Will and Evanlyn have escaped from Skandian enslavement, but their problems are far from over in this riveting Ranger's Apprentice episode. Still far from their Araluen homeland, the pair were stopped in their tracks by an attack by Temujai warriors. After Evalyn is taken captive, Will struggles single-handedly to free her. Dangerous outmatched, he is snatched from death's door by the timely intervention of Halt and Horace. But more dangers await him and indeed, the entire Araluen people: The Temujai invaders are on the march and no army seems capable of stopping them. First-class battle fantasy.
Fans of The Ranger's Apprentice series will again dive right into this fourth adventure. Will and Evanlyn have eluded their Skandian captors and are waiting out the winter in an abandoned hunting cabin. Halt and Horace have managed to bluff their way across the Skandian border. Apprentice and master are finally reunited as each set out to rescue Evanlyn, again captured by invading Temujai warriors. Halt, Will, and Horace need to convince the Skandians that the Temujai are a greater threat than they are, and the enemies need to work together to defeat the invaders or risk seeing all of their lands fall to these fearsome fighters. This installment clips along at a much faster pace than the preceding book. Newcomers to the series would be able to jump in easily, as very little relies on previous volumes. Will and Halt are reunited quickly, and the multiple story lines merge into one action-packed sequence of strategy and battle as the war with the Temujai enfolds. Characters have a bit more depth, and the humorous banter between Halt and Erak adds personality to both, keeping the book from becoming overly grim. Will and Evanlyn seem to grow up enough to realize that their prospective stations in life are a barrier to deepening the relationship they developed during the course of their servitude in Skandia. The resolution ties up many loose ends satisfactorily, although there is room for more books in this series. Reviewer: Arlene Garcia
Gr 5-8- Will and Evanlyn have escaped imprisonment in Skandia and are hiding out in a remote cabin, waiting for Will to gain enough strength to begin their journey home. Their peace, however, does not last long, as Evanlyn is kidnapped by a Temujai warrior. Halt, the Ranger to whom Will is apprenticed; Horace, a knight in training; and Will rescue her, but are intercepted by Skandians before they can continue home. The Temujai are advancing behind them, leaving Will and his friends to form an uneasy alliance with the Skandians. The tension builds to the final battle between the Temujai warriors and the Skandians. Fans of the series will eagerly devour this one and wait impatiently for the next. Readers who aren't familiar with the previous books would do best to start with the first one, but those who choose to start here won't be lost. A sure bet for fantasy fans, as well as those who enjoy action and adventure.-Ginny Collier, Dekalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA
Taking up where the previous episode, Icebound Land (2007), left off, the latest chapter in this unusually well-founded heroic fantasy reunites the four central characters-then sends them back into the hands of the (Viking-like) Skandians to defend these erstwhile enemies against an invading army of (Mongol-like) Temujai. As before, Flanagan expertly juggles the overall plot line, in which the four struggle with confusion because they're not sure how or what they feel about each other, with a logically constructed campaign that culminates in a hard, suspenseful battle. The author wears his influences on his sleeve but he wears them well, and like Tamora Pierce shows a knack for crafting adolescent warriors and mentors that never go stale, however long the haul may be. Readers who hate tales that end in cliffhangers will also appreciate the definite (though probably deceptive) feeling of resolution at the close. (Fantasy. 11-13)