The Sorcerer of the North (Ranger’s Apprentice #5)

by John Flanagan

Conditional Recommendation: Now a fully fledged ranger, Will is assigned to his own territory but it’s not long before he’s sent on a mission to unravel the mystery of the sorcerer of the north.

Age: Young Adult
Series: Ranger’s Apprentice, Book Five
Pages: 304
Published: 2008
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

In this fifth installment in the series the story of the ranger’s apprentice and his friends continues, but be prepared—this book takes place years after the fourth book and Will is no longer just an apprentice. The time jump confused me for a while so knowing that before starting the book will make the reading much more enjoyable! If you’ve liked the previous Ranger’s Apprentice books then this story with an older version of Will and Alyss will not disappoint!

Summary from the Publisher
Time has passed since the apprentice and his master, Will and Halt, led the Araluens to victory against invaders, and Will is now a full-fledged Ranger with his own fief to look after. The fief seems sleepy—boring, even—until the Skandians show up and Will has to deal with the threat. Shortly thereafter, Will goes on a secret mission. Joined by his friend Alyss, Will is thrown headfirst into an extraordinary adventure propelled by fears of sorcery, and must determine who is trustworthy to the king and who is trying to take his throne.

Will and Alyss must battle growing hysteria, traitors, and most of all, time. The king is fading, but when Alyss is taken hostage, Will is forced to make a desperate choice between loyalty to his mission and loyalty to his friend.

Memorable Characters
Will has grown into a young man and a very capable ranger. In this book, readers get to see Will come out from under his mentor and become a ranger in his own right. He’s assigned to his own territory at a quiet fief and it’s like a college graduate stepping into their first career job and discovering how to stand on their own two feet. Readers will also get to see a friendly, open, public version of Will as opposed to the more contained version that’s prominent most of the time, as is necessary being a ranger. All of this is a really fun change.

Alyss occupies the key friend role in this book—as opposed to Gillan or Horace is the previous books—and it’s delightful to see Will and Alyss working together. Alyss is dignified, capable, and clever. I really enjoyed seeing more of her character and her effect on Will in the story.

The reader will still get to see a little bit of Halt, Crowley, and Horace but not much.

Well-Conceived Plot
There are a lot of turns in this plot! The first part of the book makes you think the entire story is going to take place at Will’s new fief with him settling into his assignment. Then, quite suddenly, the story turns and there are mysteries, disguises, and secret identities—all is not what it seems as the plot of this book unfolds. There hasn’t been a story quite like this in the series so far. Readers will enjoy the turn of events and the new roles Will has to play to do his job as a ranger. The mystery is entertaining but I found the suspenseful elements—things like the true identity being revealed or just barely escaping from the enemy—to be really enjoyable and what kept me hooked.

Recommendation Note
As with the other Ranger’s Apprentice books, this one contains some violence but since Will isn’t in the middle of a battle or a war there’s less violence than the other books. There’s no magic but the enemy does hypnotism on Alyss in order to extract information.

A Suspenseful Ending
This book ends in a suspenseful rush and with a total cliff hanger. I was caught by surprise when it ended! I recommend having the next book close at hand before finishing this one because The Sorcerer of the North and The Siege of Macindaw function as parts one and two of the same story.

*Audiobooks read by John Keating are excellent and I highly recommend them for this series!

Books I Recommend in the Series
The Siege of Macindaw (#6)
Erak’s Ransom (#7)

The Kings of Clonmel (#8)

Where to Find this Book: Amazon* or your local library!
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