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Ranger’s Apprentice #5: Sorcerer of the North
by John Flanagan
“You’d be surprised what people will believe. Usually, the bigger and the more improbable the lie, the more willing they are to believe it.”
Since Will has graduated and become a full-fledged Ranger, he is assigned to a new fief in the southern part of the country. He is only there a few days before he makes both friends and enemies. But, before he can get settled in, the Ranger Corps has a secret assignment for him, delivered by his childhood friend (and somewhat sweetheart) Alyss. He is to investigate the sudden and strange ailment that has befallen one of the Lords in the North. It’s mysterious occurrence sends the rumors of an old sorcerer flying through the countryside and as such, Will is sent undercover as a minstrel to gain the people’s trust.
Unfortunately when he gets to Castle Macindaw, Lord Syron’s son and heir, Orman, is haughty and cold, making him a likely target for his father’s condition. His cousin Keren seems to be the opposite however, full of laughs and ease. Alyss arrives at the castle, in disguise as a noble lady, to aid Will in his investigation but before they can get any idea of who the villain is, things turn dangerous for both of them.
Just to warn you all, this ends on a cliffhanger. A freaking cliffhanger! I’m so glad I have the next book with me so I don’t have to freak out over the next few days. That would be bad. Also, it’s titled differently depending on which cover you have. Sometimes it’s “The Sorcerer OF the North” and sometimes “The Sorcerer IN the North”. Either way is correct I guess.
Anyways! Onward to the review!
I didn’t like this one as much as his other books. I thought it was a bit slow at first, and was confused about the change in venue after Will had just barely gotten to his new fief. But, the further I got into the book, the more I understood why (and you will to if you read it!) That being said, I did like the more “cloak and dagger” approach.
It was fun to see a different side to Will. While his acting is somewhat forced, it shows us a bit more of his skill set. I loved that we saw more of his leadership skills in Erak’s Ransom, but this one shows his aptitude for remaining unseen, even in public. He’s not perfect though and he does slip up, letting the more wary and intelligent people around him know that something is off. But that just makes him human.
I also thought it was a fun to see Alyss in this one! I hope he has her in more of the books (I’m pretty sure she’s in the next one cause CLIFFHANGER!). She’s been trained really well, and it’s good to see another girl getting to have as much fun as the boys do.
What I didn’t like was that at the beginning of the book Will “gives” a bad guy to some Skandians to sell as a slave when they return home. It left a bad taste in my mouth and although it does come back to bite him (as it should since he was such a jerk), I still think it was a poor writer’s choice. But that’s just my opinion and since this was a CLIFFHANGER! I guess I have to wait and see why it is relevant.
Age Group: 14+
To readers: This book is a little slower than the others, but you get more spy stuff in this. It’s a fun change! There’s not too much violence, which I personally liked, but there’s enough fighting to keep you on your toes. It is a cliffhanger ending so be sure to have book 6 with you when you read it! And as always, if something in the book worries you, talk to someone about it! You shouldn’t have to read something you don’t like. You can put down the book, get someone else to read that passage then tell you about it, or even look up the plot on Wikipedia. I’ve done that before for books! Always remember that you are entitled to your feelings and you should never be ashamed of asking for help.
To parents/teachers: This book is less violent than the others but has more language. Nothing harder than normal, just more occurrences. There are some moments of what could be considered mild “thriller/horror” but it’s more like a spooky Halloween ghost story moment. *SPOILER* There is no sorcery involved, just illusions and tricks *SPOILER*
Content Concerns: Mild fighting, poisoning, mind control, rejection because of differences
Language: 2/10 I rated this higher because there were more occurrences of swear words than the other books.
H**l p. 221
Lord’s name in vain p. 85, 105, 250, 251, 278
D**n p. 71, 74, 160, 176, 219, 239, 249, 295
p. 245-246 talk of characters having been driven from their homes because they are different.
Violence: 2/10 Minimal compared to the last couple books
p. 5-7 An animal has been severely injured
p. 69 Mild fight, some knife throwing and a blow to the head
p. 72-74 A character is “given” to Skandians as a slave
p. 82 Talk of a character having been tied to a millstone and forced to mill flour for 5 years
p. 90-91 Talk of a character being poisoned
p. 213 A characters shoots arrows at others, we don’t hear if any of them have been injured/killed.
p. 219 A character his hit with an arrow (mild description)
p. 246 An animal is mentioned to have been killed while trying to protect it’s owner (not a main character)
p. 248 Mention of blood
p. 292-294 Mild description of injures to hands, knees and feet. Mild chaos and chase.
Sexual Content: 1/10 Not much, just 1 kiss and some mentions of previous kissing.
p. 76 One kiss
Check out my reviews for other books in the series!