Book Reviews

Book Review: The Tournament at Gorlan by John Flanagan

The Tournament at Gorlan by John Flanagan
The Tournament at Gorlan by John Flanagan (Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years, book 1) | Publisher: Philomel Books

Genre: Children’s Fiction (Older and up), Fantasy
Series: Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years, book 1
Rating: 5/5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

My Summary:
Things in Araluen are not as peaceful as they seem. The Ranger’s Corps, the primer fighting force in the King’s name, has been systematically destabilized, replacing Rangers with highly unskilled upstarts. And around the land, rumors are spreading that the prince, Duncan, has been raiding, pillaging, and disrupting the fragile peace Araluen has with its neighbor to the north, Picta. Not to mention, the king has taken up refuge in Castle Gorlan, after a supposed assassination attempt on his life by his own son.

All of this, Halt and Crowley believe to be the work of the sinister, cold, and calculating Morgarath, who seeks to seize the throne by discrediting Duncan’s reputation, eliminating the threat of the Ranger’s Corps, gaining popularity with the other barons, and persuading the king to name himself as heir.

In order to stop Morgarath, Halt and Crowley will have to seek out Duncan and other rangers who have been unceremoniously rejected from their positions. They will have to figure out a way to restore the Ranger’s Corps and stop the usurper before it’s too late.


My Review:
The Tournament at Gorlan, as the series title suggests, takes place before the events of The Ruin of Gorlan (Ranger’s Apprentice, book 1) and The Burning Bridge (Ranger’s Apprentice, book 2). This new book focuses on a young Halt and Crowley as they try to prevent Morgarath, the lord of Gorlan, from acquiring the throne.

It was interesting to learn more about Morgarath and what marked him as an antagonist in the first two books of the Ranger’s Apprentice series. Although his character follows the classic theme of a power-hungry lord seeking to steal a throne, how he goes about it is was worth reading about. John Flanagan does a great job at developing a plot for Morgarath that deviates well away from norm.

A light-hearted and funny read, Flanagan does well at eliciting an emotional response from the reader by infusing the right amount of comic relief and tension between characters. He brings his characters to life so well, making them real, concrete, distinct and loveable. Each character presented brings something important to the plot’s progression.

This is a novel I appreciate. I was very happy and excited to revisit more of the world of the Ranger’s Apprentice, especially reading more about old characters, such as Halt and Crowley, and new characters. The book was a quick but satisfying read, one that I found hard to put down. Fans of the Ranger’s Apprentice series are sure to enjoy this thrilling tale.

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