Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Rangers Apprentice The Royal Ranger:
Rangers Apprentice #12
by John Flanagan
Random House

Supplied for review by Random HouseNew Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

For all that it is the twelfth and last book in a young adult fantasy series, I have to say this read remarkably well. It had a beginning, a middle and an end, and I had little trouble getting into it. The major characters were well-developed, and the author puts words together in an easy flow.

The plot is simple enough. Rebellious young princess, instead of being married off like the average medieval royal offspring, is apprenticed to a Ranger. Much of the first half of the book revolves around her training and maturation into a civilised human being, learning important lessons about the consequences of her actions – such as getting drunk. The latter half focuses on her first mission as an apprentice, and the rescue of the kidnapped kids.

Flanagan’s world was easy to get into… perhaps too easy. Too simplistic in too many ways, too fraught with anachronisms, and altogether too derivative. There is a clear lack of imagination and depth in world design when you have “Iberian” slavers speaking what is plainly Spanish, abducting children to be taken to “Socorro”. Medieval fantasy worlds don’t have restaurants or the germ theory of disease, they don’t even have teenagers… that concept is a twentieth century invention. The Rangers are far too reminiscent of the Heralds of Valdemar, right down to the talking horses…

Of course, none of these flaws will prevent the intended audience from loving the book. And it is certainly an enjoyable read, with plenty to commend it. I just happen to think that young people deserve better. (Oh, and for those who are curious about such things, you can find the world map on line here).

SFFANZ is a non-profit organisation and registered charity
designed to bring together fans of the fantastic in New Zealand

Contact us by email at: