Newest Ranger’s Apprentice Book Goes Religious-Political?

24 11 2008

We ordered Book 8 of John Flanagan’s series from a bookshop in Sydney, Australia. It cost more to ship than the price of the book, so the total was about $37 but it’s worth it to Young Son. His dad and I read and enjoy the series, too, which adds to HIS enjoyment.

We’re just grateful they aren’t embargoed worldwide like the Harry Potter books were. Here in the US, publishers are only up to Book 5, and according to their projected schedule we’d have to wait years — until he starts community college classes!? — if we weren’t um, taking the initiative through the Internet, to participate in the global economy.

If you go to the links above, you can see a fascinating difference in the book covers, from culture to culture. I think I like the British covers best, with one tiny human figure in stark shadow on a distant ridge, with the full-color, elegant arrows of his trade dominating every foreground. (Shoutout to COD: tell Breck there’s plenty of swordplay too, not just archery. Shoutout to NotJC: tell Simon to read these books and then write his own!)

Holland and Sweden use the same look. These covers promise stories made of mystery, medieval mood, the times and tools of transporting adventure in a whole world to explore, rather than a small-set soap opera of larger than life fee-ee-lings to explore.

Which I’ll bet appeals more to boys (in any culture) than the tender, fine-featured, floppy-haired boy and girl characters filling the frame on every Australian cover? Relationships, ugh! 😉

The American covers actually are of the young good-guy characters too, but you wouldn’t know that if you hadn’t already read the books. They don’t look like friendly young folks at a medieval faire; no, they are ambiguous, faces hidden, costumed to be mysterious; is this villain or hero? Buy the book and find out!

I started reading Book 8 over the weekend after Young Son finished about 4 a.m. Saturday with great satisfaction. Now I’m twelve chapters in, and darned if the main plot this time isn’t about religion as a scam! The Rangers uncover a growing threat from the Outsiders, who are taking over remote villages one by one with their “evangelism” for a set of sacrificial beliefs they purport will save the villages from harm. Can’t wait to see where this goes.

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17 responses

24 11 2008
JJ

Here’s a more positive American influence:

I’m occasionally asked if I borrowed the term Ranger from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. In fact, I was influenced by the US Army’s World War II Rangers – the equivalent of the British Army’s commandos – and by the legendary Texas Rangers , a group of lawmen who originated the formula “One riot, one Ranger.” It’s a concept that seems to sum up the qualities and abilities of the Araluan Rangers.

24 11 2008
Not June Cleaver

Gee, I wish I had checked Bloglines earlier. We just got home from the library (Simon has a Scratch programming club he attends each week. Have you seen Scratch ?(http://scratch.mit.edu)). The library has books 1 through 5, and 6 is on order. Thanks for the tip.

24 11 2008
JJ

Oh, good! I hope they speak to you all. Maybe you could get Simon — with Theodore, or even Dad or Grandpa taking turns? — to read them aloud after dinner and do the voices. For three active brothers finding their way in the world the way the Ranger characters do, power of story they can share!

24 11 2008
JJ

Not that they are just for boys —

24 11 2008
JJ

Young Son discovered a few weeks ago that his Irish step-dancing studio owner’s 13-year-old daughter loves these books too. It figures, I guess, because they take place in a world that’s British-Celtic with Vikings thrown in from the north. Book 8 is set in “Hibernia” which Young Son informs me is meant to represent Ireland.

I asked him how he knew that, and he said he’d been studying the author’s notes. 🙂

25 11 2008
Not June Cleaver

“he said he’d been studying the author’s notes.”

WOW! I’m impressed.

As for the dad and granddad reading? It’s a great idea in theory — won’t happen in practice. Apparently the dyslexia that Simon has came down that line. LOL! I love the idea of reading the different voices. We’ll have to improvise.

26 11 2008
lori

Oooh, this series sounds good! Adding Book 1 to the x-mas list for the kids!

26 11 2008
JJ

Promise not to tell the kids, and I’ll tell you parents that these are marvelous stories about learning without schooling! And learning to use your own special talents and aptitudes, which will be completely different than your friends and relatives. Whether “bad” or good” each character has both strengths and weaknesses and the decision-making and problem-solving is complex and meaningful, not cardboard cut-out test score kinds of problems. Everything matters and in multiple ways. Even the music! (which I also love.)

Authentic learning one-on-one in real worlds from adult mentors with everything on the line, caring and needing the next generation to join in the important work of society and bring all their best to it. For the world to survive much less thrive. Very responsible messages for the future of this real world we share imo.

Not heavy-handed about it at all but I notice, and so find these books extremely satisfying.

26 11 2008
JJ

Oh, and in these tough economic times, it’s also a good theme for the kids that ambition for status and wealth, working hard to “get ahead” turns out to be less rewarding than finding and dedicating yourself wholeheartedly to a larger purpose for humankind (in this world, not the next.)

1 12 2008
JJ

I finished Book 8. Good stuff. The religious charlatans are sorry they ever met the Rangers. 🙂

We impatiently await Book 9 now, set to appear next November in Australia.

12 12 2008
sandy feet

My oldest devours this series, and he is rather picky. I have not read them, but now I will.

27 02 2009
Making Another Book Meme My Own « Cocking A Snook!

[…] So I could’ve meddled further, kept in and put in more of my own favorites, taken out titles on the real list that trip my gag reflex, like Clan of the Cave Bear [shudder] and certainly added the Ranger’s Apprentice series. […]

30 06 2009
Beta

Thanks for the recommendation! This sounds like a great read for the whole family. Also checking out the “deschooling a school-minded dad” post — that’s advice I need as well

30 06 2009
JJ

So glad you’re here, Beta. A blog you also might get a lot from, is Colleen’s as The New Unschooler. Start back with her earliest posts, read all comments and you can see how her education thoughts and feelings um, evolved. . . 😉

22 01 2010
Art Norris

I’ve read the first couple of books in the series and I’m planning to get my eleven-year-old son started on them soon. We’ll use the novels as an entry into outdoor education – wilderness travel, backpacking, survival, primitve skills, exploring the flora and fauna in the mountains near home, archery – and medieval history. Google Richard Rutherford-Moore, a British historian and writer, who has done a lot of work on the actual Rangers, or Foresters, of England in the 12th and 13th centuries. Take a look at http://www.sthubertsrangers.org/blacke_dickon.htm and have some fun following the links. There is a lot of potential for an integrated education strategy using The Ranger’s Apprentice novels as a starting point.

22 01 2010
JJ

Hi Art — just remember that the most meaningful “integrated education” for the learner, is lived actively and then described retroactively! You can’t know in advance whether wilderness skills — or hot coffee, lute-playing and creeping about in shadows — will be his lifelong takeway. 🙂

Let the learning integrate itself and then marvel at all the connections and power of story your son discovers.

We got no outdoor education whatsoever from it. But he did try archery at a 4-H event for homeschoolers (it was disorganized and hapless, sticky hot and buggy out in a field with endless standing around and almost no activity nor anyone either of us wanted to spend time with of any age.) The good thing was that we were able to separate the starry-eyed idea of medieval fantasy archery and what it meant in reality today in our current circumstance.

OTOH there is swordplay in the stories too, remember? So fencing was the other thing he really wanted to learn and just last month, a fencing salle opened here in a depressed shopping mall space. The owner-coach is an out-of-work physicist from the local university who figured he would follow HIS heart and see if he could make a go of it. So far Young Son is getting one-on-one mentoring very much like Halt and Will, and he is loving it! Me too (Of course it doesn’t hurt that it’s indoors, in the air-conditioned comfort, right near the Tropical Smoothie storefront . . .)
😉

22 01 2010
JJ

Btw, alert readers will notice this is an older thread with new comments showing up after a long gap. So here in January 2010, let me report that Book 9, Halt’s Peril, came out last November to conclude the thrilling religious-political storyline. Again we had ordered it direct from Abbey’s bookshop in Sydney and again raced through it one after the other, passing it breathlessly between us like Harry Potter release weekend. Good times!

Have you heard about the upcoming movie?

Young Son keeps up with the official Ranger’s Apprentice website and a couple of weeks ago, mentioned that Book Seven was on some top ten bestseller list here.

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