Review: The Burning Bridge (Ranger’s Apprentice #2) by John Flanagan

Review: The Burning Bridge (Ranger’s Apprentice #2) by John FlanaganThe Burning Bridge by John Anthony Flanagan
Series: The Ranger's Apprentice #2
Published by Penguin on 2006
Pages: 262
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The international bestselling series with over 5 million copies sold in the U.S. alone! Bracing for a final clash with the evil warlord Morgarath, the Rangers rally the kingdom's allies, and Will is chosen, along with his friend Horace, as special envoys to nearby Celtica. But the simple mission soon takes an unsettling turn - the Celticans have disappeared, their town abandoned. The scheming hand of Morgarath, it seems, has been far from idle. He has found a way to bring his legions over the once impassible eastern mountains and is planning to ambush the king's army in a rout. Now with help many miles away, Will and Horace are the only ones standing in the way of the dark lord's plans.They have shown great skill and courage in their training, but how will they fare in the face of true evil? 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. Watch a QuickTime trailer for this book.

I don’t think I ever reviewed ‘The Ruins of Gorlan,’ which is the first book in this series, but I can say that I remember loving it. It was exactly what I was expecting for a middle grade book. ‘The Ruins of Gorlan is a great introductory book that tells the story of Will and how he became a Ranger’s apprentice. Rangers are sort of like wilderness ninja spies for the kingdom of Araluen. Their claim to fame is that they can sneak around undetected, are great with the longbow and knives, and ride highly intelligent miniature horses (Don’t laugh. If I could have one of these, there would be about 80 of them in my backyard). The books are very fast paced and happen over a short span of time. They’re fun and riveting and always give you a nice cliffhanger for the next book.

‘The Burning Bridge’ is no different. The book is fast. I devoured it just a couple of hours (of course, I read faster than the average 8-year-old, but still). To be honest, it’s hard for me to talk about this book just  because it did everything I wanted it to do. It entertained me, the characters stayed true, and there were a few plot surprises that made me speak out loud in surprise. To me, that’s the mark of a really good book in this age group. Flanagan isn’t reinventing the wheel. His chapters are about nine pages long and really easily accessible for chapter book aged children who love fantasy and adventure.

Will is one of those brave and true characters that boys love. He knows what should done and isn’t afraid to sacrifice himself in the process. I think girls probably love this series too but there isn’t a lot of focus at this point in the series on fierce girl characters. There is Alyce, but she’s in a pretty feminine role as ambassador. I have lots to say about media and book choices when it comes to boys and girls so I won’t go into that here. But let’s just say that I was worried that Flanagan was catering to boys. The addition of Evanlyn, the servant girl with a mysterious story, delighted me. Wargals attacked her party and she was the only one who survived. I originally thought Flanagan created a damsel in distress, again to cater to boys. But Evanlyn is anything but that, let me tell you. Girlfriend is fierce! It made me realize that Flanagan is creating a series for both genders and perhaps it’s the publisher who markets exclusively to boys.

In any case, if you’re a parent to boys and/or girls, let them read/read them this series. ‘The Burning Bridge’ by John Flanagan is fun, fast, and is appropriate reading for both genders. Take it from me, they’re going to want the next book very quickly so make sure to have it on hand or get on the waiting list at the library. I’m on a waiting list and cannot wait to get my hands on the next one.

four-stars

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