Ranger’s Apprentice 1: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

Ever since he was a small boy, Will, hero of The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan (Book 1 of The Ranger's Apprentice series), has dreamed of Choosing Day and the moment he can start training as a knight. Will, along with Horace, Alyss, Jenny, and the other castle wards raised by Baron Arald’s generosity, is now 15 years old, and about to leave the familiar confines of the castle to start his career apprenticeship. The other wards have obvious talents that will translate easily into their apprenticeships: Horace, a muscular boy and natural athlete is destined for battleschool; willowy and sophisticated Alyss for the Diplomatic Service; and friendly, food-loving Jenny to Master Chubb’s kitchens. Will’s destination is harder to predict, for where will this tree-climbing, wall-scaling teen fit in?

It turns out that Will is not selected for battleschool, but rather to become the apprentice of Halt the Ranger, part of an enigmatic group of men who use camouflage, superior bow skills, and secrecy to achieve their missions on behalf of the King. Over the next few months, Will’s disappointment over battleschool changes to grudging respect for Halt and the grueling training that the Rangers undergo to become proficient in their craft. He also starts to see in the quietly competent Halt the father figure that he has been without for his childhood.

Will’s training comes at a precipitous time, for there is trouble brewing in the kingdom. Fifteen years ago, the evil Morgarath, former Baron of Gorlan, rebelled against the newly crowned King Duncan. Morgarath trained an army of Wargals, “stocky misshapen beings with features that were halfway human,” to terrorize the land, taking a quarter of the kingdom in a few days. It was only due to the Rangers’ intervention that Morgarath was defeated and exiled. In the bleak landscape of the Mountains of Rain and Night, he has been plotting the kingdom’s destruction. And he has a new plan that will require all of the Rangers' efforts to defeat.

There are now nine books in this series, which tracks Will through several adventures as he matures and graduates from his apprenticeship. This book will appeal to fans of Eragon, and The Last Apprentice series.