Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer


My family and I are thoroughly enjoying John Flanagan’s The Ranger’s Apprentice series. We listen to them during long road trips, and currently we have the next two reserved at the public library to listen to over Christmas break.

As a writer, I can’t help but fault Flanagan a little for his lack of point of view continuity. He jumps from one person’s head to another’s whenever he wants to. But he does it so effortlessly and never veers from the storyline that it’s an almost seamless progression. My wife and son have never noticed, but it’s the craftsman in me that wants to reach for the red pencil.

The driving narrative and the sheer likeability of the characters plunges the story on, though, and it’s easy for me to shelve the perfectionist and just enjoy the romp. Bernard Cornwell does the same thing, and I love his books as well.

In this novel, Flanagan tests and embellishes the relationships between his various characters. The old Ranger Halt and his paternal feelings toward Will definitely take center stage as they’re split up by circumstance and responsibility. Archvillain Morgarath has come up with a cunning plan to ambush Celtica and it’s up to our heroes to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

The relationship between Horace and Will gets explored further too. For two boys that started out as enemies, they’ve grown quite close. Getting to see them work through their differences and earn each other’s respect has been a treat.

Gilan, Halt’s earlier apprentice, is the older brother Will should have had, and I like how they all get on as they undertake their missions. Halt, separated from Will for much of the book, gets irritable and mean, and I loved how he showed his displeasure. My favorite line in the book was, “Do you think this castle has a moat?” When you read the book, you’ll get it, and you’ll ask yourself why these books are not being made into movies.

The beginning is a little slow, but Flanagan keeps things moving. He doesn’t go out of his way to shine a light on every nook and cranny of his created world, but there’s enough there to allow a reader to flesh out everything that’s needed. He does a really good job with the action and war maneuvers, and with the actions of men in battle.

This book also broadens the baseline for further adventures when the Skandian (think Viking) raiders and mercenaries are introduced. Unfortunately, the novel also ends on a cliffhanger that make readers crazy, so you might want to pick up the third novel as well.


5 Responses to “THE BURNING BRIDGE by John Flanagan”

  1. I think that Flanagan’s ability to jump from one character’s mind to another so effortlessly is far from any kind of flaw. I think it is exactly what makes his books so wonderful. And Will and Horace were never enemies, they were childhood friends who grew apart due to Horace’s insecurities. I absolutely love this series, and can’t wait to read The Brother Band Chronicles as well. The only thig I didn’t like was that in book 8 Halt and Will became more chatty and petty acting, but he managed to pull book 9 back to the more honorable feeling of the previous 7 books.

  2. I want to thank John Flanagan. My son is 13 years old. We read together every night through the school week. I with my book, him with his own book. Which usually consisted of comic books, Garfield or some sort of cartoon people with bubbles of speak above their heads.
    I went to Chapters book store and browsed through the books desperately looking for something that he would put his nose in. I found The Rangers Apprentice Series. Well needless to say he is on book 9 now!! He loves them. I read a book as well to get the feel of what he is reading. Very impressed.
    Thank you John Flanagan for making words come to life in his reading.

  3. I’m 14 I read this book and i loved it. Its a great book for teens in my opinion and i am one.^~^ lolz. It also gives good advise in it and it helped me learn to be a better person. I could imagine every scene. John is very descriptive in his stories. I am inspired to make my own books in a way. Just simple stories told to children can turn into marvelous adventures. Thank you John.

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