THE SORCERER OF THE NORTH by John Flanagan
My wife and fifteen year old love John Flanagan’s The Ranger’s Apprentice series. We’ve been listening to the audiobooks for a few years now, always when we’re on long trips so we can get a whole book in. This Thanksgiving we got away for a few days, and we listened to The Sorcerer of the North, the fifth book in the series of ten. Our trip was shorter than normal this time, though, but we ended up listening to the book during the quiet hours of our stay at a rental cabin.
In this book, young Will is a man hand has his own territory to cover as a Ranger. He’s pretty much a law unto himself, a spy and a force for the king. It was odd seeing Will in action as a man instead of a teen, although he isn’t a very old man, barely into his twenties. I missed seeing him a Halt’s side, or trying to figure out how to play the odds against the adults. But it was also nice to see him pretty much full grown and doing what he was trained to do.
The plot is complicated in this book, and it took a little while for all the pieces to come together, but Flanagan is a gifted author when it comes to plots. Will is tasked with finding out what sickness has stricken down Lord Syron and who is truly loyal to him, and maybe sorting out who the eventual inheritor of the lands should be.
I liked the plotting and the characters, the hiding and the spycraft that goes on throughout. Alyss, Will’s friend who is also a spy, joins the mission and things really heat up on all fronts because during the action Will and Alyss discover that they’re drawn to each other in ways they hadn’t expected.
Flanagan’s sense of the world is awesome in this one. As Will traipses around the castle, the castlegrounds, and the forest outside the walls, the environment comes to life on every page. Flanagan has a vivid imagination and shares if quite elegantly with his readers.
I also enjoy the author’s subtlety, the way he leads you down a path and you start expecting events to take a certain turn, then he twists everything around so that you don’t know quite what is going on or who to trust. Flanagan is at his best in this one.
The only thing that will put some readers off, especially the new ones, is how the book ends with so many things left hanging. I howled when we got to the end, not prepared to let go. My son patiently reminded me that every book Flanagan does is more or less two parts. And that’s true. Books five and six basically form one large story, as did the first pair of books and the second pair. However, the other two were not truncated quite so suddenly as events come to a halt in this one.
I’ve got the sixth book in the series. I’m just waiting on another family trip!