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Will wants more than anything to be a Battleschool apprentice.

He believes that his deceased father must have been a knight… Although no one’s for sure. No one knows who his parents were. But Will knows it in his heart, and believes that going into Battleschool would make his father proud.

Unfortunately, Will is small, not just in height, but in width, and looks puny next to Horace, who teases him every day for it. Horace will undoubtedly make it to Battleschool. It’s not looking so good for Will.

On Choosing Day, the day when the castle wards can request to be apprenticed in the craft of their choice, every one of the other children seems to get their wish. Alyss is to be apprenticed by Lady Pauline in diplomatic services, Jenny gets to work in the castle kitchens, Horace is chosen for Battleschool…. And Will is the only one left.

But Sir Rodney regretfully informs Will that he is just too small, as does the Ulf, the Horsemaster. Will doesn’t want to be a scribe or a diplomat…… And he begins to cry.

But there’s one person left, and that’s Halt, the mysterious Ranger of Redmond Fief.

Rangers are feared among the kingdom by the common folk. They believe them to be sorcerers, for they are silent as ghosts and can move without being seen.

As a matter of fact, Rangers are just trained to see without being seen. That’s what they are. They spy, they gather information, they report to King Duncan. Sometimes they go on special missions. One thing is for sure…. The townsfolk might be scared of Rangers for their mysterious nature, but enemies of the country, Araluen, tremble at the mere mention of the Rangers.

They are dangerous. They are smart. They are cunning. They are fast. And they are very, very clever.

And Halt thinks to himself, “Will’s got what it takes.” He had watched Will grow up; seen him climbing trees nimbly, sneaking around the castle, trying to avoid and hide from Horace.

Yes, Will would make an excellent Ranger.

Tongue Scale: rated “Slap On the Wrist”

There is very little swearing in the books (although it needs to be noted that there is some). The occasional use of God’s name in vain, a rare “d*mn” or use of “hell” in an inappropriate context.

Firecracker Scale: rated “Kindling”

I don’t believe there was any sexual content at all in this first installment of the series, but there are rare instances of romance later on, but nothing inappropriate or bad. Sometimes the characters kiss, but the boys show respect for their ladies and the ladies show respect for their men, and they are generally very healthy relationships.

Gore Gauge: rated “People Get Wounded”

Sometimes the bad guys get killed, and sometimes the good guys even get killed. But never is the violence overwhelming, and never is it described in such a way that it would make someone ill or sick. There’s some sword-fighting and lots of archery, battle scenes and fight scenes, but again, never to the point that it could deter or upset.

Other Negative Content:

There is the occasional drinking of alcohol. Also, later on in the series, you are introduced to the Skandians, who are a Viking-like people. They raid. They pillage, they plunder. The reason I mention them is because they could very well be considered a negative element to the story.

John Flanagan is quite good at making his characters likable, as I have mentioned. They are all crafted beautifully. Unfortunately, he characterizes the Skandians, a race of people who would normally be considered bad, with admirable and good qualities.

I find it difficult to find the distinction between right and wrong there. While the Skandians are a loyal, humorous bunch of people, I have a hard time remembering that they are killers, and they are mercenaries.

Positive Content:

I have pretty much been enchanted with this story since I first started reading the series. It’s beautifully written, and the characters are so lovable. I don’t believe I have ever fallen in love with every character in a story, yet I have managed to do so here. Minus, of course, obviously, the evil, villainous characters.

I love Will. I have from the very beginning. He is so unsure of himself, unaware that he is so much more capable then he believes. But Halt believes in him.

That’s probably my favorite part of the whole story: Halt and Will’s relationship. It is just so endearing. Halt grows to love Will, and Will grows to love Halt; they treat each other as father and son.

Halt’s words of pride for Will are more than enough praise for him. They both, at any point, would give their lives for each other.

Horace turns out to be a key player in the story. After a few days in Battleschool to straighten him out, Horace becomes a humble, brave, loyal companion to Will… And a dear friend.

There is more than enough “good message” to go around. Most days, the bad guys get put in their place. Any of the characters would give their lives for each of the others…. Betrayal, treachery, disloyalty is all looked down upon and punished.

I like how throughout the whole series, there are people (including the Rangers), who are constantly mistaken for sorcerers or witches. But John Flanagan focuses on what the human being can do, and there is specifically no magic or sorcery in the books. They are just people who are incredibly good at their craft, whether it’s medicine or sneaking around and spying on people.

The story is full of positive messages. I love the characters, I love the story. All the way around, I love the series.

PS, guys – if there’s a book you specifically want reviewed, just comment. I’ll be happy to look into it, but I won’t guarantee it.

Have a great week! 😀

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