Ranger's Apprentice: The Sorcerer in the North
Random House Australia
“Face your fears, Halt had always taught him, and more often than not they fade like mist in the sunshine” (197).
In the second half of The Sorcerer in the North by John Flanagan, will is on his way to Macindaw, a castle in a northern part of the country, for his first mission as a full fledged Ranger. As a Ranger, he is part of an elite group of some of the best archers, tacticians, and sneaks in the country. At Macindaw, Lord Syron, the leader there, has fallen ill, and many suspect ill doing by a sorcerer. Will is to go dressed as a jester, to blend in and not draw attention to himself as anything more than he is. Flanagan does a good job of keeping the mystery alive in regards to the sorcerer. The reader never knows who it is, but has suspicions, and Flanagan exploits that, keeping the book interesting.
Will meets Orman, the temporary ruler of Macindaw while his father is sick. Will's and his contact Alyss, sent by Crowley and Halt, are suspicious of Orman. Alyss was sent because Will can immediately trust her, and she is capable of the tasks required. Will can trust her because they are long time friends. They are suspicious of Orman because it is likely that he wants the crown from his father. Flanagan does an excellent job of blending the political implications, mystery, investigation, and later fighting, all in one. I also like how Flanagan has Will refer back to advice he has gotten from his mentor Halt. It shows how much of an effect Halt has had on Will, and how a good mentor can make all the difference to a student.
This is a great book that I would absolutely recommend to anyone who loves action and adventure books. Flanagan keep the book exciting and interesting, and blends in just the right amount of humor in the right places, and never forces anything. While it would be best to read all four books in order before this one, this book is a good point to jump in.