Series: The Ranger's Apprentice #3
Published by Penguin on 2007
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The international bestselling series with over 5 million copies sold in the U.S. alone! Kidnapped after the fierce battle with Lord Morgarath, Will and Evanlyn are bound for Skandia as captives aboard a fearsome wolfship. Halt has sworn to rescue Will, and he will do anything to keep his promise–even defy his King. Expelled from the Rangers he has served so loyally, Halt is joined by Will's friend Horace as he travels toward Skandia. On their way, they are challenged constantly by freelance knights–but Horace knows a thing or two about combat. Soon he begins to attract the attention of knights and warlords for miles around with his uncanny skill. Even so, will they be in time to rescue Will from a horrific life of slavery? The smash hit series continues with another heart stopping adventure. Perfect for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone, Christopher Paolini’s Eragon series, and George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire series.
Flanagan’s world helps children explore issues of friendship, hard work, loyalty, and bravery — fairly standard themes in this genre. With that being said, “The Icebound Land” surprised me with some pretty serious commentary on drug abuse. Will and Evanlyn end up in Skandia. Evanlyn is sent to be a house maid and Will is sent to the yard, where he is generally mistreated and kept from the heat he needs to survive. Just as he thinks he is about to freeze they give him a magical weed that makes him feel warm. Unfortunately, it’s also a drug that’s highly addictive and personality altering. When Will and Evanlyn escape, it’s up to her to wean him off the drug and bring him back. I think middle-grade kids reading this will get a clear message about the destructive effects of drugs. It might be a good moment for parents to open discussion on the subject.
As always, I’m a big Evanlyn fan. Her character and strength are so powerful, making this series accessible to both boys and girls. I covered that in my review of “The Burning Bridge” if you want to read more about it. “The Icebound Land” takes her strength to a whole new level because she becomes solely responsible for Will’s well-being when they escape. She has to keep them both alive. And she does a fantastic job.
I also enjoyed the rapport between Halt and Horace as they embark on their quest to find Will and Evanlyn. Despite the gruff exterior, Halt has a good heart. Horace brings that out in him. In their journey, they find a rather Don Quixote-like character to battle. I had a lot of fun following that story line. With some of the harrowing things that Will and Evanlyn go through in the book, it was nice to have a little comic/action relief from the two of them.
In all, John Flanagan doesn’t disappoint with “The Icebound Land.” The characters change and grow but at heart they’re still the same characters readers have come to love. I’m excited to read the next.
© 2014 – 2016, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.