| Spoiler Alert!
Warning! This page contains spoilers for The Royal Ranger.
Horace Altman is an extremely good friend of Will's and is one of the youngest, best, and the most famous knight in the kingdom of Araluen, known as the Oakleaf Knight. He is also Cassandra's husband.
Horace grew up in the ward at Redmont after being orphaned at a young age. Initially he hated Will towards one, but becomes best friends with him after sharing a number of dangerous and bonding experiences together. Horace becomes a Battleschool apprentice in The Ruins of Gorlan and shows natural talent with the sword.
Known in Gallica as the Knight of the Oakleaf, his arms bear the insignia of an oakleaf. Horace is currently Captain of the King's Royal Guard. He has a legendary reputation, having defeated and killed Morgarath in single combat, made his way through Gallica as Knight of the Oakleaf, helped save Skandia from the Temujai, and saved Clonmel as the Sunrise Warrior. He is a champion to Princess Cassandra, and a deeper relationship between them is hinted at in The Battle For Skandia and throughout the rest of the series. He eventually marries her; thus it is implied that he becomes heir to the throne of Araluen.
In The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, it was announced that he and Princess Cassandra would be getting married. He then suggested that Gundar performed the wedding while traveling home to Araluen, to which Cassandra replied, "Gundar isn't as much a ship's captain as a reformed pirate and a heathen." Gundar cheerfully accepted this, saying "I'm not too sure about the reformed part."
The Ruins of Gorlan
Horace grew up in the Orphan Ward in Castle Redmont, with several other orphans, including the famous Will, the famous chef Jenny, the scribe George, and the beautiful courier Alyss; he and Will were enemies for part of the first book because he bullied Will, calling him names and fighting with him.
On Choosing Day, Horace is chosen out of the orphans by Sir Rodney to join the Battleschool which he is delighted by, to which Rodney replies "You don't know what you're letting yourself in for". Horace finds the life at Battleschool very different to what he'd envisioned. It involved lots of training and hardwork with a vigorous and unrelenting training regimen, to make matters worst he was singled out by a group of bullies from a higher year: Alda , Jerome and Bryn who make his life miserable beyond words.
During a sword training lesson, Sir Rodney and another senior knight, Sir Karel , suddenly recognize Horace's natural ability with the sword. The first-year apprentices are practicing in the battleschool yard repeating a sword sequence over and over again. Sir Rodney is watching and spots Horace doing something slightly different. He is adding and extra, very quick, sword stroke to the sequence without missing a beat. Added to this, Horace isn't aware that he is doing it, a sure sign that he is a natural swordsman.
Rodney wants to put him under the instruction of one of the senior sword masters but waits for a while to see what Horace's character is like, realizing that if he gives Horace special tutalage and he turns out to be a bad person the consequences could be dire. Rodney is puzzled by Horace; he sees that the young man has all the good qualities of a knight but his schoolwork is turned in late and sloppily done, he is often seen sporting bruises as if he has been in a fight and the other boys avoid him. Rodney doesn't realise that he is being bullied.
Horace believes that the bullying is a natural part of the "toughning up" process of Battleschool and therefore doesn't complain, allowing the three bullies to continue with their cruel acts.
On Harvest Day , all the wards are given a day off and they plan to meet up, Horace is late for the meeting however and when he turns up and sees his friends having a good time he snaps, partly due to the suffering of being bullied, and confronts Will and his former ward-mates. Will and Horace start to fight, laying into one another with punches but Rodney appears and intervenes, forcing the two to shake hands and make up.
Later on, Horace is asked by Sir Rodney to join him on a boar hunt; Halt is present with Will at the event and after the first boar is killed, is on the verge of making up with Will but changes his mind at the last moment. A second boar suddenly bursts out of cover, startling everyone as no-one realised there was another animal. The enraged boar charges at Horace but Will jumps in it's path distracting it. The boar is about to kill Will but Halt kills it with a well-placed arrow before his apprentice is injured. Horace is at first puzzled at why Will would save him from the boar until Will says "we may have fought in the past but I never hated you" and the two become friends.
After this incident Horace is set upon by Alda, Bryn and Jerome who believe he made the battleschool look stupid after Will saved him at the boar hunt. They beat him with wood canes then leave him semi-conscious on the floor. As they walk away Horace hears one of them say that they are going to give the same treatment to the "sneaker" their name for Will and rangers in general. Horace gets to his feet once they have gone, resisting the temptation to just lie there and goes after the bullies armed with a wooden sword to save his friend.
Horace arrives at the clearing where Halt and Will live just as the three bullies are about to start beating Will and tells them to stop. Halt suddenly appears on the scene and disarms the three bullies then gets them to fight Horace one by one. Horace defeats them all with ease, being far more skilled than them. After the incident Halt visits Rodney and brings the bullying incident to light, the three teens are exiled from Redmont Fief and battleschool and Horace immediatly notices an improvement in his life at battleschool, he even starts to make a few friends and finds it easier to cope with his work and the physical activity.
Horace wanted to thank Halt properly but by the time he is allowed to be released from the infirmary where he has been recovering Will and Halt have already left for the Ranger Gathering .
He appears at the end of the book when all of the wards get together and have a meal at the local inn after Will kills the Kalkara. Horace gets up and dances with Jenny beating Will to it.
Horace is present when Will is formally thanked by Baron Arald and offered a place in the Battleschool. He leads the cheers for Will showing how much his relationship with Will has changed over the course of the book.
The Burning Bridge
After Will's defeat of the threatening Kalkara, Horace joined Will and Ranger Gilan to deliver a message to Celtica. He is a little in awe of Gilan initially but Gilan soon breaks the ice in his easy manner. Horace soon discovers Gilan is a superb swordsman and the two spar with one another, Horace is unable to beat Gilan and is disapointed at this but cheers up when Gilan points out that he has been training for longer than him.
The trio arrive at their first stop, a small town. However, it is complety deserted. Horace and Will are worried at this and Horace starts to think that a disease has killed everyone until Gilan points out the flaws in his theory as there are no bodies anywhere. They stay in one of the abandoned houses for the night as it rains then move on in the morning, perturbed at the deserted village.
They soon meet Princess Cassandra, hiding under the name of Evanlyn, at first they think she is a boy because she had cut her hair short and was wearing boys clothes but they then realise she is a girl. She reveals that the Wargals have enslaved a number of people and killed the rest which is why the towns are deserted.
After Gilan left to report the situation in Celtica, Horace, Will and Evanlyn discovered a horde of Wargals, Lord Morgarath's creatures.
There, after Gilan taught Will the double knife defense , with Horace watching, Will and Horace sparred with sticks to let Will practice the double knife defense, Horace also picks it up at the same time.
A bridge was being used to reach Celtica across the Fissure, a seemingly impassable split in the earth. From there General Horth would flank the Araluen army. Will and Evanlyn burned the bridge, with Horace keeping watch, but the former two got captured, so Horace set off to warn the king of the approaching Skandian army and his two companions' fate.
Not long after that, he fought Lord Morgarath in single combat. He is losing badly after Morgarath knocks the young man off his horse. Horace, in a last-ditch attempt to save himself, throws himself under the horse Morgarath is riding and unseats the former Baron. Morgarath, however, is only a little winded and is winding up to kill Horace with a powerful slice of his broadsword but Horace manages to block it using the double-knife defence which he was taught in Celtica. He then stabs Morgarath and kills the man before collapsing from his injuries himself having cracked some of his ribs and sustained a number of bruises and other injuries.
Sir Rodney is furious at Horace's rash and impulsive act, mainly because he was worried about his apprentice.
The Icebound LandIn The Icebound Land, he joins Halt in his quest to find Will and bring him back to Araluen.
In Gallica he develops a good relationship with Halt who in return warms to him; they eventually become good friends, Horace, like almost every young character in the series, looking up to him as a mentor-like figure.
Soon after they arrive in Gallica Halt and Horace come across a knight who has "adopted" a bridge, meaning he won't let people pass unless they pay a tribute. Halt is about to deal with him, not wanting to be slowed down by these "idiots" which he rightly calls them, when Horace steps in and offers to fight the man guarding the bridge. Halt, after some deliberation agrees to this and on the spot makes up a name for Horace, Sir Horace knight of the Oakleaf, as the Gallic knight will only fight a knight in return. Horace wheels around Kicker and charges the man, not bothering with a jousting pole and calmly knocks the man off his horse, Halt then removes the man of his horse and armour as the rules of knightly combat state that they now belong to Horace.
This continues to happen throughout the book, Horace defeating numerous opponents. This soon gains him a reputation throughout Gallica.
Later in the book, Horace has an unwanted meeting with the evil Lord Deparnieux, who had heard of Horace's reputation and had come to challenge him to a duel. Horace remained unfazed by the various insults that the lord throws at him and when Deparnieux tries to slap him across the face with his glove (the traditional method of challenging someone to a duel); Halt uses his longbow and an arrow to spear it to the roof of the inn and sends the warlord packing.
The day after this, Horace and Halt are both captured by the lord when travelling through the woods nearby and are then taken to his castle Chatateau Montsombre , where they are made prisoners. Horace is disgusted at the Lord's behavior, both his methods of punishment and the contempt with which he treats his staff, seeing that this is not how a knight should behave.
They later escape after Halt challenges Deparnieux to a duel and wins, killing the evil warlord. He gives the castle to the Captain of the guard, but leaves a burning torch in a pile of flammable things.
The Battle for Skandia
The Sorcerer in the North
In the Sorcerer in the North Horace makes a brief appearance at the end of the book with Halt and Crowley, in Castle Araluen. He is sent off to help Will in Macindaw and provide some support if the situation becomes dangerous as Crowley and Halt are worried because there has been no news from Will for some time.Norgate Fief on Kicker. He is met and challenged by Buttle , the brigand from the Sorcerer in the North Will dealt with in a relatively unconventional way, he has become a knight (though a bit of a lousy one) and tries to get Horace to work for him in Castle Macindaw when Horace refuses he is about to attack him but thinks again as Horace has a very calm and confident expression on his face despite being face with several armed men. He rides off, warning Horace to get out of the area and then Horace continues on the way.
He eventually comes to the inn Will stayed in when travelling as a jonguleur and arouses the innkeepers suspicions by asking questions about Will which the innkeeper doesn't like. Will suddenly appears in the doorway, having found out from Malcolm's friends that Horace is in the neighborhood. For a moment the two have a stand-off initially not recognizing each other before falling about laughing and embracing one another. The innkeeper is confused but that turns to delight when Will lets it slip that Hawken is actually Horace. The innkeeper sidles off to tell his wife that two famous heroes are in his house.
There, Horace meets the Skandian crew which he will be leading in the battle. The majority of the Skandians are fine about being led by the young warrior but one of them, Nils Ropehander , is dismissive of Horace and says that he won't be led into battle by a "boy still wet behind the ears" this doesn't anger Horace as the knight knows that getting angry isn't a good idea. Instead he knocks the larger man backwards with an open-palmed strike to the nose then holds a sword to his throat. This is a method Skandians are happy with when it comes to resolving arguments, something that Horace learned in Skandia.
In Erak's Ransom, Horace is an usher at Halt and Pauline's wedding. When Svengal crashes the wedding he helps Will restore order to the event and then hears of how Erak is being held ransom in Arridi.
He then accompanies Cassandra, Will, Gilan and Halt to Arridi to negotiate Erak's ransom. He, Will and Cassandra enjoy spending the time with one another again.
When in Arridia Horace, sizes up with Selethen, recognizing him as a fellow warrior and expert swordsman. He is impressed at Evanlyn's negotiating skills and mentions as such to Will.
He takes on the guise of a legendary warrior from the east: The Sunrise Warrior; to help win the confidence of the people of Hibernia.
He later takes on Tennyson's two bodyguards in a duel, defeating one much to the delight of the crowd, during the break in between the two fights he is poisoned by a Genovesan Assassin who puts a drug in his water which makes his eyesight go blurry so he cannot see properly. He goes into the fight and is on the verge of loosing when Will charges in with the evidence that his friend has been poisoned.
He stays with Halt in Clonmel whilst his eyesight gets better before travelling with the Ranger to meet Will who has gone ahead in pursuit of Tennyson and his band of Outsiders. Before they do that however, Halt and Horace go to visit Ferris's grave where Horace comments that "he wasn't much of a King but he was the only one they had," Halt responds in the kind saying, "and he wasn't much of a brother but he was the only one I had."
After Horace has recovered from the affects the drug given to him in the previous book and Sean has been made King he and Halt travel after Will who has gone ahead to a port in Hibernia where Tennyson was last seen heading.
The two soon catch up with Will who morosely tells them that he was unable to convince a smuggler by the name of Black O'Malley to take them to Araluen. The three then go together and Halt convinces the smuggler to take them back. Horace plays his part well, dealing with the smuggler's two henchmen with ease.
Horace remains outside the Drowned Forest whilst Will and Halt go in to track down the two Genovesans. When Halt is poisoned he stays with the Ranger whilst Will goes off to fetch Malcolm.
During this time Horace notices that he is being watched by the remaining Genovesan, Baccari. He also notes that Tennyson's camp must be nearby as Baccari goes away every night and comes back in the morning. Horace believes Halt's condition to be improving as the Ranger keeps on waking and talks.
However, when Will and Malcolm arrive the healer tells the two young men that Halt is, in fact, becoming worst. Horace stays with Malcom whilst Will pursues Baccari and brings him back to the camp to get him to tell them what poison was used on Halt. Baccari pretends to have forgotten and Will is so angry he comes close to killing the assassin, Horace intervenes, and comes up with another idea. He poisions the assassin with one of his own crossbow bolts, leaving the Genovesan with no other choice than to tell them what poison he used.
Later, Baccari tries to escape and almost strangles Horace with some cord, leaving the warrior unconscious. Will wakes up and after a brief knife-fight, kills the Genovesan.
A few days later Horace, Will, Halt and Malcolm head into a cave located in the sandstone cliffs where Tennyson is hiding out, it is there that Horace reveals that he is claustrophobic and hates dark, enclosed spaces. Malcolm helps the young knight to remedy this by giving him a type of mushroom which emits a faint light in the dark. This helps to ease Horace's anxiety.
In the Emperor of Nihon-Ja, Horace is sent to Nihon-Ja along with his old ward-mate George in order to learn about their sword technique which is unique to the country. He soon becomes good friends with Shigeru and spends a lot of time with him until Shigeru becomes something of a father-like figure to him. He also become good friends with Shigeru's cousin Shukin who is a warrior like Horace.
However, news is brought of the rebellion against Shigeru and Horace initially wishes to stay with Shigeru but is unable to as he has no right to get tangled up in Nihon-Jan politics, as pointed out by George
They are then attacked by a band of scouts sent by Arisaka to kill Shigeru, Horace helps to fight them off and his life is saved by George who takes an arrow for him. Later when he is about to leave for the coast to journey back to Araluen he tells his friend that he can't as he attacked Arisaka's senshi and is now involved in the war one way or another. George is initially indignant but then sees what Horace means and tells the knight that he will send a letter to Cassandra telling her what has happened which Horace is grateful for.
The group then journeys to the legendary fortress of Ran-Koshi, to seek out shelter there during the winter and work on plans for what they are going to do. Arisaka's army is marching after them and constantly gaining.
When Shukin is killed by Arisaka, Horace takes on some of his responsability, helping to lead and senshi and also the kikori who have come to help fight for their emperor.
When Halt, Will, Alyss, Cassandra and Selethen turn up Horace is delighted to see them and have their help. He introduces them to Shigeru and then catches up on news with his friends. Shukin left Horace a copy of Horace's sword forged of Nihon-jan steel, a nearly unbreakable metal. Horace still carries that sword
When Alyss and Cassandra are going to fetch help from the hassanu, Horace isn't happy about the two girls travelling by the themselves but is eventually reconciled to the plan when he sees they won't be stopped.
Horace appears in several of the tales from the Lost Stories.
Horace is mentioned briefly by Halt in Death of a Hero.
In the Bridal Dance Horace is married to Cassandra by Baron Arald at Redmont castle at a huge ceremony.
Horace was ceremonial armour and his sword as befitting a knight on such an occasion.
Horace and Cassandra are given a castle in Nihon-Ja by Shigeru who is the patron-sponser for the event and the two agree to give all the earnings from the land to families who lost loved ones in the war against Arisaka. The crowd breaks into loud applause at this.
He is incredibly grateful to Will for saving Cassandra's life after the Genovesan Assassins target her during her dance with her father.
Horace and Cassandra are present at Alyss and Will's wedding. Horace is naturally the best man and Cassandra the maid of honor to Alyss. He wrote to Will a little while before the wedding saying that Cassandra was pregnant and he was soon to be a father. Horace was delighted at this.
Horace is now a father in this book, his daughter being the rather wild princess Madelyn. He sends her to be Will's apprentice to gain some discipline, experience, and friends.
Horace is described as being very tall and muscular with broad shoulders and narrow hips (the classic build of a knight). He has bright blue eyes which are described as being guileless, and brown hair.
Horace isn't often said to be a good thinker; however, this is not entirely true. He is slower and more methodical in his way of thinking, when compared to his friends. He is a dependable friend and is very courageous, as shown when he duels Morgarath in The Burning Bridge. Horace is very loyal to the knightly code of conduct, chivalry, something which is shown to exasperate Halt in book four as he thinks more practically than Horace and also Ranger's are often more 'flexible' with the law than other people. He uses a cavalry sword, which was replaced in The Emperor of Nihon-Ja by Shukin with a replica that was remade to be harder, in a similar way to the Ranger's saxe knives.
Ever since he was a child, Horace has been afraid of confined, dark spaces (revealed in Halt's Peril). When going through the tunnel in Book 9 of the Ranger Apprentice series, after the first few meters he began to panic. The following is a paragraph from Halt's Peril:
"For the first few metres, there was enough light from the entrance to keep him oriented. But after the tunnel began to twist and turn, it became darker and he felt the old familiar sense of panic as he imagined the blackness around him squeezing in on him. In his mind, the darkness was a solid thing, like the rock itself, and he began to fantasise that it was crushing him, holding him in a gradually tightening vice so that he couldn't breathe. His heart began to race as he stared around him, seeing nothing. His chest was tightening and then he realised that, in his nervousness, he had actually neglected to breathe. He drew in a deep shuddering breath."
- Swordsman- Horace is an incredibly talented swordsman, one of the best in the kingdom of Araluen, he is famed for his ability with the sword, something his tutors saw as soon as he joined up with the Battleschool. He is a "natural" or a person who uses a sword like an extension of their mind.
- Tactician - Though he doesn't have the same ability when it comes to thinking up combat tactics as Rangers do, he has been taught in his time at Battleschool how to deal with various scenarios, such as taking siege to a castle and so on.
- Double Knife Defence- in his time travelling with Will and Gilan in the Burning Bridge he learned a bit about the Ranger's double knife defense technique which he later used on Morgarath when challenging the evil warlord to a duel. This allowed him to defeat Morgarath and end the war.
Influence of the Rangers
Horace also received Halt's spare camouflage cloak, to the annoyance of the two Rangers, as he kept asking if they could see him, like a child with a new toy. His time with the Rangers has changed his thinking, and general view of the world. Horace has become more flexible with bending laws and chivalry. He has, several times, blamed his "degrading moral standards" on the time he spends with Halt and Will. He looks up to the Rangers as indestructible and infallible. He also received minor unseen movement, unheard movement, tracking, and scouting instruction from Halt and Will in Halt's Peril. He isn't able to use these much, as a gleaming suit of armor gives a person away.
It is somewhat hinted that when he was knighted as the Oakleaf Knight, this makes him an ally/honorary member of the Rangers, as their symbol is the Oakleaf. His horse, Kicker is comparable to a Ranger horse in physical capability, and is learning miscellaneous things from his Ranger counterparts, too, such as staying where he is put. In addition, Horace has become clever and dangerously good at verbal sparring during his time with his Ranger friends.
RelationshipsWill Treaty. It was hinted throughout the books that they had feelings for each other, starting from the Battle for Skandia when Cassandra hugs Horace. Though there was a little tension between Will and Horace about this relationship this never lasted. At the end of The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, Horace proposed to Cassandra and she accepted. Their marriage was shown in the The Lost Stories. Later, Cassandra became preganant and was expecting a child in And About Time Too ... which Horace was extremely excited about. He was less excited when Maddie started rebelling against her parents. In the first book, Horace and Will were enemies, but gradually throughout the book, they became extremely close friends, practically brothers. In the Ruins of Gorlan they fought one another a lot but after an encounter with a wild boar in which both were almost killed they became close friends after saving one anothers lives. In the Icebound Land Horace makes a decision to go with Halt through Gallica and into Skandia to find Will. When Cassandra and Horace get engaged there is not question as to who is the best man and Will performs his duty making an excellent speech at their wedding despite a lot of setbacks. Horace and Halt are good friends. They traveled together to rescue Will in The Icebound Land and Oakleaf Bearers. They, with Will, went on a journey to stop the Genovesans in The King's of Clonmel and Halt's Peril. Halt is rather annoyed, but deep down happy, with Horace's deep curiosity like Will. Horace respects the Ranger very much. Halt is a father-figure to Horace and in turn Halt feels like Horace is almost a son to him but not in the same way as Will. In the Time spent with Halt and Will he built up tactical thinking, wit, and mild disregard for the rules. Horace and Alyss were friends during their time in the Redmont Ward and think of one another as brother and sister. Horace also encouraged the romantic relationship between Will and Alyss at the end of the Siege of Macindaw. In turn, Alyss gives Horace some encouragement with regard to his relationship with Cassandra.
Horace respects his Craftmaster very much. Sir Rodney thinks (rightly) Horace will turn into a great knight and is very proud of him. Rodney became a father-like figure to Horace over the course of the books and, at his and Cassandra's wedding, Rodney leads a very enthusiastic cheer for his former apprentice before his fiancee gently tells him not to get too carried away.Throughout Horace's time in Nihon-Ja the two become close, Horace looking up to Shigeru as a fatherlike figure. He is delighted when Shigeru is able to make his wedding in the Bridal Dance, as Shigeru had said he could go to Araluen for a "high-class wedding".
Horace and Shukin were good friends for the short time they knew each other and respected one another but their friendship was cut short when Shukin died in a dual with Arisaka though he was able to help Horace and his friend through death with a gift to his friend, a new sword, that has been hardened like the Katana that Shigeru used.
Horace gets along well with his horse, the two having been together since the Burning Bridge. Horace often talks to him, and says that Kicker "knows his ways".
King Duncan has become another father-like figure to Horace and the two seem to get along well with one another. Duncan knights Horace in the Battle for Skandia and has him poster at Castle Araluen, a very high honour.
- Baby (nickname given to him by Alda, Bryn, and Jerome)
- Sir Horace (after he was knighted)
- Sir Hawken (when undercover in Norgate)
- Knight of the Oakleaf - Chevalier de la feuille de chêne (title given to Horace by Halt when they were travelling through Gallica to get rid of bandit knights)
- Michael (when undercover in Clonmel)
- The Sunrise Warrior (title given to Horace by Halt. The Warrior is a Hibernian myth)
- Or'ss-san (title given while visiting Nihon-Ja; simplified version of Horace-san.)
- Kurokuma -black bear in Nihon-Jan (title given by Shigeru and Shukin for his "prowess at the dinner table").
- Horace is renowned for his massive appetite and throughout the books remarks are made by his friends on the amount of food he manages to get through.
- During the time he spends with the Rangers he develops a love of coffee laced with honey.
- Horace, unlike other knights, does not use a fancy sword, he uses a regular sword that's been hardened and is very sharp.
- His sword was specially made for him by Shukin, it was crafted in the Nihon-Ja style, and so it much harder, stronger, sharper and balanced than the average Araluen Knights sword.