John Flanagan is a popular Australian fantasy author from Sydney. After starting his career in media research and copywriting, he started to write his own novels. His first manuscripts were thrillers, then he began working on the Ranger’s Apprentice series.
It began as a series of short stories John created for his son, Michael. Michael is the inspiration for the main character – a slight, agile boy who may not be big and strong but can still be a hero.
Some of the other characters are also inspired by people in John’s personal life. Michael loved the short stories so much that John decided to turn them into a novel – The Ruins Of Gorlan – which was published in 2004.
There are now 12 books in the main series, a prequel series called Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years, and a spin-off series called Brotherband. They have been incredibly popular, and not just in Australia.
Over 2 million copies have been sold across 16 different countries. The series has spent a total of 77 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. There have been discussions about turning the Ranger’s Apprentice series into a film, but nothing has been released yet.
About The Ranger’s Apprentice Book Series
The Ranger’s Apprentice is a medieval fantasy book series about Will. Will is small for his age, but he is agile and energetic and has big dreams of becoming a knight.
When the battle school turns him down he is devastated, and instead is given an apprenticeship with a mysterious ranger. This sets Will’s life in a direction he never would have imagined.
Will learns how to move with stealth, how to master a bow and arrow, and how to use secret weapons that only a ranger would know about. He is drawn into a battle between good and evil and must face challenges he never expected.
Along the way, he will learn a lot about friendship, loyalty, and bravery. The relationship between Will and his mentor, Halt, is a continuing theme throughout the books. When Will takes on his apprentice in the final book, it is a satisfying moment for readers.
It shows you how far Will has come on his journey, and he has the chance to shape a young person’s life just as Halt did with him.
The 12th book of the Ranger’s Apprentice series is also the first book in the Ranger’s Apprentice: Royal Ranger series, which follows Will’s apprentice, Maddie, on her own adventures.
The Ranger’s Apprentice Books In Order
This is the recommended reading order for the Ranger’s Apprentice series, to ensure that you get the best reading experience possible.
This is book 1 of the Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years. It introduces you to a Halt, a young ranger. The evil Morgareth is attempting to infiltrate the rangers as part of his plan to overthrow the king.
The Baron of Gorlan is conspiring with Morgareth, and Halt must find a way to stop their plan. He and fellow ranger Crowley must put themselves in danger to protect the Kingdom.
- This prequel is a great way to start the series and learn about the characters
- It doesn’t give you the best introduction to the fantasy universe of the book series
This is book 2 of the Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years. Morgareth is hiding and planning his next move. Halt has been given the difficult task of spying on the enemy, which involves a treacherous climb up the deadly cliffs of the Mountains of Rain and Night.
- This book ties up any loose ends from the first book and rounds off the story
- It is not as well-paced as the first book
15 year old Will is disappointed when he is turned down to train as a Knight. Instead, he becomes a ranger’s apprentice.
Will has always feared the rangers- shadowy figures in dark cloaks – but he soon learns about the important role they play in protecting the kingdom from evil.
- Will’s character is likable and relatable
- The pace is a little slow as there is a lot of background information to get across to the reader
When the King’s army is deceived, only Will knows that they are heading toward an ambush. He must put himself in danger to warn them, but is he ready for such a difficult challenge? And will the King’s army be able to win the battle against the evil Morgareth?
- The tension builds leading to a fantastic ending that leaves you wanting more
- The start of the book is a little slow
Will and Evanlyn have been captured by Morgareth and are being held prisoner. Meanwhile, Halt has been expelled from the rangers. He teams up with Will’s friend, Horace, to rescue Will and Evanlyn. Will they be able to get there in time to save Will from a lifetime of slavery?
- The characters you know and love are back and continue to develop
- The plot was not as strong and eventful as the previous books
Will must venture into unknown territory to rescue Evanlyn from a mysterious horseman who has taken her captive. In order to defeat this new enemy he must join forces with his old rivals – but will that be enough? And will their truce last long enough for them to finish the battle?
- The theme of friendship makes this book an enjoyable read
- A lot of the plot is spent preparing for the conclusion which makes it a little slow
Will has now completed his ranger training and is given his first mission. He must figure out what is haunting the Grimsdell forest and protect it from dark sorcery. Will is joined by his friend Alyssa who helps him on his adventure. But things get more challenging when Alyssa is taken as hostage.
- The book has a good pace and the mystery is intriguing
- There is a big jump between this book and the last book which leaves a lot of unanswered questions
When a rogue Knight poisons the royal family and captures Macindaw castle, it is up to Will and Horace to save the day. The mission is personal for Will, who must stop the knight to rescue someone he loves who is being held hostage in the castle. It is time for Will to put his training to the test.
- It is satisfying to conclude Will’s first mission as a qualified ranger
- The plot isn’t as exciting as the previous books
Will is sent on a mission with the rangers to rescue the Skandian leader from a dangerous desert tribe. The rangers struggle to adapt to the conditions – brutal sandstorms and uncomfortable heat. The rangers must keep their nerve to succeed in their mission.
- The plot is interesting and the book is well-written
Clonmel is the only kingdom that hasn’t succumbed to the religious cult that is spreading chaos and rebellion. Will, Halt, and Horace must restore order, but to do this they will need to uncover deadly secrets and battle a dangerous enemy.
- This book is well-paced with some good characters
- The plot of this book is more predictable than the previous books
When Will and Halt are ambushed by outlaws, Halt is hit with a poisoned arrow. Will is on a race against time to find Malkallam the sorcerer, the only person who can heal Halt before it is too late.
- The suspense builds gradually throughout the book which keeps you hooked
- The ending is quite easy to predict which is a bit of an anti-climax
When Horace travels to the exotic land of Nihon-Ja he is drawn into a battle he wasn’t expecting. Horace knows in his heart that he must fight, and he enlists the help of Will and their friends to restore the emperor to the throne and balance the unrest in the kingdom.
- The location and setting of this book is very exciting
- Some of the characters seem a bit stereotypical in this book
This is a collection of stories about the history of the rangers. John Flanagan put it together in response to his fan mail, to try and answer some of the questions they had about the fantasy universe.
It features much-loved characters like Halt, Will, Horace, and Alyss, and is a great addition to the Ranger’s Apprentice Series.
- It is great that the author took the time to create something the fans really wanted
- The book has a different structure and style from the others in the series
The Royal Ranger is the final installment of the Ranger’s Apprentice series and the first installment of the Royal Ranger series. When Will’s life is struck by tragedy he becomes obsessed with seeking revenge.
He is threatening to destroy everything he has worked for, including his position on the ranger corps. Halt has a solution – Will should take on his own apprentice. But Maddie is not what Will was expecting – she is rebellious and difficult.
When Will and Maddie are on a routine mission they uncover a web of crime that threatens many innocent lives. Will he be able to set aside his need for revenge long enough to save them?
- This is a great way to pass on the mantel to a different character in the same universe
- Will features less in this book than fans might have liked
Some people prefer to read the Ranger’s Apprentice series in publication order. This means that they would read the original 12 books in the series before going back to read the prequels.
However, it makes more sense to read the books chronologically, especially if you have never read them before. Start with the prequels and then move on to the main series. You can then continue to read the sequel series, Ranger’s Apprentice: Royal Ranger.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about the Ranger’s Apprentice series.
Do You Have To Read The Ranger’s Apprentice Books In Order?
The Ranger’s Apprentice books should be read in order as each story follows on from the one before it. This is the best way to keep up with the characters and all the events of the series.
Is The Brotherband Series Linked To The Ranger’s Apprentice?
John Flanagan wrote a spin-off series of books called Brotherband which features some characters from the Ranger’s Apprentice series. The stories take place in the same universe but you can read them separately as they don’t overlap.
Is Will In The Ranger’s Apprentice: Royal Ranger Series?
Will does feature in the Royal Ranger book series, but the stories focus mainly on Maddie and Will is more of a side character.