I remember how difficult it was to go through puberty, as would almost everyone out there who is reading this. Now, imagine what that would be like as a young girl, surrounded by a bunch of lads who want to whack you with sticks day in and day out.
There is an inequality in the way men and women are treated in modern society. Although this has become slowly reduced over the past century, the inequality is evident in our everyday lives. First Test is a great reminder of this. As the first girl willing to take up the mantel of knight (something which is regaled to a man’s role in popular history), Keladry is forced to overcome obstacle after obstacle. Hurdles which none of her male counterparts are required to conquest.
I’m still not entirely sure about my thoughts on this addition to The Ranger’s Apprentice series. on the one hand, it is really enjoyable to see what has happened to the characters almost fifteen years after the last book. But, on the other hand, the bitter creature that Will has become is really disconcerting. Plus, killing off one of my favourite characters in a series always makes me unsure about how far I want to progress into the book. It’s definitely worth it, but it is incredibly difficult to throw yourself into The Royal Ranger compared with the rest of the books in this series.
I’m beginning to think that all good series need a collection of short stories to go with them. It helps to round out storylines that don’t actually have a place in the main series, but still hold a place in our hearts. The Lost Stories did exactly this. Not only did it help to answer some of the unanswered questions throughout the series – both the ones I knew to ask, and the ones I had no idea I needed answered until I read the tale.
The relationship between the Rangers and their mounts is definitely a thing of folklore within The Ranger’s Apprentice series. Their connection is beautifully uncanny and lasts through the years of conflict and danger that each Ranger must undergo. However, I never quite thought about, or even understood (once I did think about it) how the Ranger’s could keep one mount for such a long period. After all, a human’s life span, and even the period over which they are able to work is much longer than that of a horse’s working life span.
I’ve been looking forward to Will and Alyss’ wedding ever since The Sorcerer in the North. So, to have a very sweet, intimate short story that tells of their picturesque ceremony bought more than a tear to my eye. Where the story of Evanlyn and Horace’s wedding was filled with fanfare and drama, Will’s and Alyss’ was simple and small – something that actually seems like the most perfect wedding in my eyes.
I can’t imagine a greater hell (and more complex act) than organising a wedding. Especially one for royalty. Include in that the fact that there is the threat of assassins hanging over the festivities, and you have a great short story. Will’s love for, and dedication to those he calls family shines through this story and acts as a reminder that sometimes, even in spite of what everyone else says, we have to follow our instincts.
Jenny and Gilan is a relationship that I didn’t quite see coming – but, surprisingly it works. So, a short story about this out-of-the-spotlight couple was a perfect edition to the collection of short stories in The Lost Stories. And, like all Ranger’s Apprentice stories, there is an element of crime, subterfuge and justice. Dinner for Five is a great little side line that reminds us that, even when they are not necessarily trained, women (like Jenny) are able to take care of themselves and defend those that they love.
Trying to tell people how deeply you care about them, and what they truly mean to you is difficult under the best of circumstances. Doing so in front of hundreds of others, and in a formal setting? I can’t imagine how horrifying and intimidating that could be. Yet, Will deals with this pressure in a fairly unique way – he becomes so flamboyant with his words that even I, who loves convoluted sentences, found the terms used irritating and difficult.
I always wondered how Hope and Karl met each other – and, more importantly, why their relationship continued after their abnormal first meeting. Chaotic not only answered this question, but it also showed how Hope’s first forays into the supernatural world went. The intricate relationships between the characters of the Women of the Otherworld series is shown in Hope’s embroilment with the Cabals, the supernatural council, and ultimately, with the jewellery-thief werewolf.