| Spoiler Alert!
Warning! This page contains spoilers for The Royal Ranger.
The Royal Ranger is the 12th and final novel in The Ranger's Apprentice series.
John Flanagan makes a spectacular return to the world of Ranger's Apprentice - but what has happened since you last saw Will and his friends might shock you!
After a senseless tragedy destroys his life, Will is obsessed with punishing those responsible - even if it means leaving the Ranger Corps. His worried friends must find a way to stop him taking such a dark path.
It is Halt who suggests the solution: Will must take an apprentice. The candidate Halt has in mind will surprise everyone - and it will be a request Will cannot refuse.
Training a rebellious, unwilling apprentice is hard enough. But when a routine mission uncovers a shocking web of crime, Will must decide where his priorities lie - finishing his quest for revenge, or saving innocent lives?
The final book of the Ranger's Apprentice series raises the stakes higher than ever. Is Will on his last mission for the Ranger Corps?
Will Treaty tries to cope with the death of Alyss Mainwaring, who died in a fire set on an inn by a gang leader, Jory Ruhl, when she went back inside the burning building to save a young child. Will's friends begin to notice that his once cheerful personality has grown grim and uninviting. After numerous attempts to "snap him out of it", Gilan calls on Halt, Pauline, Cassandra, and Horace to discuss how to deal with Will. Halt suggests that Will take on an apprentice to take his mind off his quest for revenge.
Meanwhile, Princess Madelyn, the daughter of Horace and Cassandra, is upset with her restrained royal life. Against the will of her parents, Maddie sneaks out at night to use her sling to hunt small animals. One night, Cassandra and Horace confront Maddie and ground her to her room for a period of two weeks. Halt suggests that Maddie be the one taken on by Will, which would make Maddie the first female Ranger's apprentice in history. Through the course of her apprenticeship, Maddie discovers that she has been disinherited as a princess of Araluen, a desperate last resort by her parents to get her under control. Will proceeds to train Maddie, and as he focuses on her, his quest for revenge is slowly forgotten. When Gilan suggests Will take Maddie on a mission, Will accepts without reluctance.
Gilan assigns Will and Maddie to investigate the death of Liam, a Ranger in a northwestern fief. Will and Maddie soon discover a plot by an illicit slave ring who kidnap children. The criminals first send a storyteller to villages and frightens the children with a story about the "Stealer in the Night", who takes children who aren't quiet about the Stealer. Will learns that the Stealer in the Night—the leader of the slave ring—is actually Jory Ruhl, but he manages to set aside his revenge to save the children Ruhl has kidnapped. Will and Maddie go to the slavers' camp, where Will distracts the criminals, while Maddie frees the slaves. Unfortunately, while Maddie is successful in freeing the children, Will is captured, and he is to be burned at the stake. Maddie saves Will, but is injured in the process as a javelin catches her in her leg. Will manages to kill Ruhl and treat Maddie's wounds, albeit with severe cramps from when he was tied to the stake.
Maddie is awarded her bronze oakleaf, and Cassandra offers her reinstatement as a princess. However, Maddie declines, saying she wishes to complete her apprenticeship instead. Cassandra is stunned, and the series concludes as Horace explains to her that Rangers have always been different. When Cassandra asks what she should do, Horace replies, "Say yes."
- Alyss (Mentioned only)
- Liam (Mentioned only)
- Madelyn (Maddie)
- King Duncan
- Jory Ruhl
- The Royal Ranger will be the final book in the Ranger's Apprentice series but John Flanagan will continue with the Brotherband series. Book 4 will come out Summer 2014.
- John Flanagan stated in an interview that the final book of the series will tell the story of Will's first apprentice being the first female ranger.
- In a letter sent to a fan, John Flanagan also stated that the book will take place 16 years after And About Time Too...