I dislike when someone asks me what is my favorite book. What is my favorite book? That’s like asking what my favorite movie or favorite food is. In all of these areas I have explored a vast variety of genres and options so that narrowing all the good things I’ve found down to a single opinionated favorite is near impossible. That being said, The Ranger’s Apprentice is definitely one of my favorite book series.
The Ruins of Gorlan is the first book in this epic series. As the title of the series suggests, a young boy, Will, is chosen to be the apprentice to a Ranger. His journey from book to book takes the reader on one adventure after another to protect the kingdom of Araluen. In this first installment Will is chosen as a ranger’s apprentice and begins his training with his new master, Halt. Before long, word begins to spread that an old threat to the kingdom has resurfaced and has sent out his assassins to begin the work of weakening the Kingdom. Will’s training will be pushed to its limits as he follows Halt in hunting their opposition… while they are being hunted as well.
Long story short, I love everything about these books; from the characters, the slow developing plot, to the setting, it all enthralls me. However, I am especially fond of the characters most of all. The plot is great but what I’m finding is that every plot is similar to that of another novel. Pure originality is difficult to come by. Through combining setting, character, and supernatural systems (in regards to fantasy) any author can make a story unique. However, I believe character development is the most effective means by which originality can be achieved.
And so when I read a book with a dynamic character, I am instantly able to more fully engross myself in the story. Dynamic characters signal that the plot is going to be less predictable, more dynamic, and more natural. Lately I have been rather surprised by the number of static characters that exist in literature. I’m not sure why this is the case, but part of me says that it takes much less effort to write a static character. Regardless of the reason, this simple omission can result in a story with great potential settling for good or average status. The most elaborate of plots will be an empty shell if the characters are shallow or weak. I felt that Incarceron, which I reviewed earlier, is one such example of a hollow book.
My favorite character in The Ranger’s Apprentice is Will’s trainer Halt. He’s rough around the edges but caring and friendly underneath the surface. His dialogue is filled with simple wit and sarcasm that makes me laugh and has assisted me with writing my own dialogue. His character develops significantly through out the series due to his association with Will and the many experiences they have together. These changes are essential to successfully create Halt’s image; without them he would only be a shadow of his current persona.
Lingering a bit longer on the topic of characters, Will is a prime example of the common “coming of age” stories. Even in the first book Will goes through several significant changes that move him into the world of being an adult. He learns the worth of responsibility, honor, friendship, loyalty, and courage to act when necessary. The majority of people reading this book will be teenagers either preparing for or enrolled in high school. This is the time in their life when they will need to learn these attributes in order to be prepared for and succeed in life as an adult. These are not easy things to teach but young adults can be introduced to them through fiction and then use the characters as role models in real life.
Having fallen in love with Flanagan’s characters, simplistic but well developed plots, and beautiful setting, I have been warily expecting someone to make this book into a movie. And now that time is approaching. Though the movie is still in the preparatory stages, and thus not yet off the ground, I’m sure it will happen in the not too distant future. Having sworn off watching book adaptations I am filled with both worry and curiosity. I know that good adaptations can be made (Catching Fire for example) but I also know that they can turn out to be incredibly disappointing, with completely different story lines; think Eragon and The Hobbit. My biggest concern is who will be cast. In some instances a few bad actors coupled with some really good ones could balance out. I looked up the director and Paul Haggis seems to be good at what he does, so I have slightly higher hopes for this movie adaptation. However, I have yet to see any of his films so I will have to wait and see. All in all, if it does turn out to be a disaster (though I truly hope not) it will not diminish my appreciation for Flanagan’s literary talent.