Monday, 23 January 2012

Review: The Icebound Land by John Flanagan (Ranger's Apprentice #3)

Publisher - Corgi Yearling
Publication Date - 7th February 2008
Paperback - 320 pages
Genre - YA Fantasy

Source - Received from publisher for review

Rating - 3 out of 5: I liked it.

Book Info - Will and Evanlyn are bound for Skandia as the captives of the fearsome Skandian wolfship captain, Erak. Halt has sworn to rescue Will, and he will do anything to keep his promise - even defy his King. Expelled from the Rangers, Halt is joined by Horace as he travels through Gallica towards Skandia. On their way they are constantly challenged by freelance knights - otherwise known as thieving thugs. Horace knows a thing or two about combat, though, and he soon begins to attract the attention of knights and warlords for miles around with his uncanny skill. But will they be in time to rescue Will from a life of slavery?

My Thoughts - The first thing I would like to say about this book is that it states on the back that these stories do not need to be read in order as each book is a separate adventure. However, I do not agree with this. There is a strong plot arc throughout this series that I think would make it difficult to read them out of order. The Icebound Land carries on directly from book two with little explanation of past events. I think I would have found it difficult to really understand what was going on if I hadn't already read the first two books in the series and I recommend that they be read in order.

Anyway, now onto the review. Once again, Mr Flanagan has written an engaging adventure story that I think a lot of young boys will love. Will and Evanlyn have been kidnapped by the Skandians and this book tells of their sea voyage to Skandia and how they are sold into slavery once they arrive. I really enjoyed seeing a new mature Will as he is away from Halt and has to try and get himself out of the predicament that he has found himself in. But he never gives up, no matter how desperate the situation seems. I love this aspect of his character and I am sure this will be inspiration to any boys who read this series.

But there are certain things that happen to Will in the second part of this novel that absolutely broke my heart. I just wanted to reach into the pages of the book and give him a big hug. It upset me to think of a young boy being put into such a position and the ending did bring a little tear to my eye. However, this part of the storyline seemed a lot more mature than the rest of the series so far and it makes me wonder if the author is trying to reach out to older readers too. I will be interested to see where the author goes with this as the series continues.

The Icebound Land also details the travels of Halt and Horace as they go in pursuit of Will and Evanlyn in an attempt to get them back. I really started to like Halt in this novel. Up until now I have felt pretty indifferent towards him but, for me, he really shone in this book. He will, literally, go to the ends of the earth to help his apprentice and this really endeared him to me. And I really noticed his sense of humour as he travels with Horace. I felt as though we were finally seeing the human side of the legendary Ranger and I hope to learn even more about him as the series continues.

Summary - An engaging adventure story that had me hooked from the start. But for me, the real strength of The Icebound Land is its lovable and realistic characters. I can't wait to read more about this fascinating group of people.

Other books in this series:
1. The Ruins of Gorlan
2. The Burning Bridge
3. The Icebound Land
4. Oakleaf Bearers
5. The Sorcerer in the North
6. The Siege of Macindaw
7. Erak's Ransom
8. The Kings of Clonmel
9. Halt's Peril
10. The Emperor of Nihon-Ja
11. The Lost Stories

Other reviews of this book:
Eclectic/Eccentric / Kids Reads

This book counts towards the following challenges:
Book #2 for 2012 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge


Anonymous said...

What do you mean Will gets out of trouble he got in himself in this book? If I'm not mistaken he was on drugs and like a zombie or something for pretty good chunk of it.

Chrissie (Once Upon a Series) said...

Hi Anonymous. Yes, Will was on drugs and zombie-like for the last half of the book.

In my review I was talking about the first section of the book when he is travelling with the Skandians and is trying to escape from them. I enjoyed seeing him making up plans and using the skills he had learnt from Halt whilst he was on his own :)

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