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.
Flanagan manages to do it again – he takes a well-known culture and uses it to build another fascinating world in his The Ranger’s Apprentice seires. This time, it is to the mountainous slopes of Japan and Asia that we are able to visit through such a fantastical lens. I love the vividness of the world which Flanagan has created, and the genuine level of research which he has obviously put into his work.
Will’s love and care for Halt shine throughout this next chapter in The Ranger’s Apprentice series. Mostly this is due to, as the title says, Halt’s Peril. However, it is also the first time that they truly work together since Will’s graduation into the ranks of the Rangers. While the dynamic has changed slightly, much of their relationship has remained the same, and it is fun to understand how they have transformed over the years. Especially Will.
Erak’s Ransom showed Will’s dedication to his horse, and The Roamers provided a great reminder of this – in the extent to which Will will go to rescue his dog. It is the ultimate display of affection between a man and his dog, the proverbial best friend – for both of them. Ebony is incredibly loyal and obedient (something that I still struggle to achieve with my dogs), and Will will do anything to protect her and keep her out of harm’s way.