Ranger's Apprentice: The Emperor of Nihon-Ja

 

Horace, and his long friends George, are on their way back to Araleun from the country of Nihon-Ja when disaster strikes. The rightful emperor of Nihon-Ja is being undermimed by one of his own class. And now, his very life in his danger.

And when Horace saves the Emperor's life, he too is sucked into the violent conflict raging in the country. Soon, Will, Halt, Alyss, Evanlyn, and Selethen are in Nihon-Ja as well, training an unarmed force of timber workers to fight against the deadly Senshi warriors.

Can the Araluen's save Nihon-Ja from a revolution? Or are they all in over their heads? 

 

 

 

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

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

 

This was the best book in the entire series. By far. None of the other books come anywhere close to this one. And part of that reason I think, may be associated with the fact th,t all the important charcters ever present in any of the other books returned for this one epic showdown (by "important" I'm meaning important to their book (excluding Malcolm and Erak (though Skandians were present))). Obviouisly, Halt, Will, and Horace have been in essentially all of the books. Evanlyn joined the group in books 2, 3, 4, and 7. And the addition of Alyss and Selethen (loved his charcter in Erak's Ransom) made this book even more exciting.

And just to make sure this is clear ... THIS IS NOT THE LAST BOOK IN THE SERIES. Contrary to what is said on the cover ("The Final Battle"), there are still two books after this. Flanagan obviously planned on the series only being ten books long, but then extended it two more books.

And now onto the analysis ...

 

We'll start with the copious amounts of foreshadowing that went on in the beginning of the book. First, the "tortoise" military formation that was seen omn Toscana. It obviously foreshadowed its use later against Arisaka and the Senshi. Evanlyn coming out of nowhere to request help with finding Horace, obviously had some amount of foreshadowing of the marriage proposal in the last chapter. There were some smaller ones as well, but they aren't important (like the mentioning of the protagonist in 'The Brotherband Chronicles')

 

Next, lets discuss this "tortoise" formation used by the Toscans. It seems to work pretty damn well. And it sure is efficient. I had a feeling that Will, Halt, and Selethen didn't think that the formation could be taught so quickly until Will taught in some three weeks to the Kikori. The defense works against archers (important), axes seemingly, and swords. It all around works wonders. Even against trained Senshi.

 

Now, onto the Alyss v. Evanlyn battle. First, supremely funny. Alyss is acually taking the raining seriously while Evanlyn is complaining every time Alyss whacks her with a saber. If it was real sword, she would have lost a hand ... or lower arm. Second, the small banter between Halt and Evanyn at the end. I do believe King Duncan fully would have let Halt do whatever he was planning to dow ith Evanlyn in that situation. Probably would have been better punishment than anything he would have come up with (Halt is quite good at finding odd and gruelling punishments).

And finally, there was one more joke concerning this battle. After Halt, the Skandians, and Will dropped the pirate ship, Selethen commented that Halt could have let Alyss and Evanlyn onboard to take care of them. Halt replied that " [I] need some of them of alive". And if he had let them onboard, there would have been no pirates left. But no one would have bothered them later either probably. And so that ended that breif dispute in their relationship (don't worry ... there are more of them).

Continuing on with the conversation of Alyss and Evanlyn, the kayak and subsequent meeting with the Hasanu/Snow Tiger escapde. It was a good idea by Alyss to sugget Kayaking over 'Big Lake'. It was realtively fast and safe, and, as Alyss pointed out, required no guards. Sure, the actual act of kayaking was a bit arduous, especially with Evanln never having kayaked, but it worked fairly well.

Then the snow tiger ordeal. First, thank god Evanlyn decided not to go down at night, since the snow iger was waiting beneath their tree. Second, why Alyss thought it a good idea to use herself as bait, no idea. Lets thank Evanlyn that she was accurate with her sling. Or else they'd both be dead. And it was this ordeal that probably lead to the somewaht tenuous "friendship" seen later in the book.

 

Next, the odd coincidence that Araluen's who came to find Horace were simply taken to him. How much more coincidence could you get there. They could have spent weeks looking for Ron Koshi and never find it, but instead they are just simply taken by Kikori under the control of Horace. There was also the coincidence that Halt arrives and suggests keeping the weekend western Palisdae right before the Kikori reinforced it. Literally ... a day or so later and the sneak attack that worked so well wouldn't have been.

 

And next, more of the fantastic tactics and thinking that I have so complemented in earlier books. Halt's thoughts to let the preliminary Senshi party to attack a single weakened point and then be met by another wall and elevated Kikori warriors was another stroke of genius on his part. Wil's thoughts to train Kikori in the "tortoise" formation as warriors was another brilliant idea. One that worked this time. As previously said, Alyss and Evanlyn's kayaking to the Hasanu plan was a good idea. Letting Mikeru train people as spear throwers aided in the battle. And the whole idea behind the natural Ron Koshi fortress was even better.

 

The only thing I at all disliked about this book was the very end. I thought it was completely anti-climactic. There was no full scale battle. No one-on-one duel. Just a simple slash and it was all over. It was probably the most anti-climactic ending to one of the books in the series.

 

Finally, before our last topic, lets dicuss the Nihon-Ja nicknames that were given to all of the Araluen charcters. I find that the majority of the charcters animal names matched their personalities quite well. Alyss being crane for sure matched. As did Evanlyn being a fox. After a brief explanation I understand Will's name of, Chocho, or butterfly. His mind does tend to flit around to various ideas on a whim. I think that Selethen being a hawk was fine, but Halt's end comment about its origin was unwarranted and probably not correct. And so that leaves only Horace and Halt. Halt was never given a nickname ( boooooooo!! ) unfortuantely. And while Horace's name of, Kurokuma was warranted I would have assumed they could have come up with a better name for him given time.

 

And so that leaves just a single topic left. We all knew it was coming. It was fairly obvious from about book 8 or 9 that eventually Horace and Evanlyn would get married. I however did not expect the way in which Will suggested to Alyss that they get married at some point. I assumed that would be much later on in the books, or Flanagan wouldn;t include it at all.

 

And so that ends, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja. Just two books remain in the epic phenomenon that is Rangers Apprentice. Continue on with, The Lost Stories (or skip it completely and advance to, The Royal Ranger).