Books by John Flanagan

THE TOURNAMENT AT GORLAN by John Flanagan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 6, 2015

"Light on action, and heavy on witty banter, this prequel series kickoff is more for confirmed fans than those just coming to know the Rangers. (Adventure. 10-14)"
Lord Morgarath, the baron of Gorlan Fief, has been systematically dismantling the Ranger Corps, a band of soldiers appointed to protect the kingdom of Araluen. Read full book review >
THE ROYAL RANGER by John Flanagan
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 5, 2013

"An excellent addition to a favorite series; the short breather did Flanagan good. (Fantasy. 10-14)"
Flanagan returns to the kingdom of Araluen for another adventure, reuniting readers with familiar characters and introducing them to a new generation of heroes and villains. Read full book review >
THE EMPEROR OF NIHON-JA by John Flanagan
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2011

The 10th and final full-length episode in an alternate-Earth series that's just about reached its sell-by date unites the five members of the central cast in yet another rescue mission to a distant land. This time its a thinly disguised medieval Japan, where bluff young warrior Horace has been swept up in the entourage accompanying a kindly emperor who is on the run from a vicious usurper. Thanks to a sequence of massive coincidences, he is soon joined in a remote mountain fortress by Rangers Will (who graduated from "apprentice" about five volumes ago) and his crusty mentor Halt, plus temperamental Princess Evanlyn and her spunky frenemy Alyss. While the usurper and his forces obligingly winter nearby, the menfolk train a peasant army for the true emperor while Evanlyn and Alyss set out to recruit more allies and have an air-clearing heart-to-heart about who really loves whom. By the end battles are won, bad guys slain, feasts held and everyone heads home for weddings and further adventures. The "keep it simple" approach has served Flanagan—and readers who prefer predictable plots and easily recognizable settings and character types—well, but the formula has staled. "The Final Battle" blazoned on the cover indicates a recognition of this fact, though loose ends leave open the possibility of further, as-yet-unplanned developments. Here's hoping a break will restore zing to future adventures. (Fantasy. 11-13)Read full book review >
THE BATTLE FOR SKANDIA by John Flanagan
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2008

Taking up where the previous episode, Icebound Land (2007), left off, the latest chapter in this unusually well-founded heroic fantasy reunites the four central characters—then sends them back into the hands of the (Viking-like) Skandians to defend these erstwhile enemies against an invading army of (Mongol-like) Temujai. As before, Flanagan expertly juggles the overall plot line, in which the four struggle with confusion because they're not sure how or what they feel about each other, with a logically constructed campaign that culminates in a hard, suspenseful battle. The author wears his influences on his sleeve but he wears them well, and like Tamora Pierce shows a knack for crafting adolescent warriors and mentors that never go stale, however long the haul may be. Readers who hate tales that end in cliffhangers will also appreciate the definite (though probably deceptive) feeling of resolution at the close. (Fantasy. 11-13)Read full book review >
THE ICEBOUND LAND by John Flanagan
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2007

A mild case of middle-volume-itis afflicts the third episode in this increasingly popular fantasy series, as Flanagan alternates short chapters to weave a double-stranded tale that advances the main story only an inch or two while filling out the page count with incidental adventures and repetitive explanations. In the odd-numbered chapters, Will and Evanlyn, enslaved by Skandian (Viking) captors in the previous volume, manage to escape into the snowy northern mountains, but only after Will acquires an addiction to warmweed, a brain-numbing narcotic. In the even-numbered ones, Will's Ranger mentor Halt and talented knight-in-training Horace set out through Gallica (France) on a rescue mission, and are themselves temporarily imprisoned by a cruel robber baron. The author hasn't expended much effort to develop original cultures or characters, but—repeated side comments and references to past events aside—his fluent writing, engaging protagonists and credibly choreographed fight scenes will keep readers involved. (Fantasy. 11-13)Read full book review >
THE BURNING BRIDGE by John Flanagan
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2006

More absorbing, straight-arrow adventures set in the medieval, alternate world kingdom of Araluen and featuring the three apprentices introduced in The Ruins of Gorlan (2005). As the brutish wargals of Morgorath, Lord of Rain and Night, gather for an invasion, deft young Will and his strapping friend Horace discover that Morgorath has planned a complex feint that, unless scotched, will spell doom for the armies of Araluen. The third apprentice, diplomat-in-training Alyss, is relegated to a subplot in this outing, but is sure to play larger roles in future episodes. Flanagan explains more than he needs to but propels the plot forward at a heady clip, stirring in live-wire characters who are still learning the finer points of their assigned professions but prove equal to each challenge they face. He also adds to the company a young fugitive who is far more than the lady's maid she claims to be, and closes with the requisite battle, a breathtaking single combat—and a dismaying lead-in to the next episode. It all adds up to a winning formula that should prove out to a long, steady run for this above average series. (Fantasy. 11-13)Read full book review >
THE RUINS OF GORLAN by John Flanagan
CHILDREN'S
Released: June 1, 2005

Sturdily competent fantasy from a veteran Australian screenwriter, this quartet opener introduces five teenaged orphans raised together in the medieval-like kingdom of Araluen, focusing on the apprenticeship of wiry, clever Will to a mysterious scout/spy, and on Will's changing relations with oversized, rival-later-friend Horace. Though Will's slight physique keeps him out of Battleschool, his first choice, it turns out to be just the ticket for Ranger work, which combines survival skills and keen powers of observation with the ability to move about unseen. As Will is learning these arts, Horace is finding Battleschool almost more than he can handle, thanks to a trio of particularly brutal bullies—and further afield, evil Lord Morgarath, being bent on conquest, has sent two kalkera, brutish bear/apes, out to assassinate Araluen's most prominent war leaders. Flanagan does nothing to boost his typecast characters, familiar themes or conventional, video-game plot above the general run, but readers with a taste for quickly paced adventure with tidy, predictable resolutions (kalkera and bullies vanquished, Will and Horace heroes and buddies) won't be disappointed. (Fantasy. 11-13)Read full book review >