After the wonderful conclusion to book 6 in the Ranger’s Apprentice series, I found myself wondering what author John Flanagan was going to do for Erak’s Ransom, the next installment in his epic and captivating fantasy series. The Author’s Note at the beginning of the book explains to readers that this story actually takes place chronologically BEFORE the events in books 5 and 6. Flanagan explains that it covers a period in both Will and his mentor Halt’s lives that came just before Will finished his Ranger training. Like anyone who is in the last few months of schooling before a major graduation (to or from high school or even from University), Will is full of self-doubt about his ability to face the world on his own.
This seventh book not only brings back some familiar characters from previous parts of the series, it also gives readers a much wider glimpse into the incredibly rich world that Flanagan has created. Filled with desert tribesmen, peril and intrigue, this adventure also tests the limits of Will’s endurance and skill as he learns to make his own decisions and alliances. The debate would then be whether or not to have someone read the books in chronological or sequential order. While Erak’s Ransom does fill in some blanks and take place before the events that occur in books 5 & 6, I would still recommend reading them in their published order. Some of the satisfying details provided by the author in this tale are all the richer for knowing what will unfold next when the characters themselves do not.
Paperback format, 373 pages, published by Puffin Books