THE ROYAL RANGER: ARAZAN’S WOLVES (Ranger’s Apprentice: The Royal Ranger), by John Flanagan, Viking Books for Young Readers, Sept. 5, 2023, Hardcover, $18.99 (ages 10 and up)
Maddie and Will travel to Celtica to investigate mysterious attacks in the sixth Royal Ranger book by John Flanagan, Arazan’s Wolves.
When Maddie and Will get a message that dire wolves — huge misshapen changelings, much larger than regular wolves — have been marauding and attacking through the hills and valleys of Celtica, the Rangers are sent on a mission to unravel just who or what is behind these dangerous creatures.
Will isn’t anxious to return to Celtica, especially approaching the Rift. And as they travel, Maddie must grapple with their growing dealings with the spiritual and supernatural. But they are Rangers — and they will do whatever it takes to accomplish their mission. After they receive some offers of help from locals, Will and Maddie learn the name of the sorceress behind these strange and dangerous attacks, Arazan, along with the location of her hideout.
On the way to take her down once and for all, the Rangers must face dire wolves, wargals, dark magic, and more. And as Arazan’s desires lead her to the most evil of powers, Will and Maddie must form a plan of action that can outwit not just the sorceress but the darkest forces from the beyond. —Synopsis provided by Viking Books for Young Readers
If you haven’t already heard of John Flanagan’s Ranger’s books, here’s a quick run down: The Royal Ranger series is a spinoff from Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series, which follows skilled trackers, archers and warriors in the service of the King of Araluen. The original apprentice is Will, an orphan who is mentored by Halt. Will is also joined by his best friend, Horace.
The Royal Ranger series introduces readers to a new apprentice; one with a royal background. This time around Will is the mentor and Princess Madelyn (Maddie) is the apprentice. The books in the series are A New Beginning, The Red Fox Clan, Duel at Araluen, The Missing Prince, Escape from Falaise, and Arazan’s Wolves.
The Royal Ranger is a series, and it should be approached as such. Maddie grows so much through the story arc, and readers will be lost without some prior information. The six books can, however, be read separately from the Ranger’s Apprentice series, but they’re all so good, I recommend reading them, too.
In Arazan’s Wolves Maddie is still an apprentice, but her learning curve has slowed down quite a bit. She’s more of Will’s equal and is expected to know how things are done. Because of this, there’s more nuance to Maddie’s growth. This is both good and bad. Maddie’s inexperience no longer gets in the way, but that inexperience is also what makes the first books in the series so fun to read.
That doesn’t mean Arazan’s Wolves isn’t an enjoyable read — rather, Flanagan relies more on the mystery and action to move the story forward instead of the characters. And this time around, he includes some more fantastical elements. Flanagan’s writing remains easy and familiar with a cinematic flair. Arazan’s Wolves is a good addition to the series, which still has room to grow.
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