of why miners have gone missing. Is it part of Morgarath's evil plan? New characters are introduced, each as delightfully complex as the last. Will, Horace, and Alyss mature, and Evanlyn, a rescued refugee is an interesting addition. Halt remains gruff and unintentionally humorous. Honing new skills such as knife combat and near misses with arrows make for exciting scenes. Details are carefully placed, and clues to the denouement are mentioned early. Politics and geography play noticeably larger roles in this book, resulting in a deeper and richer story: Military success hinges on the control of a specific narrow mountain pass. The book's title and fiery cover give away the climatic ending, and occasionally the plot's direction is too obvious, but a surprise twist will keep readers on pins and needles waiting for the next book. Purchase this one where book one was popular. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, Philomel, 259p.,Ages 11 to 15.
—Beth Gallaway
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-In the second volume in this series, apprentice Ranger Will becomes involved once again in the war against the evil Morgarath. When he joins what should be a simple envoy mission, he and his companions realize that they are the only ones who know the extent of Morgarath's duplicity, and it's up to them to save the kingdom. Will and his friend Horace, along with noblewoman-in-disguise Evanlyn, make a dangerous journey and discover that Wargals, Morgarath's mindless warriors, are infiltrating their kingdom, and their brave actions at the "burning bridge" of the title lead to Will's and Evanlyn's capture and much room for sequels. Will's initial doubts and learning process add reality to his character, but his exploits never achieve true immediacy. Background characters are generally flat, though touches of humor add spice to the narrative. Flanagan creates a well-realized picture of life on the trail and its hardships, but his battles and their resolution seem almost too easy. Fans of the first volume will enjoy this adventure, but readers new to the series may not share their excitement.-Beth L. Meister, Pleasant View Elementary School, Franklin, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
More absorbing, straight-arrow adventures set in the medieval, alternate world kingdom of Araluen and featuring the three apprentices introduced in The Ruins of Gorlan (2005). As the brutish wargals of Morgorath, Lord of Rain and Night, gather for an invasion, deft young Will and his strapping friend Horace discover that Morgorath has planned a complex feint that, unless scotched, will spell doom for the armies of Araluen. The third apprentice, diplomat-in-training Alyss, is relegated to a subplot in this outing, but is sure to play larger roles in future episodes. Flanagan explains more than he needs to but propels the plot forward at a heady clip, stirring in live-wire characters who are still learning the finer points of their assigned professions but prove equal to each challenge they face. He also adds to the company a young fugitive who is far more than the lady's maid she claims to be, and closes with the requisite battle, a breathtaking single combat-and a dismaying lead-in to the next episode. It all adds up to a winning formula that should prove out to a long, steady run for this above average series. (Fantasy. 11-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781428110533
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/1/2006
  • Series: Ranger's Apprentice Series , #2
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

John  Flanagan

John Flanagan grew up in Sydney, Australia, hoping to be a writer. John began writing Ranger’s Apprentice for his son, Michael, ten years ago, and is still hard at work on the series and its spinoff, Brotherband Chronicles. He currently lives in the suburb of Manly, Australia, with his wife. In addition to their son, they have two grown daughters and four grandsons.

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Read an Excerpt


Halt and Will had been trailing the Wargals for three days. The four heavy-bodied, brutish creatures, foot soldiers of the rebel warlord Morgarath, had been sighted passing through Redmont Fief, heading north. Once word reached the Ranger, he had set out to intercept them, accompanied by his young apprentice.

“Where could they have come from, Halt?” Will asked during one of their short rest stops. “Surely we’ve got Three Step Pass well and truly bottled up by now.”

Three Step Pass provided the only real access between the Kingdom of Araluen and the Mountains of Rain and Night, where Morgarath had his headquarters. Now that the kingdom was preparing for the coming war with Morgarath, a company of infantry and archers had been sent to reinforce the small permanent garrison at the narrow pass until the main army could assemble.

“That’s the only place where they can come in sizable numbers,” Halt agreed. “But a small party like this could slip into the kingdom by way of the barrier cliffs.”

Morgarath’s domain was an inhospitable mountain plateau that towered high above the southern reaches of the kingdom. From Three Step Pass in the east, a line of sheer, precipitous cliffs ran roughly due west, forming the border between the plateau and Araluen. As the cliffs swung southwest, they plunged into another obstacle called the Fissure—a huge split in the earth that ran out to the sea, and separated Morgarath’s lands from the kingdom of the Celts.

It was these natural fortifications that had kept Araluen, and neighboring Celtica, safe from Morgarath’s armies for the past sixteen years. Conversely, they also provided the rebel warlord with protection from Araluen’s forces.

“I thought those cliffs were impassable,” Will said. Halt allowed himself a grim smile. “Nowhere is ever really impassable. Particularly if you have no respect for how many lives you lose trying to prove the fact. My guess is that they used ropes and grapnels and waited for a moonless night and bad weather. That way, they could slip past the border patrols.”

He stood, signifying that their rest stop was at an end. Will rose with him and they moved toward their horses. Halt gave a small grunt as he swung into the saddle. The wound he had suffered in the battle with the two Kalkara still troubled him a little.

“My main concern isn’t where they came from,” he continued. “It’s where they’re heading, and what they have in mind.”

The words were barely spoken when they heard a shout from somewhere ahead of them, followed by a commotion of grunting and, finally, the clash of weapons.

“And we may be about to find out!” Halt finished.

He urged Abelard into a gallop, controlling the horse with his knees as his hands effortlessly selected an arrow and nocked it to the string of his massive longbow. Will scrambled into Tug’s saddle and galloped after him. He couldn’t match Halt’s hands-free riding skill. He needed his right hand for the reins as he held his own bow ready in his left.

They were riding through sparse woodland, leaving it to the surefooted Ranger horses to pick the best route. Suddenly, they burst clear of the trees into a wide meadow. Abelard, under his rider’s urging, slid to a stop, Tug following suit beside him. Dropping the reins to Tug’s neck, Will instinctively reached for an arrow from his quiver and nocked it ready.

A large fig tree grew in the middle of the cleared ground. At the base of it there was a small camp. A wisp of smoke still curled from the fireplace and a pack and blanket roll lay beside it. The four Wargals they had been tracking surrounded a single man, who had his back to the tree. For the moment his long sword held them at bay, but the Wargals were making small feinting movements toward him, trying to find an advantage. They were armed with short swords and axes and one carried a heavy iron spear.

Will drew in a sharp breath at the sight of the creatures. After following their trail for so long, it was a shock to come upon them so suddenly in plain sight. Bearlike in build, they had long muzzles and massive yellow canine fangs, exposed now as they snarled at their prey. They were covered in shaggy fur and wore black leather armor. The man was dressed similarly and his voice cracked in fear as he repelled their tentative attacks.

“Stand back! I’m on a mission for Lord Morgarath. Stand back, I order you! I order you in Lord Morgarath’s name!”

Halt nudged Abelard around, allowing him room to draw the arrow he had ready on the string.

“Drop your weapons! All of you!” he shouted. Five pairs of eyes swung toward him as the four Wargals and their prey turned in surprise. The Wargal with the spear recovered first. Realizing that the swordsman was distracted, he darted forward and ran the spear into his body. A second later, Halt’s arrow buried itself in the Wargal’s heart and he fell dead beside his stricken prey. As the swordsman sank to his knees, the other Wargals charged at the two Rangers.

Shambling and bearlike as they might be, they covered ground with incredible speed.

Halt’s second shot dropped the left-hand Wargal. Will fired at the one on the right and realized instantly that he had misjudged the brute’s speed. The arrow hissed through the space where the Wargal had been a second before. His hand flew to his quiver for another arrow and he heard a hoarse grunt of pain as Halt’s third shot buried itself in the chest of the middle creature. Then Will loosed his second arrow at the surviving Wargal, now terrifyingly close.

Panicked by those savage eyes and yellow fangs, he snatched as he released the arrow and knew it would fly wide.

As the Wargal snarled in triumph, Tug came to his master’s aid. The little horse reared and lashed out with his front hooves at the horrific creature in front of him. Unexpectedly, he also danced forward a few steps, toward the threat, rather than retreating. Will, caught by surprise, clung to the pommel of the saddle.

The Wargal was equally surprised. Like all its kind, it had a deep-seated instinctive fear of horses—a fear born at the Battle of Hackham Heath sixteen years ago, where Morgarath’s first Wargal army had been decimated by Araluen cavalry. It hesitated now for a fatal second, stepping back before those flashing hooves.

Halt’s fourth arrow took it in the throat. At such short range, the arrow tore clean through. With a final grunting shriek, the Wargal fell dead on the grass.

White-faced, Will slid to the ground, his knees nearly giving way beneath him. He clung to Tug’s side to stay upright. Halt swung down quickly and moved to the boy’s side. His arm went around him.

“It’s all right, Will.” His deep voice cut through the fear that filled Will’s mind. “It’s over now.”

But Will shook his head, horrified by the rapid train of events.

“Halt, I missed . . . twice! I panicked and I missed!” He felt a deep sense of shame that he had let his teacher down so badly. Halt’s arm tightened around him and he looked up at the bearded face and the dark, deep-set eyes.

“There’s a big difference between shooting at a target and shooting at a charging Wargal. A target isn’t usually trying to kill you.” Halt added the last few words in a more gentle tone. He could see that Will was in shock. And no wonder, he thought grimly.

“But . . . I missed . . .”

“And next time you won’t. Now you know it’s better to fire one good shot than two hurried ones,” Halt said firmly. Then he took Will’s arm and turned him toward the campsite under the fig tree. “Let’s see what we have here,” he said, putting an end to the subject.

The black-clad man and the Wargal lay dead beside one another. Halt knelt beside the man and turned him over, whistling softly in surprise.

“Dirk Reacher,” he said, half to himself. “He’s the last person I would have expected to see here.”

“You know him?” Will asked. His insatiable curiosity was already helping him to put the horror of the previous few minutes to one side, as Halt had known it would.

“I chased him out of the kingdom five or six years ago,” the Ranger told him. “He was a coward and a murderer. He deserted from the army and found a place with Morgarath.” He paused. “Morgarath seems to specialize in recruiting people like him. But what was he doing here . . .? ”

“He said he was on a mission for Morgarath,” Will suggested, but Halt shook his head.

“Unlikely. The Wargals were chasing him and only Morgarath could have ordered them to do that, which he’d hardly do if Reacher really was working for him. My guess is that he was deserting again. He’d run out on Morgarath and the Wargals were sent after him.”

“Why?” Will asked. “Why desert?”

Halt shrugged. “There’s a war coming. People like Dirk try to avoid that sort of unpleasantness.”

He reached for the pack that lay by the campfire and began to rummage through it.

“Are you looking for anything in particular?” Will asked. Halt frowned as he grew tired of looking through the pack and dumped its contents onto the ground instead.

“Well, it strikes me that if he were deserting Morgarath and coming back to Araluen, he’d have to bring something to bargain for his freedom. So . . .” His voice died away as he reached for a carefully folded parchment among the spare clothes and eating utensils. He scanned it quickly. One eyebrow rose slightly. After almost a year with the grizzled Ranger, Will knew that was the equivalent of a shout of astonishment. He also knew that if he interrupted Halt before he had finished reading, his mentor would simply ignore him. He waited until Halt folded the parchment, stood slowly and looked at his apprentice, seeing the question in the boy’s eyes.

“Is it important?” Will asked.

“Oh, you could say so,” Halt told him. “We appear to have stumbled on Morgarath’s battle plans for the coming war. I think we’d better get them back to Redmont.”

He whistled softly and Abelard and Tug trotted to where their masters waited.

From the trees several hundred meters away, carefully downwind so that the Ranger horses would catch no scent of an intruder, unfriendly eyes were upon them. Their owner watched as the two Rangers rode away from the scene of the small battle. Then he turned south, toward the cliffs.

It was time to report to Morgarath. His plan had been successful.

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Interviews & Essays

When did you start writing?

First memory is in Fifth Grade at Primary school. We used to have a day a week when we wrote what were then called "compositions". These days they'd be called essays or assignments I guess. Other people used to write things like "what I did during the holidays" or " A family gathering" or "A day at the fair". I used to write adventure stories. I have a clear memory of being annoyed with my teacher, Brother Kelly, because he made me change realistic dialogue into a grammatically correct structure. Example: the statement from a helicopter pilot "Okay, down we go!" had to be changed to "Yes. We will go down." Even then I knew people didn't speak that way.

Fortunately, my more recent experiences with editors have been much happier.

What made you decide to write this fantasy series?

Initially I started writing a series of weekly short stories to encourage my son Michael to read. Will was based on Michael so he did the sort of things Mike enjoyed: climbing, archery, throwing knives at trees. That sort of defined the period as mediaeval and I chose fantasy because I like reading fantasy - and I didn't want to be constrained by real historical events. Those original short stories are incorporated in Book 1.

Which of Will's characteristics would you most like to have and why?

This is a trick question. If I say his courage and loyalty you'll think I'm a cowardly woos you can never depend on.

So instead I'll say his head for heights. I get vertigo if I stand on a chair to change a lightbulb.

I wish I could shoot (a bow) as well as he does but I'm way out of practice these days. I still have a longbow however.

Are any of your characters based on you or your family?

As I said, Will was based on my son Mike: small, agile, quick on his feet and fast thinking. And while I would never pretend to be Halt, a lot of the dialogue between Will and Halt is based on exchanges between Mike and me when he was a teenager.

Horace, by the way, was inspired by Mike's longtime best friend Jeremy.

What adjectives would you use to describe your latest book, The Burning Bridge?

Ummmmm.... How about absolutely essential ? Oh, absolutely is an adverb, isn't it?

I hope it's exciting and fast moving. That was certainly my intention. Involving perhaps? Amusing? I think humor is part of real life and I try to incorporate it into my books. I think there's an element of thriller in Burning Bridge. There's a mystery for the reader to unravel. Just what is going on here? So I hope it's intriguing as well.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Thanks for saying "some of". I hate being asked "who's your favorite author?" Let's see. The late Ed McBain. His dialogue was superlative. David Eddings because he was the first person I saw incorporate humor into his fantasy novels. And my longtime favorite C.S. Forester. I first read the Hornblower books when I was about 12. I still read them today. And I get something new out of them each time. Patrick O'Brian for his lilting dialogue and narrative. James Lee Burke for his incredibly evocative descriptions of the Delta area in Louisiana. And on and on and on.

Have you started working on your next book? Can you give us a sneak peak?

If you mean Book 3 in the Ranger's Apprentice series, yes indeed. In fact, it's already written. Okay, a sneak peak: it's not set in Araluen. The story focus moves to Skandia in the north and Gallica on the main continent. Will faces a problem he can't solve alone. Help comes from an unexpected source. Halt has problems too, which he solves in his own unique way. And we see a lot more of Horace as he becomes increasingly proficient in the skills of a warrior. I can't tell you more than that without giving away some of the events in Burning Bridge.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell readers?

Just this. Thank you for buying my books and thank you for enjoying them. It has been my lifelong ambition to be an author and you've made that dream come true for me. I love hearing from readers and I hope to have my own website up and running within the next few months. There'll be a contact site there. For now, all the best to you and as we say in Australia, your blood's worth bottling.

Kind Regards,

John Flanagan

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 843 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 857 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Exciting Story From Start to Finish

    I just loved this book. It was exciting, thrilling, and interesting from page one to the ending. My favorite character is Halt although I adore Will and Horace. Halt is a caring and good teacher. He is patient with Will and supports his growth as an individual. Will goes on simple mission with Gilan, who is Halt's former apprentice. Only the simple mission turns out to be anything but complicated!! There is a part in the story where Halt, who is in a bad mood, misses Will. So he is assigned to escort Alyss on a diplomatic mission. The interaction between these two characters is a delight to read. The ending with the bridge is awesome and well worth reading the book. I really enjoyed all the excitment. Well done, Mr. Flanagan!!!!

    21 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012


    Should i try the book???????? if u agre reply

    15 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2012

    very good young person read

    Excellent series, well written. Vivid description allows you to see what the character sees. Story moves along well and difficult to put down. Good follow-up from book 1. Looking forward to the next in series. Recommended to other young readers (5th grade and up or very strong younger reader. Lessons in hope, dedication, learning by watching, and friendship.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012


    I read it three times before putting it down

    9 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2007

    Burning Bridge (Ranger's Apprentice Series #2)

    This thriller of a book is one of the best reads I've had this fall. It took me no more than two days to read it. Once you get into the story it gets very exciting. The reason I liked this book better than The Ruins of Gorlan is because this book had a large, openfielded battle which slightly reminded me of a certain Battle of Pellanor Fields in The Return of the King. Nevertheless, this book had it all, and I reccomend it to ages 11+.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Ranger's Apprentice book 2: The Burning Bridge = Great book for teens.

    This book was very fast paced at times and sets a path for Will's maturity. It increased Will's relationship with his friend Horace, as well as letting readers know more about the youngest ranger in the corps, Gilan. Gilan, Horace, and Will travel to the often peaceful lands of Celtica. They are sent to deliver a diplomatic message to the allied kingdom of Celtica from Araulen. Along the way, they run into areas that are usually filled with many Celts. But now the lands are mysteriously empty. Now the three heroes find out what is going on in these empty lands. All the while, the kingdom of Araluen must prepare for an incoming invasion of wargles. Morgawraths last onslaught will decide the outcome of Araluen and its people. On a scale of 1-10 this book is easily a 9. I highly recommend that others read this book as well, especially after reading the Ruins of Gorlan.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2007


    When I picked up the first book, I expected it to be interesting but I had no idea it was going to blow me away like it did. I read it in one day and went to barnes and noble the very next day to get the second book. I was so impressed with the writing style, the plot, the characters, and some of the dialogue even made me laugh out loud (a HUGE feat for a book). I'm definatly a critic when it comes to books but I can't find any flaws in this series. In fact, these books are SO good that I'm having trouble deciding whether I should spend my money on the seventh harry potter book or the third book in 'The Ranger's Apprentice'. I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE THIRD BOOK!!! THIS IS A MUST READ FOR ANY FANTASY LOVER!!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2012

    Woe Wow

    THIS BOOK IS GREAT!! Kind of a slow start, and the title is influenced too early, but STILL!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2012

    Great book great charaters great story

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2012


    This book alway surprises you and it is not copyed from lord of the rings!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2012


    I just LOVE this series. This book is one of favorites out of all of them though. The best quote of the book is from Gilan who is asked by Will and Horace what to do if your be charged by an axman, your bowstring is broken, and your on the edge of a cliff with nowhere to run and hide. His responce is "Jump off the cliff. It'll be less messy that way."

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2006

    Forget the Hype

    It is not original at all. Rangers were copied off Lord of the Rings and Wargals is way too close to Urgals to be at all original.

    3 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013

    Amzing book

    A very fast paced wonderfull book.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2012


    The book was great! All characters, events, etc. were really great! And the ending scene with Halt and the Skandians was very touching. I reccomend this to anyone who loves to read. Or anyone who doesn't. Just make sure you read "The Ruins of Gorlan" first.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2012

    Good book

    Rather good book. Gets pretty slow at times until the very suprising end!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    must read

    Awesome series! I love it.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2012


    The Ranger's Apprentice books are the best books I ever read!! They are packed with excitement and adventure from cover to cover and once you start reading you won't be able to put them down!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013



    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2013


    Omgomgomg amazing book. I rlly appreciate the way it carresses the thought of a ward child... like me.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2012

    Easton webb review

    Suprisingly John has improved even though i thought he was already at the top he flew higher. Very amazing and John has put in some new tactics for the young heros to use and eventually save their lives. I am also suprized at how young will faced the wargals hhe is definatly improving. I would recomend it to every one 8 and up becuase their are some interesting charecteristics in the book (but i will not spoil the suprize) please buy it is amazing! -Easton Webb

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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