Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan Book Poster Image

Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan



1st in popular series has positive characters, some battles.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value
Not applicable
Positive messages

Respect, service, trust, community, honor, and courage -- the messages are strong and enduring. There's also a lesson about handling bullies.

Positive role models

Will is lucky to be surrounded by men who are strong and caring role models, even though he never knew his father. Although Will is being tested in many ways, including giving up his dream of becoming a warrior, he finds out that hardships early in life don't have to limit what he makes of his own future. He also learns how grace, good humor, hard work and patience can bring greater things than fame and fortune.


Some battle scenes include a monster set on fire and killed; battles fought with swords, bows, and axes; a gory boar hunt; and bullying of one character that includes being beaten unconscious.

Not applicable

Single usage of "damn" and "hellish."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although there are some violent battle scenes at the start of this fantasy epic series, the forboding cover of the hooded figure is little misleading; the Rangers may be secretive, but they value honor, community, and courage. A subplot about a boy being bullied and tolerating it because he assumes it's condoned by the adults around him is a good conversation-starter for parents and kids.

What's the story?

Choosing Day comes annually when the orphans of the Court learn which guild or school has chosen them for apprenticeship. Fifteen-year-old Will has dreamed of going to Battle School and becoming a soldier hero like his father was. Instead he is apprenticed to the Rangers -- a mysterious guild feared by many of the villagers. Such Ranger apprenticeships are rare, but it's still hard to see his nemesis Horace head off for Battle School instead of him. Will's life changes dramatically after he moves in with the Ranger called Halt, and soon he is learning to use a bow, to track, to break and ride a horse, and even to cook. Before he is fully trained he must learn to hunt, choose allegiances, and trust his instincts as a vanquished villain reappears with armies of monsters.

Is it any good?


This is a very popular series for good reason. Will is a very likable young man who doesn't quite recognize his own skills yet, and he's still learning that being small on the outside doesn't determine the size of his capabilities. He's not ready to believe that adults always know what's best, even if they are royalty. That stubborn streak, and similar qualities in his friends who alternately doubt and believe in themselves, make these characters real and leave them room to grow over the next volumes in the series.

Some lovely world building, good humor, strong adult characters, and the openness of some plot lines, including whether Will become a warrior or not, combine to make this epic livelier and more fun than many fantasies written for this age. For families who like fantasy, or for encouraging a reluctant readers, this would make a great read-aloud.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the idea of having a vocation chosen for you. In what ways does our culture do this? Talk about European cultures where the results of a single exam can determine whether one can attend university, or countries where one's choices are always limited by location or class.

  • Why was Horace bullied? Why did Horace tolerate the treatment? What could he have done? This same kind of bullying goes on in our schools and online; what can be done? What should be done?

  • This volume tells the story of Will. What did you think about the roles of Jenny and Alyss?

Book details

Author:John Flanagan
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:July 19, 2006
Number of pages:249
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12

This review of Ranger's Apprentice, Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan was written by

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Parent of a 8 and 10 year old Written bycvanorder June 22, 2010

Love the series

Both my boys love this series. Great role models and positive messages. Characters are well developed and the story line moves at a good pace.
What other families should know
Great messages
Teen, 17 years old Written byEliasador April 27, 2011

Breathtakingly Brilliant!!!!

It is the spectacular kickoff to one of the best series that I have read in a few years. I have just finished the fourth one and I loved it. I can't stop thinking about. I NEED the next one!!!! I cannot rest until I have the next one!!!! The only reason I am writing this review is because I do not have the fifth one at my fingertips. If I had it, I would be curled up on the couch until I had read it cover to cover, for these books are nearly impossible to put down.
Teen, 13 years old Written byBluegillkid January 26, 2011

This book rocks

It is a good way to get kids to read or to continue reading
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models


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