Books & More from the Teen Scene

Book reviews and other reflections from one of Oregon's young adult librarians

“The Ruins of Gorlan” by John Flanagan November 2, 2011

Filed under: Fantasy,Fiction,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:06 am
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Flanagan, John. The Ruins of Gorlan. New York: Puffin Books, 2005. 249 pp. ISBN: 9780142406632

Ruins of Gorlan cover

Images courtesy of


Orphaned Will, raised in the castle by a kindly Baron, is chosen to apprentice to the kingdom’s elite Ranger force, leading him into adventures beyond his wildest dreams.


At age 15, all Will wants is for someone to see him as special. Among all the orphans raised as wards in the castle of Baron Arald, he alone lacks any talent that would provide him with a clear path on Choosing Day – the day the orphans are assigned to the realms master craftsmen to begin the apprenticeships that shape their lives.

If only, Will agonizes, if only he had a skill like George’s scholarly demeanor, or Alyss’s gift for diplomacy, or Jenny’s gift for baking. Then, he would feel sure. He is most jealous of all of Horace, the oversized natural athlete who will be a natural to be chosen for Battleschool. More than anything, Will wants to be chosen for the Battleschool and have the chance to rise to knighthood. But – as Horace loves to point out – he is small and not strong and probably not suited.

When Choosing Day has come and gone and Will finds himself apprenticed to the dour and mysterious Ranger Halt, he is distraught and angry, feeling ill-used as his rigorous training begins.

But what no one knows is that forces of evil are on the rise on the edges of the kingdom, forces that will place Will face-to-face with untold danger among the ruins of the ancient castle of Gorlan. In this first book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, he is forced to put scant training to the test and dig deep to see if – perhaps – he may, after all, possess some special talent.

Wait! There’s More:

This series now goes to 11! Look for: The Burning Bridge (2006), The Icebound Land (2007), The Battle for Skandia (2008), The Sorcerer of the North (2008), The Siege of Macindaw (2009), Erak’s Ransom (2010), The Kings of Clonmel (2010), Halt’s Peril (2010), The Emperor of Nihon-Ja (2011), and The Lost Stories (2011).

Teen View (courtesy of

Awards/Honors (source:

  • Finalist, Aurealis Awards 2004
  • CBC Notable Book for Younger Readers 2005

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