I was OBSESSED with this series as a kid! My brother and I devoured every book and then proceeded to take our bows and arrows into the yard and shoot all the things. Mostly hay bales. I got whiplash from the bow string on my face. (Apparently that’s not normal?) Basically: RANGER’S APPRENTICE WAS EVERYTHING AND SHOOTING STUFF WAS GREAT. And even back then I wished there was a series about Halt and Crowley, the sassy mentors.
And, oh gosh, here it is. I was ridiculously excited when I heard Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years series was starting. Squeak!
The Tournament at Gorlan wasn’t exactly what I thought it’d be…so I confess: I’m a slightly disappointed little pumpkin plant. I imagined it’d be about Halt and Crowley BECOMING Rangers! Their first missions and sass and learning fails. But, no. When the book starts, they ARE Rangers and they’re actually gathering other rangers to go defeat Moragrath. So. Okay then.
It’s got John Flanagan’s classic style and snark. AND I HAVE INFINITE LOVE FOR HALT AND CROWLEY. It was nice to be back in the RA world, too, since it’s been like…7 years since I was fully obsessed with it?! Being an ancient melon now and not 14 years old, shooting hay bales in the backyard (and probably terrifying the neighbours) has made me realise I’ve grown out of the series a bit. The simplicity of the plot in this book didn’t excite me.
But I also blame my pineapple brain for thinking the book would be about something it’s not. MY BAD. Also, before picking up this book, you need to have read Rangers Apprentice 11: The Lost Stories. The first chapter in The Tournament at Gorlan DOES sum it up, but you need the short story of Halt the Hibernian. But honestly? I wanted to know more about Halt’s past/childhood instead of just a referral back to a teeny tiny short story.
CAN WE HAVE A PREQUEL FOR THE PREQUEL PLEASE????
There was still the golden snort-worthy humour that I love so much! Although I didn’t think it was as funny as the original Ranger’s Apprentice books. Overall it was a more serious book. But, ahhh, I still cackled because Halt and Crowley dish out some epic love/hate remarks.
“I’ve been thinking…” Crowley began, leaving the sentence hanging for a few seconds.
Halt shook his head. “And here I am without pen or parchment to record this momentous event.”
“A wise man once told me, don’t believe anything you hear until you’ve seen it with your own eyes,” Halt said.
Crowley looked up at him. “Who said that? Pritchard?” It sounded like the sort of thing he might say.
Halt affected to think for a few seconds, then gave a slight smile. “No. I think it was me, actually. I can be very wise at times.”
All in all, I still like this series and it’s a solid prequel! It’s like a million warm fuzzy childhood memories (and by “warm” and “fuzzy” I mean “the-time-I-nearly-shot-my-brother-with-a-homemade-arrow” and “the-time-I-stole-the-books-from-my-brother’s-room-because-I-wanted-to-read-it-first”). The whole idea of King’s Rangers and their epic bow skills is just freakishly awesome. I definitely blame this series on what got me hooked on writing fantasy. (And hello?!? My blog design has ARROWS. I love archery!) Although little things bother me now, like all the omnipresent narrative, the plot simplicity, and how evil vs good is very caricatured. BUT IT’S STILL A GOOD BOOK. Definitely recommended for lower-Young-Adult, though.
I think you’d appreciate this book more if you read the Rangers Apprentice series first. But you totally don’t have to. Just my suggestion. Although my suggestions are golden, let’s admit it.
THANK YOU TO PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE AUSTRALIA FOR THE REVIEW-COPY! The Tournament At Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice The Early Years #1) by John Flanagan came out 16th of September, 2015.
From John Flanagan, author of the worldwide bestselling Ranger’s Apprentice—the first in a new prequel series featuring one of our favorite Rangers, Halt!
When Halt and Crowley discover that the ambitious Morgarath has been infiltrating the Rangers in order to corrupt the corps, the young Rangers travel north to Gorlan, seeking a royal warrant to stop Morgarath before it is too late. By weakening the Rangers, the most powerful force in support of the king, Morgarath plans to steal the throne. Yet when Halt and Crowley arrive in Gorlan, they discover just how close Morgarath’s scheme is to taking root. Prince Duncan has already been taken prisoner and an imposter installed in his place. All the while, Morgarath has been earning trust and admiration from the Council of Barons while he secretly assembles a powerful force of his own. If the young Rangers are to prevent the coup from succeeding, they will need to prove their mettle in battles the like of which neither has ever faced.
This origin story brings readers to a time before Will was a Ranger’s apprentice, and lays the groundwork for the epic battles that have already captivated fans of the Ranger’s Apprentice series around the world.