Sunday, May 21, 2017

REVIEW : The Siege of Macindaw by John Flanagan

Published by Random House
Released on May 1, 2007 (in Australia) and August 4, 2009 (in the United States)

WARNING: inevitable spoilers from previous books in the series!

In The Sorcerer of the North, Will was sent to a mysterious fief called Norgate to investigate sorcery-related superstitions.  Disguised as a musician, he learned that the "sorcerer" is actually a healer named Malcolm, that annoying Orman is the good guy, and that friendly Sir Keren is the bad guy.  Now Alyss is Keren's prisoner in one of Castle Macindaw's towers, and a Scotti invasion looms on the horizon.  Will, safe in the woods with Malcolm, must come up with a plan to save his friend and all of Araluen.

Ingredients ~~ they seem random... but they're not 

a beautiful blue rock, Blackie the dog, an upside-down cart, and a floating head

Characters ~~ Will and I go way back

I love how John Flanagan makes each one of his characters so different.  Halt didn't make much of a show in this book, but I was okay with that because as long as Horace and Will are around, I'm happy.  You see, Halt's sarcasm is unique.  I've never, ever seen sarcasm like his.  It's wonderful.

Will, our main character, has become soooo much better as he's gotten older.  I mean, I liked him from the start, but he was a small, little boy (yes, I'm aware that's redundant) who could climb the side of a castle.  That's all.  Now he wears a green cloak, handles a bow with amazing skill, and has developed an adorable sense of humor.  Also, he's a young man - no longer a boy.  This means his level of maturity has shot up, too.  And I can't forget to mention his level of intelligence!  When Will Treaty starts pacing, you know a brilliant idea is right about to come together in his mind.

Horace is extremely well-balanced between a soft, gentle guy and a hardened, dangerous warrior.  Out of all the books I've read, he is the one with the least subtle contradictory traits.  Just the same, Flanagan handles it smoothly.  

Setting ~~ let me go saddle my Ranger horse

Flanagan also developed a well-thought-out world for his Ranger's Apprentice series.  All the fiefdoms, along with Viking-esque Skandia and the mysterious Ranger Corps, make an interesting setting for Will, his friends, and all their adventures.  As a fantasy writer myself, I look at my own world and cringe a little.  Maybe I should work on making it more complex. But so far in this series, I feel like I really know the place - like if I actually went there, I'd feel almost at home.  The author takes us across the sea to Skandia, up to Norgate Fief, down to the king's palace.  Let me go saddle my Ranger horse and we can go somewhere else! That's what I hope for in the next book, Erak's Ransom.

Plot ~~ slipping... off... the seat... help...

There were times when I begged Will, Hurry up and save Alyss already!  But that was probably the author's intent, now that I think about it - to get me anxious for her rescue and then make me slip ever closer to the edge of my seat by tossing obstacle after obstacle, distraction after distraction, in poor Will's way.  Why do writers have to be so... mean?  *inner writer smiles wickedly at inner reader*  The point when I finally fell off the seat (figuratively speaking) was at the actual siege of Macindaw, the climax of the book. So much was happening that if I'd let all my anticipation run through my teeth and into my nails, I wouldn't have nails anymore.  At all.

And when Alyss did that thing and Will did that other thing!!  Oh.  My.  Gosh.

Recommended ~~ go read it now.  Right now.

I would recommend the Ranger's Apprentice series to anyone who enjoys...

1) medieval-ish fantasy worlds
2) creepy-ish forests that characters are superstitious about
3) castle fights

Quote ~~ Will and Horace, you lovely people

"If they had come past, I would have woken you - if only to stop your snoring."
"I don't snore," Horace said, with dignity.
Will raised his eyebrows.  "Is that so?" he said.  "Then in that case, you'd better chase out that colony of walruses who are in the tent with you."  

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