PSA: We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to inform you that Carrie Mouse and the Giant Garage is on its way to availability on Amazon and Etsy, and a blog tour is in the works. Thank you.
Now back to Ranger's Apprentice.
When my youngest sister hadn't yet read Bridge to Terebithia, my middle sister, Rebekah, and I made up all kinds of crazy things to keep from giving her spoilers—which included the now infamous Burke the Kangaroo. I think Burke was pink or blue or something. But anyway, as I read Ranger's Apprentice, my mom and sisters kept telling me things like "Halt has an evil twin," and "Halt dies," and I could never be sure what was real and what was simply Burke. I have lived to regret the day of Burke the Kangaroo.
Oh goodness, what can I even say about this one without giving major spoilers? There's a cult in neighboring Clonmel, one serving "the golden god," where this supposed god demands all your gold in exchange for "protection" from fabricated attacks. Halt is investigating some of this, and so misses the Gathering. The Gathering where Will is helping some of the apprentices with a tactical exercise which sounds suspiciously like Will's siege, only missing Skandians and a "reformed sorcerer." But also, he isn't there because he doesn't want to influence Will's decision on the opportunity to move back to Redmont. Which he obviously takes and Alyss would have dragged him back there if he said no, so anyway.
Halt really does have an evil twin! Like, what even? Ferris, king of Clonmel, is Halt's brother who tried to kill him for the throne, like three times. Clonmel is part of Hibernia, where Halt is from, so Halt is familiar with the country. And with the cult. This cult, the Outsiders, is doing considerable harm to Clonmel. And King Ferris is doing nothing about it. So Halt, Will, and Horace set out to do something themselves. And oh, goodness, when you get those three together it's just about the best thing ever. I laughed out loud so many times reading this book.
I love all the Halt backstory, I love Will being a jongleur again, I love the coffee obsession, I love the impersonation that takes place...I can't say I love the trial by combat because Horace was drugged and he could have died, but I love this book so much!
This is the book where they have Halt's funeral. No really. They have his funeral.
And it's up to you to decide if you think that's Burke the Kangaroo or not. Or you could just read the book. Don't start with this one, though. You'll be lost.
This. Book. Halt, Will, and Horace are still chasing after Tennyson, leader of the Outsiders. There's some good humor and it's great and then HALT GETS SHOT WITH A POISONED ARROW AND HE'S DYING AND IT'S JUST ABOUT THE WORST THING EVER. Things couldn't be worse. They need Malcolm, and they don't really have the time to get him, so they have to Scorpion Halt (I'm making that a thing...if you watched Scorpion and then read this book, you should know what I mean), and oh my goodness. I knew what they were going to have to do to get the information they needed, but still. Just wow. And they STILL have to take care of the Outsiders. It's quite intense.
But I have to say, I LOVE Horace getting to wear a Ranger cloak. "Can you see me now?" It's the best. XD
If you don't want to know whether Halt actually dies in this book, read no further.
Every time I'd glance quickly at this cover, I'd think there was a Dalek on it. Is that weird?
So this one wasn't my favorite of the series because it wasn't quite as funny as previous books (and also I read about half of it half asleep so I think I missed a few things), but I still really liked it. It still does have funny parts, though, like "Halt? Are you awake?" and then just as Will drifts off to sleep: "Will? Are you asleep?"
Horace has been hanging out in the country of Nihon-Ja with Emperor Shigeru, learning about their military strategy and fighting style. Emperor Shigeru is rather fond of Horace (Or'ss-san, as the Nihon-Jan call him...or Kurokuma, a term of great respect XD). George, his former wardmate, is actually there too, so he gets a bigger part than he has in a long time. But things happen in Nihon-Ja—something like attempted usurpation—and Horace decides to stay to help, effectively disappearing. Luckily George is able to get word to their friends.
Will, Halt, and Alyss are in Toscana helping the Toscans and the Arridi (including Selethen of Erak's Ransom) negotiate a treaty. And then Evanlyn comes to ask them to assist her in helping Horace in Nihon-Ja. Which of course they agree to do. Selethen wants to come, and Gundar Hardstriker is the one to take them to Nihon-Ja in his wolfship. And so they set out, the girls squabbling all the way. And of course Will is totally perplexed as to why their enmity has to do with him. He's so dense when it comes to girls. There's a lot of strategy and fighting and the girls have to go on a mission together. That certainly gets interesting. Gotta love it.
Oh, their nicknames. Why Horace is called Kurokuma. What Will's nickname, Chocho means. And then there are proposals. :D Horace is getting married. And Will makes a half proposal. XD
This is a collection of short stories. There are some really good stories in here. There's one about Will's father: how he met Halt, how he died, how Halt acquired Will. There's also one about how Halt and Crowley met that explains about Halt's training, which is pretty awesome. It also deals with the havoc Morgarath wreaked on Araluen and the Ranger Corp...sets up for the Early Years books. :)
There's one about what Gilan did while Halt and Horace were off to rescue Will and Evanlyn. That one was good. So was Jenny's ruined dinner date. I hope I never have a date like that one. I'd kind of like not to have my life threatened. XD
I enjoyed The Roamers, where Will's dog gets stolen by gypsies and Will and Alyss go to find her. The Wolf was sad. It's about what happens when Ranger horses when they get too old for work. It made me so sad. Not that they do anything bad to the horses, but it's still really sad.
My three favorites, though, are Purple Prose, The Bridal Dance, and And About Time, Too... Purple Prose is pretty awesome. Will and Halt have to deal with some bad guys who are crashing ships to plunder, but that's not what it's really about. It's about Will writing the best man's speech for Horace's wedding...in the best purple prose he can muster. It's great. The Bridal Dance is about Horace and Evanlyn's wedding, and of course there's a threat. It's a legitimate threat, but the wedding must go on. Will almost missed the bridal dance by dealing with the threat, and earned a warning from his girlfriend Alyss: "You'd better be there at ours." Which is in And About Time, Too... Despite being very short, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED that one. It was beautiful, and I echo Halt: "And about time, too." It made me so happy, but bittersweet because I knew Alyss was going to die before the next book.
All in all, I loved The Lost Stories. It's great.