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IT WAS LONG AFTER MIDNIGHT. THE FLICKERING TORCHES around the castle yard, already replaced once, had begun to burn low again. Will had watched patiently for hours, waiting for this moment-when the light was uncertain and the guards were yawning, in the last hour of their shift.
The day had been one of the worst he could remember. While his yearmates celebrated, enjoying their feast and then spending their time in lighthearted horseplay through the castle and the village, Will had slipped away to the silence of the forest, a kilometer or so from the castle walls. There, in the dim green coolness beneath the trees, he had spent the afternoon reflecting bitterly on the events of the Choosing, nursing the deep pain of disappointment and wondering what the Ranger's paper said.
As the long day wore on, and the shadows began to lengthen in the open fields beside the forest, he came to a decision. He had to know what was on the paper. And he had to know tonight.
Once night fell, he made his way back to the castle, avoiding villagers and castle folk alike, and secreted himself in the branches of the fig tree again. On the way, he slipped unnoticed into the kitchens and helped himself to bread, cheese and apples. He munched moodily on these, barely tasting them, as the evening passed and the castle began to settle down for the night.
He observed the movements of the guards, getting a feeling for their timing as they went on their regular rounds. In addition to the guard troop, there was a sergeant on duty at the doorway of the tower that led to Baron Arald's quarters. But he was overweight and sleepy and there was little chance that he would pose a risk to Will. After all, he had no intention of using the door or the stairway. Over the years, his insatiable curiosity, and a penchant for going places where he wasn't supposed to, had developed within him the skill of moving across seemingly open space without being seen. As the wind stirred the upper branches of the trees, they created moving patterns in the moonlight-patterns that Will now used to great effect. He instinctively matched his movement to the rhythm of the trees, blending easily into the pattern of the yard, becoming part of it and so being concealed by it. In a way, the lack of obvious cover made his task a little easier. The fat sergeant didn't expect anyone to be moving across the open space of the yard. So, not expecting to see anyone, he failed to do so.
Breathless, Will flattened himself against the rough stone of the tower wall. The sergeant was barely five meters away and Will could hear his heavy breathing, but a small buttress in the wall hid him from the man's sight. He studied the wall in front of him, craning back to look up. The Baron's office window was a long way up, and farther around the tower. To reach it, he would have to climb up, then work his way across the face of the wall, to a spot beyond the point where the sergeant stood guard, then up again to the window. He licked his lips nervously. Unlike the smooth inner walls of the tower, the huge blocks of stone that comprised the tower's outer wall had large gaps between them. Climbing would be no problem. He'd have plenty of foot- and handholds all the way up. In some places, the stone would have been worn smooth by the weather over the years, he knew, and he'd have to go carefully. But he'd climbed all the other three towers at some time in the past and he expected no real difficulty with this one.
But this time, if he were seen, he wouldn't be able to pass it off as a prank. He would be climbing in the middle of the night to a part of the castle where he had no right to be. After all, the Baron didn't post guards on this tower for the fun of it. People were supposed to stay away unless they had business here.He rubbed his hands together nervously. What could they do to him? He had already been passed over in the Choosing. Nobody wanted him. He was condemned to a life in the fields already. What could be worse than that?
But there was a nagging doubt at the back of his mind: He wasn't absolutely sure that he was condemned to that life. A faint spark of hope still remained. Perhaps the Baron would relent. Perhaps, if Will pleaded with him in the morning, and explained about his father and how important it was for him to be accepted for Battleschool, there was a very faint chance that his wish would be granted. And then, once he was accepted, he could show how his eagerness and dedication would make him a worthy student, until his growing spurt happened. On the other hand, if he were caught in the next few minutes, not even that small chance would remain. He had no idea what they would do to him if he were caught, but he could be reasonably sure that it wouldn't involve being accepted into Battleschool.
He hesitated, needing some slight extra push to get him going. It was the fat sergeant who provided it. Will heard the heavy intake of breath, the shuffling of the man's studded boots against the flagstones as he gathered his equipment together, and he realized that the sergeant was about to make one of his irregular circuits of his beat. Usually, this entailed going a few meters around the tower to either side of the doorway, then returning to his original position. It was more for the purpose of staying awake than anything else, but Will realized that it would bring them face-to-face within the next few seconds if he didn't do something.
Quickly, easily, he began to swarm up the wall. He made the first five meters in a matter of seconds, spread out against the rough stone like a giant, four-legged spider. Then, hearing the heavy footsteps directly below him, he froze, clinging to the wall in case some slight noise might alert the sentry.
In fact, it seemed that the sergeant had heard something. He paused directly below the point where Will clung, peering into the night, trying to see past the dappled, moving shadows cast by the moon and the swaying trees. But, as Will had thought the night before, people seldom look up. The sergeant, eventually satisfied that he had heard nothing significant, continued to march slowly around the tower.
That was the chance Will needed. It also gave him the opportunity to move across the tower face so that he was directly below the window he wanted. Hands and feet finding purchase easily, he moved almost as fast as a man could walk, all the time going higher and higher up the tower wall.
At one point, he looked down and that was a mistake. Despite his good head for heights, his vision swam slightly as he saw how far he had come, and how far below him the hard flagstones of the castle yard were. The sergeant was coming back into view-a tiny figure when seen from this height. Will blinked the moment of vertigo away and continued to climb, perhaps a little more slowly and with a little more care than before.
There was a heart-stopping moment when, stretching his right foot to a new foothold, his left boot slipped on the weather-rounded edge of the massive building blocks, and he was left clinging by his hands alone as he desperately scrabbled for a foothold. Then he recovered and kept moving.
He felt a surge of relief as his hands finally closed over the stone window ledge and he heaved himself up and into the room, swinging his legs over the sill and dropping lightly inside. The Baron's office was deserted, of course. The three-quarter moon streamed light in through the big window.
And there, on the desk where the Baron had left it, was the single sheet of paper that held the answer to Will's future. Nervously, he glanced around the room. The Baron's huge, high-backed chair stood like a sentry behind the desk. The few other pieces of furniture loomed dark and motionless. On one wall, a portrait of one of the Baron's ancestors glared down at him, accusingly. He shook off these fanciful thoughts and crossed quickly to the desk, his soft boots making no noise on the bare boards of the floor. The sheet of paper, bright white with the reflected moonlight, was within reach. Just look at it, read it and go, he told himself. That was all he had to do. He stretched out a hand for it.
His fingers touched it.
And a hand shot out of nowhere and seized him by the wrist! Will shouted aloud in fright. His heart leaped into his mouth and he found himself looking up into the cold eyes of Halt the Ranger.
Where had he come from? Will had been sure there had been nobody else in the room. And there had been no sound of a door opening. Then he remembered how the Ranger could wrap himself in that strange, mottled, gray-green cloak of his and seem to melt into the background, blending with the shadows until he was invisible. Not that it mattered how Halt had done it. The real problem was that he had caught Will, here in the Baron's office. And that meant the end to all Will's hopes.
"Thought you might try something like this," said the Ranger in a low voice.Will, his heart pounding from the shock of the last few moments, said nothing. He hung his head in shame and despair.
"Do you have anything to say?" Halt asked him, and Will shook his head, unwilling to look up and meet that dark, penetrating gaze. Halt's next words confirmed Will's worst fears.
"Well, let's see what the Baron thinks about this," he said.
"Please, Halt! Not . . ."Then Will stopped. There was no excuse for what he had done and the least he could do was face his punishment like a man. Like a warrior. Like his father, he thought. The Ranger studied him for a moment. Will thought he saw a brief flicker of . . . recognition? Then the eyes darkened once more.
"What?" Halt said curtly. Will shook his head.
The Ranger's grip was like iron around his wrist as he led Will out the door and onto the wide, curving staircase that led up to the Baron's living quarters. The sentries at the head of the stairs looked up in surprise at the sight of the grim-faced Ranger and the boy beside him. At a brief signal from Halt, they stood aside and opened the doors into the Baron's apartment.
The room was brightly lit and, for a moment, Will looked around in confusion. He was sure he had seen the lights go out on this floor while he waited and watched in the tree. Then he saw the heavy drapes across the window and understood. In contrast to the Baron's sparsely furnished working quarters below, this room was a comfortable clutter of settees, footstools, carpets, tapestries and armchairs. In one of these, Baron Arald sat, reading through a pile of reports.
He looked up from the page he was holding as Halt entered with his captive.
"So you were right," said the Baron, and Halt nodded.
"Just as I said, my lord. Came across the castle yard like a shadow. Dodged the sentry as if he wasn't there and came up the tower wall like a spider."
The Baron set the report down on a side table and leaned forward.
"He climbed the tower, you say?" he asked, a trifle incredulously.
"No rope. No ladder, my lord. Climbed it as easily as you get on your horse in the morning. Easier, in fact," Halt said, with just the ghost of a smile.
The Baron frowned. He was a little overweight and sometimes he needed help getting on his horse after a late night. He obviously wasn't amused by Halt's reminding him of the fact.
"Well now," he said, looking sternly at Will, "this is a serious matter."
Will said nothing. He wasn't sure if he should agree or disagree. Either course had its dangers. But he wished Halt hadn't put the Baron in a bad mood by referring to his weight. It certainly wouldn't make things any better for him.
"So, what shall we do with you, young Will?" the Baron continued. He rose from his chair and began to pace. Will looked up at him, trying to gauge his mood. The strong, bearded face told him nothing. The Baron stopped his pacing and fingered his beard thoughtfully.
"Tell me, young Will," he said, facing away from the miserable boy," what would you do in my place? What would you do with a boy who broke into your office in the middle of the night and tried to steal an important document?"
"I wasn't stealing, my lord!" The denial burst from Will before he could contain it. The Baron turned to him, one eyebrow raised in apparent disbelief. Will continued weakly," I just . . . wanted to see it, that's all."
"Perhaps so," said the Baron, that eyebrow still raised." But you haven't answered my question. What would you do in my place?" Will hung his head again. He could plead. He could apologize. He could ask for mercy. He could try to explain. But then he squared his shoulders and came to a decision. He had known the consequences of being caught. And he had chosen to take the risk. He had no right now to plead for forgiveness.
"My lord . . . ," he said, hesitantly, knowing that this was a decisive moment in his life. The Baron regarded him, still half turned from the window.
"Yes?" he said, and Will somehow found the resolve to go on. "My lord, I don't know what I'd do in your place. I do know there is no excuse for my actions and I will accept whatever punishment you decide."
As he spoke, he raised his face to look the Baron in the eye. And in doing so, he caught the Baron's quick glance to Halt. There was something in that glance, he saw. Strangely, it was almost a look of approval, or agreement. Then it was gone.
"Any suggestions, Halt?" the Baron asked, in a carefully neutral tone.
Will looked at the Ranger now. His face was stern, as it always was. The grizzled gray beard and short hair made him seem even more disapproving, more ominous.
"Perhaps we should show him the paper he was so keen to see, my lord," he said, producing the single sheet from inside his sleeve. The Baron allowed a smile to break through." Not a bad idea," he said." I suppose, in a way, it does spell out his punishment, doesn't it?" Will glanced from one man to the other. There was something going on here that he didn't understand. The Baron seemed to think that what he had just said was rather amusing. Halt, on the other hand, wasn't sharing in the fun.
"If you say so, my lord," he replied evenly. The Baron waved a hand at him impatiently.
"Take a joke, Halt! Take a joke! Well, go on and show him the paper."
The Ranger crossed the room and handed Will the sheet he had risked so much to see. His hand trembled as he took it. His punishment? But how had the Baron known he would deserve punishment before the actual event?
He realized that the Baron was watching him expectantly. Halt, as ever, was an impassive statue. Will unfolded the sheet and read the words Halt had written there.
The boy Will has the potential to be trained as a Ranger.
I will accept him as my apprentice.
Posted January 13, 2009
Posted August 26, 2005
I picked this book up by chance because the cover intrigued me - boy am I glad! I love serial books where I can follow characters throughout their adventures and this one is great. Wonderful character development, interesting plot, and great dialogue.
41 out of 44 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I picked up this book after extreme hesitation. The cover art just seemed wrong to me and the title wasn't to promising. But when I finally bit the bullet I was not disappointed. The book is one of the few books where I have laughed out loud. It is also very suspenseful and has plenty of action scenes. The plot is great and the characters such as Will and Halt are great. You wish you could just live in their world for a day and meet them.
Flanagan does a great job and this book is one of my favorites in my library.
36 out of 38 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 24, 2008
I had my doubts when I saw this book. It even made it home to rest on my bookshelf for a few months while I went on to reading things that I was sure was good. Couldn't you imagine my surprise when I picked it up, flipped open the cover and then the very next time I looked up it was dark outside when it seemed like just a hours had passed. <BR/><BR/>Needless to say the books in the series are broken down into mulitple books so that young readers can understand them. So for any adult reader, they tend to go by very fast. But all in all they are a great read and I'll contiune reading them until they are no longer available.
21 out of 27 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
THIS IS JUST ON OF THE MY FAVORITYE BOOKS. IT ALSO DESCR9IBES THE ACTION A LITTLE MKORE THEN MOST BOOKS. sO IT IS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIKE ACTION. wHILE THERE IS ACTION THERE IS A LITTLE LOVE BUT THATS IN THE LATER BOOKS. sO IT IS ALSO FOR THOSE KIND OF PEOPLE TOO.
IT IS ALSO VERY REALISTIC BUT FAR MORE INTERESTING THAN MOST FICTIONS. TAKE MY WORD FOR IT IF YOU READ THE FIRST BOOK YOU WILL END UP READING ALL THE BOOKS
20 out of 23 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 17, 2010
I am 60 years old and read a variety of books, including the fantasy genre. I got this book for my Nook with the idea of checking it out for a possible suggestion for my eleven year old grandson. I very much enjoyed the book. I think people of any age would like it. I not only will recommend this book and series to my grandson, I will probably continue to read the series myself.
16 out of 19 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
My 12 year old son loves this book!! His eyes light up when he gives me summaries of what he has read so far. A great way to utilize acceptible new vocabulary words. I wasn't sure I should buy the entire collection, so I bought the first three in the series. And I am glad I did.
15 out of 19 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 23, 2009
John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series is the perfect story to read on those rainy days when you can relax with a cup of hot cocoa and your favorite pet.
With the wonderful stories that we have come to enjoy over the last few years, I have rediscovered the novels writen for the younger reader. There are a lot more options for todays reader than there were 15-20 years ago. Ranger's Apprentice is a great series of good wholesome reading; a good story, very good story telling, just enough new vocabulary to keep it from being mindless and a believable fanatsy world where it all happens. The charaters are the type of people you would hope to meet if you happened to be a stranger in their neck of the woods; decent, honest people with morals, people you would want to be associated with.
I had a hard time putting the book(s) down. I am even re-reading them!
14 out of 16 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I recently purchased this book as a birthday gift for my 12yr old nephew. I usually pre-read at least part of his books to see what they are like and to see what he enjoys reading. This book I read completely and wanted to start part 2 right away. I'm sure my nephew will love the gift.
11 out of 17 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 2, 2005
I had seen this book at the BN Harry Potter release party in July, and it stuck in my head. I returned a week later and bought it for our family book time. I had started skimming the prologue and realized I was heading into chapter 2 ! My husband was a bit skeptical that it would hold the attention of all our children, girl 4, boy 6 and girl 13, but it did. They beg nightly for more than the usual 2 chapters. Sometimes we relent, because Dad wants to know what's going to happen next as much as the kids do ! Even the youngest, a 4 year old girl is enthralled with this great read ! It has the same holding power as Harry Potter, but a totally different story. There are no similarities other than they are both great books,just so you don't think its a Harry-wannabe book. I highly recommend this book for families. The ages of readers was listed as 11-13, but as a read aloud, our youngest at 4 is interested and sits still for it. The older 2 kids are totally mesmerized ! I was bad and pulled an all-nighter, after the first 2 chapters and read the whole book ! It is wonderfully and warmly done. John Flanagan captures the feelings wonderfully as he describes all aspects of emotions for Will, Horace and the others. This is an all around great book for indivual readers as well as family read alouds.
9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2008
At first I wasen't sure about this book it looked interesting but it didn't sound very original but since my friend loaned it to me I gave it a try. Boy do I owe her one! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to continuing the series!
7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 14, 2011
Ok, serioisly, its right up there with Harry Potter and thats saying something! It has a compelling plot and very strong characters. John Flanagan's serise is totaly amazing! :)
6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 4, 2010
I Also Recommend:
I've got to say when I first encountered this book I was like ehh, but that's because I don't like when covers have real people on them, I know weird but that's how I am. But of course I was so wrong. I absolutely fell in love with this book! When you read it it seems pretty fast paced and you're never looking at the page next thinking when is this chapter going to end, your just like wow I was just on chapter 1, how did I get to 10 so fast? And I say it seems like it's moving fast, it's just that it is so intriguing and enthralling that you don't notice that its going at a steady pace and it explaining things for the coming chapters and before you know the book is over and your left wanting more.
The one thing that I absolutely loved about it was the feelings that I got while reading it. When the Ranger's are talking about the Kalkara you become just as fearful as Will and the others. The same can be said when will hears the name of Molgarath at one point in the story I got goosebumps just thinking about the guy as well. Overall a well written book and a awesome read for all ages, although for those who are older and looking for a challenging read you may not find it here. While I thoroughly enjoyed this book I read it in less than a day, but that may just be me. I've read the whole series and was not disappointed one bit, i would love to see this as a movie^-^
5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 17, 2009
I recenty recived this book for christmas. It was one of the first books that I read and it was amazing. I would recomend this book for every body.
5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 15, 2011
The Rangers Apprentice
The book I have chosen to right a review about is the Ranger`s Apprentice. This book was written by John Flanagan, it is the third book in a series of 10 and is written as a fantasy adventure. The story takes place in a fictional world in the country of Araluen, in the Fief of Redmont. It is a country filled with forests, castles, and people living in fear. They fear the mighty Lord Morgarath and his minions-half man and half beast. The main characters in this book are Will, Halt, and Horace. They are warriors who have been trained to defend their country and find themselves embattled in war against the evil Morgarath, in a time of swords, arrows, and shields. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys unlimited action and suspense that keeps the reader perched on the edge of their seat.
I sincerely adore this book; it has everything, action, suspense, and there are absolutely no boring moments in this novel. The author does an incredibly amazing job of creating this new world. John Flanagan describes everything in amazing detail, which allows the reader to create a mental picture, unlike some other books I have read. The detail in this book will definitely rival that of any other book on the market.
Now here comes my favorite part of the book, the action. A lot of the fighting has the odds of the heroes winning stacked highly against them which makes the book just that much more entertaining. The battles are fairly long and suspenseful and described in massive detail. These battle scenes are about as good as you can get.
Now you know why I hold this novel in such high regard and would highly recommend it. If you see this book anywhere definitely consider picking it up. Don`t make the mistake of not reading this. In the end I must say that the author did an amazing job of creating this book, and reading it will provide an amazing level of entertainment
4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 13, 2010
This is the first book I have purchased after high school, (6 year ago). I am so into this story. The characters in it are all very unique and easy to imagine them in your mind. I still haven't finished the book, but I will by the end of this week. I am definitely going to purchase the next book in the series and most likely all of them. If you like a good story with adventure, this is a great book for that.
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 7, 2005
Okay this book ROCKED SO HARD THAT IT ALMOST HURT TO READ IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was so cool, I mean the story line was extremely interesting, I couldn't put it down, I read it in, like, two hours and IT'S A NEW BOOK WHICH MEANS I'LL HAVE TO WAIT YEARS FOR THE NEXT ONE. P.S.Halt sorta reminded of my dad with the chore giving and all...
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 12, 2012
Posted February 8, 2012
This is one of my most favorite books. It has adventure,
mystery, and suspense. You never know what will happen next. I recommend it to everyone.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.