Ranger's Apprentice: The Royal Ranger

 

The Rangers Apprentice story has come full circle as Will takes on his biggest challenge yet.

Will is suffering from the tragic loss of one his longest and closest friends. He has become dark and grim, focused solely on finding the people responsible for his pain.

Meanwhile, Madelyn, the crown princess of Araluen has become rebellious, acting against the wishes of her parents, Horace and Cassandra. With there daughter becoming out of control, Horace and Cassandra do the last thing anyone would have expected.

Now, its up to Will to turn the rebellious Princess Madelyn, into the Ranger Corps first female ranger. But, still reeling from the loss of his dearest companion, can Will succed in training his first apprentice?

 

 

 

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

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

 

I can't say that I felt any particular attraction to this book. While it was good by itself, I expected some thing better from John Flanagan, especially considering that this was the last book in the series.

The first time I read it, I absolutely heated it because of the ending. But on this re-read, knowing what the end was, I found it more enjoyable and a better book than I originally made it out to be.

Also, I have no idea as to how far in the future this book is set compared to the evenst that occurred in, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja. Probably 15-20 years is my best bet.

 

So now, onto the analysis ...

 

Obviously, we all found Cassandra acting hyprocritical towards Maddie at the beginning. After all, she had wanted to do the exact same things around book 7 in the series. It was a complete overreaction on her part, as it was on Horace's part for grounding Maddie. Maddie did have quite an attitude in the beginning of the bok though, so it was somewhat justified. But I guess that's how all parents all. Anytime a child brings up the point that they are doing the same thing the parent did when they were younger, the parent always claims there is some difference when there isn't.

And then of course, Halt is there to come up with a pefect remedy to the issue. Have Maddie become Will's apprentice. He claims to have been toying with the idea of female rangers for some months, but it wouldn't surprise me if he actually came up with the idea on the spot. It alos just so happens that she would be a perfect apprentice for Will because a) he already knows and "loves" her and b) to snap him out of his mood about Alyss.

 

Of course, there was also Will's attitude at the beginning of the story to deal with. But again, it was Halt to the rescue. His tirade about about not training Will to be a ranger just to see him collapse after one emotional hardship probably worked wonderfully. Thankfully, Will gets over this is as the story goes on.

 

Now, onto Maddie's apprentice training. It went much differently then Will's did in, The Ruins of Gorlan. For a little bit I was wondering how seriously Maddie would actually take her training, but she eventually began to take it very seriously, and she comments later on that she was enjoying herself.

Of course, Will did have to use the ultimate punishment to actually get Maddie to act like a Ranger. She did take the news that she was no longer a princess of Araluen rather well. Some charcters in other books would have spent the next week moping about the news, but she almost immediately got over it.

As I previously commented, her training went very different then Will's. For one, she didn't make the same mistake with her bow that Will did. And we could see that Will was quite disappointed in that fact, he would have loved for the same thing to have happened (I do believe Maddie had been running her mouth a bit much that day). Of course, she made the same mistake with Bumper as Will made with Tug. I bet she wont ever forget her key-word again (I wonder how many apprentice's do the same thing with their horses the first time). And then there was the horse race that Maddie thought would be a good idea. But of course, good-old Tug wouldn't let himself get beaten by an Arridi horse. And so Maddie, learns the good old lesson of not challenging rager horse's to races. Yah. Not a good idea.

She also trained in the use of her sling. And she became quite proficient in using it as a weapon. The lead shots were perfect ammunition, easy to conceal, but heavy enough to kill (as displayed in the battlle with the Ibernian). Gilan should think about adapting it into the corps as a full-time weapon.

Obviously, the drinking episode was, as Will put it, "a step backward ... but no one is perfect". And then Will's torcherous routine the next day probably dispelled Maddie from ever drinking any amount of alcohol again.

 

Of course, while training is important, its nothing like what the ranger's actually do on a mission. And Maddie showed her training when she and Will began their reconaissance work. She played the character she needed to. Gathered the information she needed to. And helped Will partially in piecing together the whole plan. And of course, her weapons skills were displayed during her encounter with the Ibernian assassain.

It was probably the hours of practice with her sling that saved her life. That and the stone that lodged itself in her foot. Without those the Ibernian would have no issues killing her with his many quatros.

And when Will returned, he put the "I killed someone" thought back into perspective, telling Maddie that if she hadn't she would have been killed. And this seemed to be enough for her.

 

The next main talking point, was when Will found out that Jory Rhule was behind the slaving ring that he and Maddie were uncovering. It probably took some extreme self-contorl for Will to keep himself from killing Rhule on sight. But that's where years of ranger training showed themselves (though Will did mve when he heard Rhule's name mentioned). Anyway, he would eventually get his revenge. And when he got his chances, Rhule was his first target. But that didn't quite work out the way he wanted it too.

 

The plan that he and Maddie made up to save the children was one of the better plans made up by Will in his time. But it probably worked the worst. The actual plan worked well up until he made his escape from the pursueing slavers. After that happened, Will made the assumption that the slavers had no tracker. And assumptions are never a good thing to make when your ranger.

And it is thus shown when Rhule and the slavers return for another battle. Sure, Will puts up a good fight, but he only has so many arrows to work with. And this time (for the first time), he just didn't have enough. And so, also for the first time, Will is captured by his enemies (I'm excluding the time in book 2, because he let the skandians capture him then).

Ane so, here comes Maddie to the rescue.

She gets all the way to untieing Will from his post and seemingly disabling two of three slavers before her rescue attempt failed.

Now, I was waiting for this to happen, because I expected something devious from Flanagan. And after I read the book the first time, I felt that the book would have been better with Maddie's death. After the re-read though, I'm happy to say that thought has left my mind.

 

Now, onto Rhule's death. I expected some epic finale with Will shooting him second before his own death. Insetad, Flanagan has to continue with his theme of anticlimactic climaxes. And so Rhule simply falls, with a burning torch in his hand, into a flamable bunch of wood and oil.

I don't know if Will was satisfied with his death that way. I kind of think he would have wanted to kill him himself, but I guess this worked as well.

 

Now ... we're reaching the end of the book here (95%). But there are still two more talking points.

 

First, Will's affection for Maddie. At the beginning of the book, Halt said that Will loved Maddie. But I didn't see that until the very end of the book. But it was super clear that he really does love Maddie.

Part of the way through the book, Will tells his dog Sable that Maddie was a bright spot in his life, but at the time I still didn't take this as a sign of super affection as we were lead to believe. I saw it more as something like Will and Halt's relationship.

But at the end, his concern for Maddie, as she lay dieing from the spear wound that was inflicted, definantly showed that his affection for her far surpassed that of a mentor-apprentice relationship. It was a more family like love that was displayed in that moment.

And that was what finally fixed Will. It wasn't the death of Rhule that finally healed the wound that was left by Alyss's death, it was his acceptance that he still had friends and family that needed him. If he had simply sought his revenger on Rhule, the healing he needed would never really have taken place.

 

And that leaves one thing left.

 

During the epilogue, when Maddie is given her bronze oakleaf, Horace and Cassandra inform her that she has been reinstated as a princess of Araluen. But she turns down the offer, saying that she rather remain a ranger.

I think this speak volumes about her charcater. She would rather serve Araluen by protecting it than by being a princess in a castle. Many people would simply have taken teh reinstatement and been happy. But not her.

It also shows that she has something in common with Will. At the end of book 4, Will is offered to be instated as a royal scout, but he instead remains a ranger. Maddy is given an instament for a royal position, one she has already held, but she still wants to be a ranger.

As Horace put it, rangers are an odd bunch. That they are, Horace. That they are.

 

And so ends the epic world wide series of Rangers Apprentice. But there is hope left ...

 

For those of you who thought the epiloge left a lot hanging, I too dearly hope that a second "Royal Ranger" series is made. I really, really want it to happen. Please John Flanagan, listen to your readers. Make another series. Please.

 

 

And just as a last thought. A lot of reviews on Amazon, say to stop at book 11, to preserve a happy ending to the series.

DON'T DO THIS.

This is an important book. It shows Will's resolve and chracter. And brings a final dimension to the series. Will has obviously learned a lot from Halt about being a Ranger. But you cant teach how to teach. And Will does a great job of teaching. Many Ranger's wouldn't have taken a female apprentice on. But not Will. And he taught her wonderfully. Everything Halt taught him, he taught Maddie. And thats what I feel really seals the series. Will goes from being taught to teaching. And he does both wonderfully.

 

This is a wonderful series, and should be read by everyone. See my series page for Rangers Apprentice, for more info on the series as a whole and my thoughts on the series as a whole.