Ranger’s Apprentice Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan
By: John Flanagan
Narrated by: John Keating

This is one of a very few books that proved good enough to listen to at home.

Shannon, wonder-librarian at CPL, presented this as her “what I’m reading now” during a monthly Children’s staff meeting. Her presentation left us hanging on the edge of wondering what would come next and it was duly remembered when I needed something for a drive.

Flanagan presents the tale of an unknown orphan, Will, raised at the largess of the local Baron. Now fifteen, he and other orphans are to be apprenticed and he desperately wishes to become a warrior. Rejected on “Choosing Day” for his small size, he faces a lifetime of unadventurous drudgery in the fields until the local Ranger, a secretive man about whom little is known, hands the Baron a note. The Baron says he will consider what is written but leaves it at that. Will must break into the Baron’s office to discover the contents of that note–but when he does, the Ranger is waiting. And what is on that piece of paper?

Flanagan’s tale is well written and engaging. Not only does he include Will’s story, he also presents a sub-story focusing on one of the other orphans who is selected for battle school–and the trials that young man undergoes. One empathizes with both young men, pleased to see them coming into their own in their own ways–very different paths that must intersect.

Keating provides a phenomenal reading. Adding a slight accent to the tale, various voices are easily recognized and draw the listener further into the story. Though I didn’t feel utterly compelled to listen to one CD right after the other, I truly wanted to finish this book and looked forward to hearing it over several evenings.

While written for boys and a book I highly recommend for boys, it’s is also accessible for girls. I strongly recommend the audio version.