Title: The Sorcerer in the North
Author: John Flanagan
Series: The Ranger’s Apprentice #5
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Easy reading, Medieval fantasy
Publisher: Random House Australia
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘Oh dear,’ said Alyss to Will.
Five years have passed since the Skandians and the Araluans made their treaty, and Will has finally become a Ranger, with his own fief to look after. He soon learns that even sleepy little islands have problems to keep him on his toes.
Then he and his old friend Alyss are thrown into a terrifying new adventure, investigating the truth behind rumours of sorcery in a remote northern fief. As he stands in Grimsdell Wood, with the horrific, ghostly Night Warrior looming above him, will must ask himself one question: is there a rational explanation… or does sorcery really exist?
On his first top-secret mission, can will save a new ally from a terrible curse?
The first four books in The Ranger’s Apprentice series focus on Will’s apprenticeship, and therefore, a lot of the time, it is Halt that eventually gets him out of the slightly tricky situations in which he finds himself. However, as a newly qualified Ranger, Will must find his own style and strength on his first solo mission. This progression of Will’s place in society is so seamless, that it isn’t until at least halfway through the book that you realise that you are half waiting for Halt to appear out of nowhere to offer some friendly advice and guidance.
People’s perceptions on how you look, how you act, how you seem very quickly tend to inform their ideas about your ‘worth’, or even whether you are a good person or bad. The Sorcerer in the North highlights this, turning those you feel to be villains into the good guys, and the seemingly jovial into the traitors. It is a great reminder that not is all as it seems – especially in a world of espionage and war. I loved this sudden of turning of perceptions within the story, especially since I am one that often gets judged very quickly for the way that she looks.
Alyss has been present from the very first Ranger’s Apprentice story, however, it is only now that she is grown that we get to genuinely meet and admire her. Although she appears to be simply a politician, Flanagan echoes his comments on perceptions by showing her to be a strong and deceptive young woman. Her ability to act as another and partake in the ‘cloak and dagger’ of spy-work is incredibly enjoyable to read, and I can’t wait to see what role she plays in The Siege of Macindaw.
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