Thursday, September 10, 2015

Review: The Tournament at Gorlan by John Flanagan

Title: The Tournament at Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice: The Early Years #1)
Author: John Flanagan
Genre: Middle Grade/Young Adult, Historical, Fantasy
Source: RandomHouse

Before they became the most famous Ranger in the land and the hard-working Ranger Commandant, Halt and Crowley were young friends determined to change the world.

The scheming Baron Morgarath is drawing other power-hungry knights and barons to his banner. King Oswald is wasting away and, if gossip can be believed, Prince Duncan is causing havoc in the north.

Halt and Crowley set out to find the prince, uncover the truth, and re-form the weakened Ranger Corps. Once-loyal Rangers are scattered across the country, and it will take determination, skill, and leadership if they're to come together as one. Can the Rangers regain the trust of the Kingdom, or will the cunning Morgarath outwit them at every turn?
Review by Nara

I can hazard a guess that if I were to ask every Ranger's Apprentice fan who their top five characters were, Halt would make at least 90% of the lists. He's definitely a well loved character, and when I heard about this prequel series that would be centred around him, I was quite excited.

I have to admit, this book wasn't really what I expected (this is what I get for not reading blurbs). I thought it'd be about how Halt and Crowley were trained and how they met each other and developed a great friendship. In reality, they were already friends at the start of the book, and it's more about the start of their quest to defeat Morgarath. Which I guess was actually a good thing, because we've basically already had the whole training/apprentice spiel already with the original Ranger's Apprentice series, and probably don't need to see it a second time with Halt/Crowley.

There's still the same sharp, dry humour that's typical of John Flanagan, and of course, we still have the fantastic characters. The only thing is...I thought that Halt would be younger, more inexperienced, maybe even immature...but he's basically exactly the same as he is in the original series. Same with everyone else. Which wasn't necessarily a bad thing; it just wasn't what I was expecting.

All in all, this was a pretty good book that really captured the spirit of the original Ranger's Apprentice series. While it might not be as good as the original, it's definitely a series that you should consider picking up if you liked the original in any way at all.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
World Building: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 1.5/5