Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ranger's Apprentice: Erak's Ransom

Ranger's Apprentice: Erak's Ransom

John Flanagan
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Penguin, 2010   ISBN: 978-0399252051

In just a few months, Will is going to end his apprenticeship with Halt and he will finally become a full fledged Ranger. Though Will has been looking forward to this for years, he now wonders if he is ready to become a Ranger. How will he manage without Halt, his teacher and mentor, at his side? Halt meanwhile has decided that he needs a change in his life. Soon he will be alone again, and the idea does not appeal to him. He wants a home of his own and someone to share his life with him. To the amazement of all his friends, Halt and his longtime love, Pauline, decide that this is the perfect time to get married.

On the day of the wedding, there is a large celebration at Castle Redmond. Halt and his bride and their guests have just started to dance when an unexpected visitor arrives; it is Svengal the Skandian, and he has come to Araluen to ask for help. He explains that Erak, the leader of the Skandians, was take prisoner during a raid on a town in the kingdom of Arrida. Erak asked Svengal to come to Araluen to get help. The Arridi are asking for a ransom for Erak, and the hope is that King Duncan will pay the ransom on Erak’s behalf.

After some discussion, it is decided that Princess Cassandra will go to Arrida to arrange for the payment of the ransom. Will, Halt, Gilan, Horace, and some soldiers, will go along to guard the princess and to secure her safety.

At first, all goes will in Arrida. Negotiations proceed reasonably smoothly, and the final ransom amount is decided upon. Then the princess asks to see Erak. She is told that the Skandian has been sent to the town of Mararoc and that they will have to go there to get him. To get to Mararoc, the travelers have to cross a desert, and though the conditions are harsh, the journey is not very eventful. Then a sandstorm hits, and Will’s beloved horse Tug goes missing. Will decides to look for his horse and he leaves the party. He will join up with everyone in Mararoc, hopefully with Tug in tow.

Soon after Will leaves his friends, the situation for him and for the others starts to deteriorate, fast. Will gets lost in the desert, and his friends find out that the caravan that Erak was traveling with was attached by Tualaghi tribesman. They have taken Erak captive and it is going to be very hard to get the Skandian back.

This is the seventh book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, though chronically speaking the story takes place before the fifth book. The story perfectly captures Wills concerns about becoming a Ranger, and Halt’s struggles as he comes to terms with the fact that Will is no longer a boy who does not know what he is doing. Packed with high adventure, plenty of fight scenes, and much more, this story gives us John Flanagan at his storytelling best.