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Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Battle for Skandia (Ranger's Apprentice #4) by John Flanagan

Still far from their homeland after escaping slavery in the icebound land of Skandia, Will and Evanlyn's plans to return to Araluen are spoiled when Evanlyn is taken captive by a Temujai warrior. Though still weakened by the warmweed's toxic effects, Will employs his Ranger training to locate his friend, but an enemy scouting party has him fatally outnumbered. Will is certain death is close at hand, until Halt and Horace make a daring, last-minute rescue. The reunion is cut short, however, when Halt makes a horrifying discovery: Skandia's borders have been breached by the entire Temujai army. And Araluen is next in their sights. If two kingdoms are to be saved, an unlikely union must be made. Will it hold long enough to vanquish a ruthless new enemy? Or will past tensions spell doom for all? The battles and drama are nonstop in Book Four of this hugely popular epic.
Released: March 18th 2008          Pages: 272
Publisher: Philomel                     Source: Library

For starters: the American cover.  Bleh.  I don't like it.  I get it that Erak is a big part of this book, but let's face it...he's not very attractive.  Plus, there's something weird about the picture that just seems off.  I can't put my finger on what, but it just looks wrong.  The UK cover (to the right) is much more pleasant to look at.  And it has a cooler title.

Now to the actual content of the book.  So far, there's nothing about this series that I love, nothing that jumps out at me as super awesome or fantastic.  That being said, I did enjoy reading this, as with the other books in the series. 

Will is likable, but he's also an idiot sometimes.  Exhibit A: Evanlyn is having Eowyn-esque angst over the fact that she can't fight because she's a girl.  She asks Will to give her some archery lessons.  Will says no.  Um...what?  Will, do you not know a golden opportunity when it's staring you in the face?  Think about it.  If a pretty girl--a princess, no less--asks you for archery lessons, you say yes.  Especially if you have a crush on her (oh, don't deny it, he totally does).  Especially if you're worried Horace might also be interested in her.  Archery lessons would have given Will plenty of excuses to spend lots of time with her, and if he wanted to, he could pull some sort of sneaky, cheesy trick of putting his arms around her "to show her how to hold the bow".  And anyway, girls can fight, too!

Speaking of Horace...I wish he had more depth.  He's always so content to let will do the thinking.  I wish he could be less of a mindless fighter and have more personality.  However, I do like the aspect of his moral code, and the kind of person that makes him.

And then, Halt.  I love Halt.  Probably because he reminds me of Brom.  I think I've already said that in my other reviews, but it's true.  My mental picture of Halt is just a picture of Brom, but shorter.

You know who never made an appearance in this book? Gilan. This disappointed me a little--I hope he comes back into the story soon!

Overall, I like how this series is progressing.  I hope that pattern will continue throughout the series.  I'll be reading the sequels, for sure.  This would be a great book for someone who is into high fantasy but not ready for something like Game of Thrones, or even Eragon.  Recommended!

Similar Books: It's for an older audience than Rowan of Rin, but a younger audience than Eragon or A Game of Thrones, though they all share many common elements.  It's much less complex and intense than the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  It also reminds me a little of the Darkest Age trilogy.
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