Ranger's Apprentice: Erak's Ransom

 

Erak, Oberjarl of Skandia, has been captured. And its up to an Araluen delegation to save him.

Together, Halt, Will, Horace, Evanlyn, and Erak's former crew must travel to the desert country of Arridia to negotiate the Oberjarl's release. But when the delegation is informed of a snag in the negotiations, the simple meeting becomes a dangerous recivery mission.

 

 

 

/*** THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPHS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ***\

**/** SPOILERS ARE PRESENT **\**

 

I found this to be one of the better books of the series (along with 4 and 10). The action was fairly unending and the few times when action wasn't happening, something else important or interesting was happening. The result was a very fun, action-packed, and all around important book.

Before we go into an anlysis, it is important to mention that this book is set bewteen books 4 and 5, when Will is nearing the completion of his ranger training. Flanagan mentioned in the author's notes at the beginning that he felt that it was important to describe how Will and Halt would deal with Will's graduation.

 

Now on to the analysis ...

 

Before anything else, lets dicuss the main theme of this book: Will's self doubt. As has been said in prior books, self doubt is self fulfilling. But Will is constantly doubting whether or not he is ready to be a dll ranger, which he is of course. But than there's Gilan who tells him that everyone feels that way before their graduation. He claims that because he didn't feel ready, he most certainly was.

 

The first important thing that happened in this book was the conversation between King Duncan and Cassandra/Evanlyn. Evanlyn, or at that time Cassandra, was under the impression that she should have at least some formal combat training so that she would eventually make a good queen. Duncan, on the other hand, believed that she should instead act as most princesses should.

This comes up a second time when Cassandra volunteers to go as a seal bearer to Arridia to free Erak. Duncan, after much prodding, eventually lets her go. This same situtino occurs in book 10, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja.

(Quick Spoiler into Book 12) In, The Royal Ranger, Cassandra becomes extremely hyprocritical when her daughter Maddy undertakes a similar task of shooting rocks from a sling at castle guards. I found it funny that she did the same thing, to a tee, but disallowed her daughter to do the same thing.

 

We also see more of the Evanlyn-Will-Alyss love triangle in this book. It was stated that when Will had seen Cassandra between the end of book 4 and the beginning of this book she had essentially distanced herself completely from Will. Right before the delegation left Araluen, Alyss stated that she was trying to come up with a reason why she should go. And we can all assume the reason. And during the epilogue, Will noticed that after the duel kisses while presenting him his silve oakleaf the two girls "stared daggers at eachother".

 

After this is where the story line gets interesting ...

 

The events in Al Shabah aren't very important or interesting. The fun stuff starts when the Sandstorm hits. Will loses contorl over Tug (there's a first time for everything) and then loses Tug in the storm. When the storm clears, Will goes on a search for his beloved horse, nearly killing himself in the process (thank you Arrow).

Than the whole ordeal with the Bedullin people claiming ownership over Tug. Good think Tug was a ranger horse or else Will would have been finding a new horse. While speaking of the race that occurs, lets compliment Tug's natural intelligence.

It was Tug who decided it was a good time to pretend falter and baited the other horse into exhausting itself. Then Tug bolted for the fininsh. Anyother horse, rnager or non-ranger, would not have come up with such a plan.

And a good thing this happened too, because it formed a small alliance between Will and the Bedullin and eventually resulted in them saving the rest of the delegation including Selethen, from the Tualaghi.

 

Speaking of the Tualaghi, lets advance into the story line that encompasses the other characters. After Will decided to go after Tug on his own, the rest of the party found the remains of the caravan that was carrying Erak to Maraoc. They were killed by another band of desert nomads.

Halt and Gilan use their expert tracking skills to track them all the way to their camp where they find Erak and eventually get captured (thank you Bedullin scout)(there's another first time for everything).

 

I do have to admit the Tualaghi leader knew which prisoners would fetch a good ransom. He picked up two Country/Provincial leaders, and a member of the royal family of Araluen. And he instantly recognized that Halt and Gilan as well as Svengal would not fetch much in the form of ransom. He is a smart person. Or at least smarter than Keren in books 5 and 6.

 

And then our finale.

 

I'm going to skip all the way up to the dealing with the executioner. I would like to see the guy in a movie. It would probably be like the sword scene in the first Indiana Jones movie. Probably be pretty funny. Esepcially his reaction to the lack of reation from th executionees. Again, love to see that in a movie sometime (please!!!).

Horace also retains his humor in this book as he did in the other ones. He has Will shoot through the bonds binding his hands during the fight. When will only breaks one of the three strings, Horace jokes that he's losing his edge (because that such an easy shot, Horace!!). (Earlier in the book, he also commented that all an enemy would have to do capture Will, Halt, and Gilan was to bait them with coffe. And he's probably right.)

And, like in book 3, Evanlyn, as she goes by while traveling, saves everything by shooting the Tualaghi leader in the head with part of her necklace. She is one accurate shot with that sling. She and Duncan can probably thank that accuracy for her practice on Araluen guards. For without it, they would all probably be dead. Guess it does pay to train crown princess's in the art of combat.

And the final battle between Erak and Toshak. Again, there was some more great baiting in this fight. Erak, smart as ever, pretends to fall down defenseless and in turn stabs Toshak with his sword. Oh, the baiting that took place. It was all over the place in this book.

 

But one funny part and one serious part remains in the book.

 

First, the funny. Earlier in the book, Evanlyn and Selethen agreed on a ransom price of 66,000 reels for Erak. But Evanlyn, smart as she is, point out that a ransm is when "one party pays a second party for the release of a third party the second party is holding". She states that because the Tualaghi were the "second party" in this case she owes them money not Selethen. Regardless, she still gives Selethen as well as the Bedullin 20,000 reels as compensation. So everything works out. I don't think that even Halt could have pulled something that devious off (even though it was quite possible his idea in the first place).

 

And then the serious part, Will's ranger graduation. Crowley and Halt show up and act super non-chalant about the graduation. Crowley even supposedly loses Will's silver oakleaf. And then everyone jumps out as a surprise. Supossedly this happens to all apprentices (and it does reoccur in book 8). This is also the part where both Alyss and Cassandra kiss Will and then act like they want to kill each other.

 

And so ends, Erak's Ransom. Stay with the books in book 8, The Kings of Clomnel.