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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the fourth book in the "Ranger's Apprentice" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

After escaping slavery in Skandia, Ranger's apprentice Will and princess-in-disguise Evanlyn are waiting for spring so they can return home. While checking their traps for food, Evanlyn is taken captive by a Temujai warrior. The Temujai are a foreign people known for their battle tactics, archery and skill on horseback. When Will realizes Evanlyn has been taken, he tracks her down. Meanwhile Halt, Will's teacher, and Horace, Will's friend, are searching for the missing Will and Evanlyn. The three men cross paths in time to save Evanlyn from the Temujai.

Halt tells Will about a group of dead Skandians that he and Horace saw as they were crossing into Skandia. Halt recognized the arrows in the bodies as belonging to a group of Temujai. He plans to return Will, Evanlyn and Horace to safety before he discovers what the Temujai are up to. Before they can leave Skandia, they are discovered by Erak, a Skandian lord. Erak listens to Halt's concerns about the Temujai. He refuses to send Will, Evanlyn and Horace across the border, and leaves them with his men while he and Halt scout the Temujai. They discover the foreigners are marching an army toward Hallasholm, the Skandian capital. Skandians are seafaring people, and Halt realizes that if the Temujai gain control of the Skandian ships, they will cross the sea to conquer his home country, Araluen. Halt is familiar with the Temujai's battle tactics, so he offers to help the Skandians in exchange for his companions' safety.

In Hallasholm, Erak convinces his leader, Oberjarl Ragnak, to trust Halt and his friends. The Skandians are used to attacking head on with brute force. Knowing that's what the Temujai expect, Halt devises a plan that is more tactical. As part of their defense, he instructs Will to train a group of men in archery. During the battle, the Temujai are surprised by Will's archers and the fact that the Skandians aren't attacking head on. Halt's strategy works, and the Temujai are forced to retreat.

Ragnak is killed during the battle, and Erak is chosen as the new Oberjarl or leader. Halt tells Erak that the Temujai aren't defeated — they'll be back again. Erak and Evanlyn, as Princess Cassandra of Araluen, agree to a five-year peace treaty between their countries so they can join forces if the Temujai attack again. Before taking his position as Oberjarl, Erak transports his Araluen friends back home. Cassandra's father, the king, throws a banquet to celebrate the safe return of his daughter. As a reward for their bravery, the king knights Horace, lifts the yearlong exile he had placed on Halt and offers Will a position in an elite group of archers. Will thanks the king but insists he wants to finish his training as a Ranger.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems

The Skandians believe in the Vallas, a trio of savage gods who are the center of the Skandian religion. Ragnak makes a vow to the Vallas to take revenge on his enemy, Kind Duncan of Araluen. The vow is binding, and fulfilling it is considered a matter of honor. Because he died fighting in battle, the Skandians believe that Ragnak is granted entrance into the highest level of their version of heaven.

Authority Roles

Halt is Will's teacher. He is an intelligent man who considers his options before making a decision. Rather than seek glory for himself, he is happy to appoint the best person to each position. When offered a reward for returning Princess Cassandra, he insists that being reinstated as a Ranger is reward enough.

Erak is a jarl (lord) in Skandia. He is a fierce warrior but is humble enough to see when he needs help. Knowing that he and his men aren't trained to take on the Temujai, he works with Halt to make a battle plan. Because his people see that he is a fair, wise and a strong warrior, they elect him the next Oberjarl, the leader of Skandia.

Ragnak is the Oberjarl of Skandia at the beginning of the novel. He is a stubborn man who refuses to leave his castle even when his country is threatened with an invasion. He doesn't want to abandon the treasures he spent his life amassing. Though he longs to jump into battle and face his enemies head on, he is willing to listen to counsel and receive help.


Characters use the name of God with the words my and sake. Dialog is peppered with uses of d--n and h---.

On their search for Will, Horace and Halt come across a group of dead Skandians. They note arrows in their bodies and blood soaking the snow around them. A Skandian slave is beaten. She is bloody and her face is bruised and swollen.

Ragnak is killed during the battle between the Skandians and the Temujai. His body is described as having more than 50 wounds when he died, so no one knows which wound is responsible for killing him.

During the battle, both sides attack and kill one another with arrows and swords. Will notes the sound of the Temujai's horses screaming as they die. He also hears the cries of dying men. The descriptions of the fighting mention blood and clashing swords, but there are no graphic details.


The Temujai general has three wives and a concubine. He notes that his concubine isn't as beautiful as his wives, but she's useful on a campaign because she can cook.

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Alcohol: When Ragnak dies, the Skandians spend three days mourning him. Part of their mourning ritual is to drink heavily for those days.

Greed: The Skandians refuse to abandon their homes to the Temujai because the wealth they amassed is stored there. They'd rather face a larger, better-trained army than lose their money.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

9 to 12


John Flanagan






Record Label



Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group


On Video

Year Published





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