As I've almost reached eighteen years of age I've tended to drift away from reading YA fiction. I read mostly classics or more adult fiction nowadays. And yet there are some series which are capable of bridging age gaps despite having been written for a younger audience. I believe the best stories can cover all age brackets making them accessible to a wide audience. This novel is one of those books in my opinion. Or at least the development of the series is.
I could spend time reviewing the entire series but I'll stick to reviewing the first novel from the perspective of the series. The Ruins of Gorlan is a good novel but it does draw very strongly on other fantasy novels such as Lord of the Rings in the creation of its Warguls and Morgarath. Yet what is most impressive about the series is that it develops from then on. From the third book onwards the series branches out into a world of its own that draws upon our history to establish its own thrilling tales.
The world of the Ranger's Apprentice books becomes not dissimilar from a middle-ages version of our own. There is an England replacement, a Japan replacement, a French replacement, a land of viking like people and a whole load more of exotic races and lands. There is no magic really in the series strictly. Although I must state that Morgarath uses a sort of psychic link with his Wargul forces to control them. The lack of magic makes for a refreshingly different fantasy read.
I enjoy the world John Flanagan has created but what really keeps me buying the books is the characters he's created. Each individual has his or her own personality. The women are not weak or mindless characters either which is a refreshing change. But back on that you have: Will who is basically more of a trickster and uses lots of words; Horace who's a laconic kind of character and tends to be a methodical thinker; Alys the quick thinking and astute woman; Halt the grizzled old ranger who is perhaps my favourite character with his wry wit and grimmer attitude; and a whole ton of characters I can't describe without ruining the story. I'd read these books for the characters and their interactions alone because they are stellar.
These are books I believe adults and youth can read. My mum's a fan of them and I've been a fan ever since I picked up the first novel in grade eight. I would have been about thirteen...
So if you haven't read this series begin because even though there is ten or so books each can easily be read in a day. Actually each can easily be read in a day because they are simply so engrossing.
14th June 2012 Note: I have to feel a sense of glee over the fact that I got my sister, who reads very few series in a row - in fact she rarely reads many series or many books - hooked on this series. She's reading her fifth one right now and she's been racing through them. The next stage of the plan will be to introduce her to Lord of the Rings hehehe and then maybe one day she'll read as much as I do and as much as my mother does.