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Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Siege of Macindaw (Ranger's Apprentice #6) by John Flanagan

After years as a Ranger's apprentice, Will is now the protector of his first fief. Not long into his service, everything that can go wrong does: Keren, a renegade knight, has taken over Castle Macindaw, a strategic gateway to the North--poisoning the royal family in the process--and is holding Will's friend Alyss captive. The situation grows direr when Will uncovers Keren's secret alliance with the Scotti, who have plans to plunder Araluen. Time is of the essence, and Will must recruit a motley crew to rescue Alyss and reclaim Castle Macindaw--before the Scotti can make it their own. This New York Times bestselling series maintains its breathless pace in this newest installment.

Released: May 1st 2006    Pages: 293
Publisher: Philomel             Source: Library

While I've never given a Ranger's Apprentice book less than four stars (or more, for that matter), some of these have been solid four-star reads, and others teetered on the brink of three stars.  Book three (The Icebound Land) has been the low point of the series, for me, so far.  It's becoming a complex pattern, since it seemed to be going uphill with The Sorcerer in the North as my highest point so far, and now we come to The Seige of Macindaw.  I don't think this latest book was on par with Sorcerer, but it was by no means my lowest point.  All of this, within the range of a four-star rating.  Part of this might be due to the fact that I tend to go weeks--or even longer--between each subsequent book in this series.

On to this book, specifically.  This book picks right back up where its predecessor (on whose review I wrote, "Half a book alert!") left off.  This whole segment of Will's story couldn't be contained into one book, and splitting it over the space of two worked well.  It didn't rush things--it left time to develop characters and such.

I'm seeing Will grow gradually more mature, though I'd still like to see some more depth from him.  I still don't quite "get" his relationship with Alyss.  Apparently they're in love.  The problem is that there's absolutely no chemistry between them.  To cite an opposite example: in The Avengers, nobody ever actually says that Clint and Natasha are in love.  And yet, we all know it.  A few simple glances and instances of body language show us all the chemistry we need, as viewers, to buy into it.  Will and Alyss, though, don't have this.  I want to see why they're in love, not just that they are.  (Okay, fine.  I'm still shipping him with Cassandra.  Those two actually have chemistry.)

The more I read, the more Horace's characterization annoys me.  Over and over, he says something along the lines of "Don't look to me to be the thinker--I'm just the guy with the sword".  He has no confidence in his own intelligence, and everyone else pretty much goes along with it.  I know there's more to Horace than his brawn, but it's get increasingly disappointing to see him falling short of his potential, as a character.

I don't have much to say about the storyline itself.  It tied off the loose ends from Sorcerer, but left itself open enough so that readers can pick the story right back up in the next book.  In this one, more than any of the others, I noticed how simplistic the writing style is.  Well, I've noticed this before, but it seemed more prevalent in this book.  I'm not sure if this is a new thing, or if I'm just paying more attention to it.  I'll have to wait and see what happens in the next book.

Overall, this was an imperfect yet still fun adventure.  I'll be reading the next book.  *crosses fingers in the hope that it has Halt and Gilan*

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.  (In chronological age-appropriate order, starting with the book friendliest to younger kids: Rowan, Ranger's Apprentice, Eragon, A Game Of Thrones.)  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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