Wednesday, February 17, 2010

[Novel Review] The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1)

I picked this up mainly because the cover is suggesting that it's some sort of dark fantasy novel. The mysterious cloaked guy in it made me even more intrigued with it.

I saw it on sale, so I bought it at once. The sequel was also for sale, but I decided not to buy that one as well because it has been sort of my rule to not buy sequels unless I've read their preceding books. So I didn't.

Thank goodness I made the right decision. The first book was a failure.

The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1)
by John Flanagan
He had always wanted to be a warrior. The Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways, made him nervous. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now fifteen year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice. What he doesn't realize yet is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied . . .
Well, it was indeed a dark fantasy novel. Or rather it tries hard to be one. The only dark elements here are the main villains . . . but they don't seem as threatening as how the novel tries so hard to make them seem. After all, it didn't take too many chapters to defeat those creatures. We haven't heard much about the mastermind around the end either. The introduction of the cast, the training days and the moments with the little fights and stuff took more chapters than the actual adventure. And that's what made the novel so freakin' boring.

It's slow-paced, I get it. There's totally nothing wrong with that. But detailing almost everything that was done during the training (or what happened during their school life), and mentioning how each particular training had enhanced a particular skill is just a waste of sentences and paragraphs. The book didn't only waste its pages on that. For some reason it also loves to emphasize on how freakin' talented the main character and his friends are. They are all the best on what they're good at (e.g. the girl who loves to cook is so freakin' good that even the palace chef admired her greatly. And of course, she's better than the other cooks. Of course.)

And of course, the main character is freakin' exceptional and special. Yes, there's this little twist of him excelling in something different from what he thought he wanted. But after discovering it, he turns out to be a natural. And yeah, even though he was new to the spy thing, he managed to rescue a friend, who's supposed to be the fighter between them, and he also managed to save important people and the whole kingdom in fact. He's the hero. It's all him. All him. The amateur was better than those characters who are supposedly the more talented and experienced one. But the main character has to receive all the glory in this adventure. He has to be as great as possible. Oh that's so terrific....

Ah, another character complain. One of the main characters is supposed to be a knight prodigy since he's a natural on the swordfights and all. However, he couldn't handle the three big bullies, because it was three-against-one. But if it's one-on-one he won't have a problem in dealing with them . . . even if he's very badly injured. And he's considered a prodigy . . . riiiiight. But as if it's always one-on-one in real battle. The real skillful warrior can handle a number of weaklings with no sweat. This is a fantasy adventure novel after all. They fight monsters so puny enemies shouldn't have been a problem. *sighs* I acknowledge that author's attempt to make an extremely talented character not to be as perfect as he seems . . . . but the result was a failure.

If characterization is already horrible, the development on the relationships isn't anything better. Especially the romance, because it just happened for the sake of the leading character having a love interest. It went as far as a kiss at that moment but before that, they didn't interact much . . . nor do we see them having a special connection/interaction except for the fact that they've been friends longer than the others.*bangs head on the wall* The interesting bond perhaps is between the main character and his master/teacher. The master seemed cold or indifferent at first but as days go by they slowly warm up to each other. It was a cute development. However, at times it creeps me out when the main character becomes overjoyed when he sees his master smile. I know it's because his master rarely shows emotions and he likes the guy being proud of him . . . but still . . . to be THAT happy everytime it happens . . . for some reason it makes me have wild imaginations . . ..

The only thing, or person rather, that I actually appreciated is the apprentice before the main character, whose name I forgot (starts with a "G" if I remember correctly). He only get to do something cool very briefly . . .he even failed in it. The "rule" of the main character always being better has to be followed. Ugh. Well, anyway, what I liked about him was that he was fun. He's the one who jokes a bit (the other jokes try to be cool but are actually lame. But this guy is indeed lame, and that's what made him funny for me). So in other words, he didn't bore me, unlike the rest of the cast . . . who are all uninteresting. *yawns*.

Overall, it was extremely boring. I was absolutely not pleased on its strategy in wasting pages. It fails in suspense and plot twists as well, because they're so expected and some are delayed on purpose though the answer's already so obvious. The characterizations and character/relationship development gave me the most headaches. Even if it had the friendship love that I adore so much . . . but the best friend pair in this one is so dull to me. I'm so disappointed that this book is just your typical fantasy adventure novel . . . and it wasn't as interesting as it seemed to me.

I admit that this book isn't that horrible. but it's nowhere near great at all. Maybe the succeeding books have improved, but I don't want to take the risk. There are many other interesting books in my to-read list.

If you just want to read a YA fantasy adventure novel, this isn't a bad choice. But if you want something different and exciting, pick a different one for this will just disappoint, in my opinion. Novels are meant to save an avid reader from boredom, not make them bored and sleepy.

D (DAMN HORRIBLE! What a complete waste of time!)
It really wasn't that horrible but it's so boring and typical . . . definitely a waste of time. I regret reading it.
2 Hearts ---> DISLIKE
It was disappointing, but nothing particularly annoyed the hell out of me.

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