Tuesday, November 13, 2012

let's Hear it for the Boys - The Battle for Skandia by John Flanagan

Published: March 2008
Publisher: Philomel
Pages: 272
Copy: Library
Summary: Goodreads

Still far from their homeland after escaping slavery in the icebound land of Skandia, Will and Evanlyn's plans to return to Araluen are spoiled when Evanlyn is taken captive by a Temujai warrior. Though still weakened by the warmweed's toxic effects, Will employs his Ranger training to locate his friend, but an enemy scouting party has him fatally outnumbered. Will is certain death is close at hand, until Halt and Horace make a daring, last-minute rescue. The reunion is cut short, however, when Halt makes a horrifying discovery: Skandia's borders have been breached by the entire Temujai army. And Araluen is next in their sights. If two kingdoms are to be saved, an unlikely union must be made. Will it hold long enough to vanquish a ruthless new enemy? Or will past tensions spell doom for all?The battles and drama are nonstop in Book Four of this hugely popular epic.

The Battle for Skandia is the fourth volume in John Flanagans brilliant Ranger's Apprentice series.  This is a series that I recommend constantly at work for boys and I have yet to have anyone come back to me and say they didn't like it. 

Each volume has some type of adventure and/or battle where the main characters are neck deep in trouble and this volume is no exception.  After having been separated, Will and Evanlyn meet up again with Horace and Halt, but very shortly find themselves involved with the Skandians again.  This time trying to stop the invading Temujai from taking over the country.

Halt is as enigmatic as always and Horace is wonderful, there is no subterfuge to Horace, what you see, is what you get, and his moral code is set in stone. Will continues to grow, in character if not in stature and Evanlyn continues to make herself useful wherever she can. One of the things I love about this series is the strong adult characters. Halt is a positive and welcoming role model for the kids to follow and while there are nasty bad guys, the positve influence well outweighs the negative.

Flanagan continues to define his characters, but this volume is more about the action.  There is a lot of interesting preparation for the big battle and then wow, we are right in the middle of it.  I found the whole strategy for the battle rather fascinating and I loved the way the Skandians come to realise that their brute force methods, while successful, are not always the best way to win.

If you haven't already started this series, give it a try.  It is well worth it.

1. The Ruins of Gorlan
2. The Burning Bridge
3. The Icebound Land
4. The Battle for Skandia
5. The Sorceror of the North
6. The Seige 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.

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