Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One Shot World Tour: Best Read with Vegemite Part 2

I have a love for sidekicks. What would Harry be without Ron & Hermione? Buffy without the Scoobies? Colin without Hassan? Russel without Min & Gunnar? Sidekicks are the salt and pepper of life; totally essential. The hero is just bland without them.

True to this sentiment, the Ranger's Apprentice series by Australian author John Flanagan just wouldn't be the same without Horace. He's a bit of the strong silent type, and maybe not quite as clever as our hero, the eponymous Ranger's Apprentice, Will, but some of the greatest triumphs in the series have been Horace's. Furthermore, Horace is the most dynamic character - he's grown the most, and is, frankly, the source of most of the laughter. And after this latest installment, I'm almost beginning to think that the series should be named after Horace, rather than Will.

Last we saw dear Will, in The Burning Bridge, he and Evelyn had been kidnapped by the Skandians - the very men they had been fighting. They have been made slaves to the violent, Viking-like society in The Icebound Land. Meanwhile, Halt (the Ranger) has been refused permission to go after his kidnapped apprentice and is about to take drastic measures. Measures that will certainly alter the course of his life - if they don't kill him.

Horace enters the story and suddenly the tale has got some legs. Horace and Halt play off each other so well. There's humor and their storyline has the most action. Will and Evelyn are definitely in serious danger, but I (a lowly reader), think it might have worked better had Evelyn & Will's roles been reversed. However, Erak, their captor, is a lovely, complex character. I'm quite glad to see that book 7 is entitled Erak's Ransom. It's ominous, but I'd very much like to see this character come back (and not go the way of some other lovely characters from book 1; into oblivion).

What bothered me:
Will. Seriously. That storyline better pay off down the road, 'cause otherwise...
This book felt very much like a bridge. Something to get us from book 2 to book 4 (The Oakleaf Bearers). We were just marking time. Will went through some hellish stuff, and I hope that there is some lingering affect to effect some character development. I guess I could always order the next FOUR books that are out in Australia and find out. By the way, What on Earth is the hold up? Is the Penguin/Philomel afraid of flooding the market? I know I'm not the only crazy fanatic out there for this series. Dude. We are SO going to read them. Just hurry up already!

Still a great series, and Ruins of Gorlan is still one of the books I give out most at the library.

Books by Australian Authors that I've talked about in the past:

Across the Wall by Garth Nix
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Does My Head Look Big in This by Randa Abdel-Fattah
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty
The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan
Undine by Penni Russon
The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

(via Chasing Ray)
Colleen @ Chasing Ray: Nick Earls
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
interviews Margo Lanagan
Kelly Fineman: Melina Marchetta
Big A, little A : Anna Feinberg
Jenn @ Not Your Mother's Bookclub interviews Simmone Howell
Chicken Spaghetti : Kathy Hoopmann's All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome
Gwenda at Shaken and Stirred: How Sassy Changed My Life, The Red Shoes by Ursula Dubosarsky and more with Margo Lanagan
Jen Robinson : John Marsden's "Tomorrow" series
Finding Wonderland : Undine by Penni Russon and Jaclyn Moriarty's titles
Little Willow: Finding Grace by Alyssa Brugman
Liz @ A Chair, a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy: Catherine Jinks and her four "Pagan" books
The Ya Ya Yas: interview Queenie Chan
Fuse Number 8: John Marsden & new HMOCL, Andy Griffiths
Jenny Davidson: Peter Temple.
Mother Reader: Am I Right or Am I Right? by Barry Jonsberg.

There. That'll keep you busy!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I'll have to keep my eye out for this one.

Erin said...

My brother really likes theses books; I have yet to read them.

tanita✿davis said...

You know, I have to admit that I looked at these books and passed them over. I kind of said, "Hm. Rangers." And now I must get back to them (finding a library in Glasgow will be my FIRST job.)

Anonymous said...

I had a young patron at my former library who LOVED these books, and even though if he liked something it usually meant I would too, I still haven't gotten around to them. Thanks for the kick in the pants!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that you all haven't read this series.....I loved it.

Anonymous said...

I love sidekicks too. Definitely adore Hassan.