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Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Burning Bridge (Ranger's Apprentice #2) by John Flanagan

This time, the stakes are higher.

Bracing for a final clash with the evil warlord Morgarath, the Rangers rally the kingdom's allies, and Will is chosen, along with his friend Horace, as special envoys to nearby Celtica. But the simple mission soon takes an unsettling turn - the Celticans have disappeared, their town abandoned. The scheming hand of Morgarath, it seems, has been far from idle. He has found a way to bring his legions over the once impassible eastern mountains and is planning to ambush the king's army in a rout. Now with help many miles away, Will and Horace are the only ones standing in the way of the dark lord's plans.They have shown great skill and courage in their training, but how will they fare in the face of true evil?

With bigger battles and higher stakes, John Flanagan's epic adventure charges ahead with this rousing follow-up to
The Ruins of Gorlan.

Released: June 8th, 2006           Pages: 262
Publisher: Puffin Books           Source: Library

(There are Brisingr spoilers in the first paragraph, just so you know.  Nothing past Brisingr, though.  And after the first paragraph, it's spoiler-free.)

I don’t have a huge amount to say about this book that I didn’t say in my short review of The Ruins of Gorlan.  I like the characters, like Will and Horace.  Will tends to act younger than his age, and he’s quite clueless, but I like his determination and bravery.  I like Halt, too.  Probably because he’s basically Brom.  Minus the Rider-ness, cool sword, and the whole Eragon-I-Am-Your-Father thing.

For the most part, I enjoyed the plot.  I have a hard time believing a few things, though.  At the beginning, they just so happen to end up with a letter that just so happens to have Morgarath’s (the evil villain) battle plans.  Did it occur to anyone that maybe, just maybe, these plans were fake?  That maybe he saw that this might happen and planned accordingly?  Or is this just what I get for reading so much of this stuff? 

Actually, several of the plot elements didn’t seem quite realistic.  Sure, they made the book more interesting, but that seems like the only reason they were thrown in.  For example, should we really send a newbie Ranger and two apprentices on a super important mission?  Probably not. 

Other than that, I liked how the stakes in this book were higher.  The first book had a lot of training scenes, so it was good to get some more action.  We’re seeing more sides of the characters, too.  (Halt is lonely?  Aww.) 

And then there’s the ending.  You know the author has done his job when something dreadful happens to the characters at the end, and you finish the book thinking “John Flanagan, why on earth did you do this to me?  NO!!”  Because with that ending, I really, really need to get the next book.  It can’t end like this!

All in all, I enjoyed this.  I’ve got my nitpicks, sure, but it was still an enjoyable book.  I’m eager to read the next one.  Recommended for fans of high fantasy, or for someone looking for a book that’s on the line between MG and YA (because I’m still rather partial to MG—no love triangles!).  Four stars it is.        
Reviews of other Ranger's Apprentice novels:
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