| Spoiler Alert!
Warning! This page contains spoilers for The Ruins of Gorlan.
|The Ruins of Gorlan|
|Publisher:||Random House (Australia)|
Philomel (United States)
|Cover Artist:||John Blackford|
|Publication Date (AU):||1st November 2004|
|Media Type:||Paperback (Australia)|
Paperback, Hardcover (United States)
249 (United States)
|Followed by:||The Burning Bridge|
Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan, the first book of the Ranger's Apprentice series, begins when Halt, a skilled Ranger, agrees to train Will, an orphan whose father was killed in war. Will learns how to fight enemies effectively, either by shooting them down with a recurve bow, or by engaging with them in close combat. Morgarath, a Baron who was banished long ago, is planning his revenge upon the kingdom of Araulen. He unleashes two dangerous beasts, the Kalkara, which Will, Halt and Gilan (Halt's previous apprentice) are assigned to track down and defeat.
Morgarath, the exiled lord of the bleak, barren Mountains of Rain and Night, has been waiting for fifteen years in his dark realm, carefully planning his revenge against the Kingdom of Araluen. His old fief, known as Gorlan Fief, had been destroyed.
Morgarath has been confident on an easy victory against King Duncan in his first rebellion, because the previous ruler had recently died and his the new one was young and inexperienced. However, with the help of several experienced army commanders, (including Halt) the rebellion was swiftly crushed and the renegade lord exiled to the southern mountains for fifteen years. Now, as the years passed, he was silently plotting, rallying creatures known as Wargals to his side. The Wargals had little will of their own, and were easy to control, therefore being suitable as soldiers in Morgarath’s army. Now, after the fifteen years, Morgarath prepared to unleash his power and attempt to take the kingdom once more.
In Araulen, the fief of Redmont was bright and lively. The castle buzzed with activity, as it, along with many other fiefs in the area, hosted various educational opportunities for young learners. In the Ward of the castle, several orphans sat together, waiting anxiously for the next day, Choosing Day. This was when children of around fifteen were selected as apprentices to the Craftmasters, special tutors for the students. Will, one of the orphans, was the only one particularly worried. He hoped to be accepted into Battleschool, but he was too small and was therefore unlikely to be accepted. All his companions, Horace, Alyss, Jenny, and George were confident they were to be accepted in to their seperate studies: Battleschool (Horace), Diplomatic Service (Alyss), Cooking School (Jenny), and Scribeschool (George), respectively. It turned out that all of them had demonstrated competence in their preference and were accepted.
Will had no idea who his parents were, hence he had no surname, meaning he was given no special treatment because of parentage. All he knew was that his father had died in a battle and his mother had died giving birth to him.
Horace, who was antagonistic towards Will got into a verbal fight with him which was about to turn physical when Will ran, knowing from experience that he didn't stand much of a chance against Horace in a fist fight as Horace was larger and stronger than him. As Will goes Horace hurls an insult after him, calling him "Will no-name," an insult which hurts the most for the young ward. Will, wanting to get away, climbs up a large tree in the courtyard where he stays until everyone has left for bed so he can be alone to think.
On the Choosing Day all the wards assemble in on of Castle Redmont's halls and are each briefly interviewed and "sized up" by the craftmasters, each of the wards gets the apprenticeship they wanted until Will's turn comes. Will asks to become a battleschool member. In the end he was not accepted into Battleschool or his second choice, Horseschool; leaving him very disappointed, he is then rejected by each of the other craftmasters.
However, Halt, the Ranger, came in and raised Will’s hopes slightly by simply handing Baron Arald a paper, which caused the Baron to tell Will to wait until morning for the Baron’s decision. But the inquisitive Will couldn’t wait and decided to sneak into the Baron’s office by using his agility and speed to sneak past the Baron’s guards, and then climb up the Baron’s study. This maneuver was unsuccessful, as Halt anticipated this and was waiting for him. However, Will’s fears as he was caught were groundless, as he was not punished, but appointed to be Halt’s apprentice to train as a Ranger.
Will’s first 'lesson' consisted of purely doing housework for Halt. As he works, Halt would often give him “encouragement” which was purely curt remarks on how to do his work. Will’s day, however, was relatively pleasant compared to Horace’s.
Meanwhile, Horace has believed Battleschool to be fun and glorious, but the first lesson was purely grueling exercises. Running, weights, and all sorts of demanding exercises occupied the entire day. And to top it off, three second-year students had begun bullying him.
A few lessons on, Halt began showing Will the types of weapons used by Rangers. Rangers relied mainly on stealth to attack, and therefore did not usually carry long, heavy weapons such as swords or spears. Instead, for long range attacking, they used bows. A full-grown Ranger, such as Halt himself, used a tall longbow. But Will, already small for his age, used a smaller one, but with extra power, known as the recurve bow, appropriately named for the opposite-direction bends at the end to provide power.
In case of confrontation, the Rangers used small blades. Rangers carried a small knife and a longer blade. The smaller blade was primarily used for throwing, but could be used in combat. The long blade was chiefly for close combat, and was known as the Saxe Knife. The blades were of hardened steel and much surpassed the quality of the other blades used in the world.
Horace’s lessons were getting more interesting, but the bullies, Alda, Byrn, and Jerome, seemed to have their lives centered on making Horace miserable.They pestered him around the clock and tortured him relentlessly until he was beat up, weak, and miserable. He excelled in physical lessons, but was falling behind in the written assignments so sir Rodney is considering dismissing Horace from battle school.
Sir Rodney and other senior knights recognised Horace's natural ability with the sword during a training session in the battleschool yard. Sir Rodney is impressed by this and considers giving the boy extra lessons under the senior swordmaster in two months, long enough for him to decide whether Horace will be suited for this, Sir Rodney is admittedly a little puzzled at Horace, for though he shows signs of being a great knight, his work is handed in later a sloppy and he is often bruised and battered; he is unaware of Horace being bullied and Horace doesn't tell anyone about his problems believing the bullying process is a normal part of battleschool.
Will was rapidly improving in his lessons with Halt. He soon received his own horse, named Tug, from a man named Old Bob. Rangers’ horses were trained not to respond to anyone unless they said a predetermined phrase in the horse’s ear. Tug’s phrase was “do you mind?”, while it is also mentioned that Halt's horse's command is permettez moi, Gallic for "will you allow me?". Once an owner said the phrase, then the horse would serve its new master at any cost. Rangers’ horses were far faster than the larger ones used by the army, despite (or maybe because of) being small.
Will and Halt stay at the stables for the night whilst Old Bob teaches Will how to look after Tug, a duty which Will takes seriously.
On the Harvest Day that year, the students that once lived together got back together for a picnic. Jenny, who had learned cooking from the castle cook, prepared a batch of mince pies for her friends and organized for them to meet up. But Horace did not show up until late into the picnic, and was extremely ill-tempered from the bullies’ torture, this was aggravated when he saw his ward-mates laughing and generally having a good time and eating without him, not realising that they had set aside some pies for him. He lashed out at his former friends with unkind words. Will begins to fight with Horace until the Battlemaster, Sir Rodney, swooped in and caught them then forced them to apologize.
Six weeks later and the ground is covered in snow and Will is out practicing tracking with Halt. Will suddenly spots a strange track that he hasn't seen before Halt can tell that it is a boar that made the track,a creature which is rare in this is part of Araluen. They find a farmer in the woods and tell him to inform Arald of this animal.
Horace was asked to join the hunt by Sir Rodney as he'd never seen one before. Meanwhile, Halt and Will tracked the boar to the lair where they later were joined by the Baron, Sir Rodney, the knights and the hunting dogs. The dogs flushed the boar out of the lair and it thundered towards one of the knights.
The boar lashed out at the soldier, who immediately impaled it on a long spear, killing it. But little did they realize that there was a second, even larger boar in wait. This one attacked Horace, who had come on the trip. The boar nearly skewered him, but was stopped by Will, who shot the boar. The arrow did not hit a vital area, nor did he mean it to; his only purpose was to distract the boar. As the boar charged at Will, Halt reacted and shot the boar right in the heart.
This event caused Horace to make up with Will, feeling gratitude for Will’s actions. But the three bullies weren’t so pleasant. On the contrary, they immediately found Horace and beat him into semi-consciousness, accusing him of belittling Battleschool’s reputation by requiring a Ranger’s apprentice to step in and save him. But the bullies did not feel any gratitude for Will either. After finishing with Horace, they found Will and attempted to beat him down as well, only to meet Horace, who had dutifully come to return the favor that Will had done him. Although the bullies attempted to attack, Halt stepped in and caught all three of them, allowing Horace to beat them up one at at time, and them reporting them to Sir Rodney. Following this incident, the three bullies were kicked out of Battleschool and Redmont Fief itself, and told to never return. Horace's lot then improves considerably at the Battleschool.
He wants to thank Will and Halt but by the time he got out of the infirmary where he'd been recovering from his injuries sustained in the beating by the bullies he found out that Will and Halt had already left for the Ranger Gathering.
Near the end of the year, the Gathering took place, where all the Rangers met and exchanged news. Halt introduced Will to his former apprentice Gilan, who was bright with a great sense of humor, quite the contrary to his former master, who was always grim and rarely smiled. At the Gathering, they received a report that the Kalkara, vicious creatures that Morgarath had managed to rally, were at large. There were three Kalkara in the world, and only one had been successfully slain, and it was by the combined efforts of three knights that the beast was finally defeated.
Two knights died in the attempt, and the surviving one was crippled for life. Arrows usually did no lasting damage to them, as they were small, not nearly sufficient to penetrate the Kalkara’s thick skin. The only weapons likely to work were heavy ones carried by knights. Halt mentioned that a good thrust with a long spear would probably do the trick, or a solid blow with a broadsword or battleaxe. And also, one of their greatest fears was fire. But before anyone could get close enough to stab a Kalkara, they would usually be stopped by its gaze, which instantly petrified anyone who looked in its eyes, becoming easy prey for the creatures. That was the main reason teamwork was crucial in slaying one. Halt decided that he would lead a mission to go and kill the Kalkara.
After a few days of riding, they decided that one of them should report back to Castle Redmont and deliver the news. They chose Will, using both Tug and Gilan’s horse Blaze to go back as quickly as possible. He alternated between the two horses to prevent one of them getting too tired.
The Baron, Sir Rodney, and several others led a group of soldiers to attempt to slay the Kalkara. Meeting the Rangers, they followed the tracks to the ruins of Gorlan. The battle began. before Sir Rodney, Baron Arald and Will arrived, Halt fired a volley of arrows into the Kalkara, but it charged, smashing Halt’s bow and clawing a gash into his leg. When Halt used his saxe knife, the blade glanced off and fell out of reach. Halt then fled into the darkness to buy time to recover. Eventually, the Ranger glanced at the monster coming at him, and shut his eyes to avoid the petrifying glare, using only memory to guide the small knife he threw. The blade struck home right in the beast’s eye. He ran to save himself, but after the first beast was killed the second one knocked him unconscious. The Baron and Sir Rodney charged at the Kalkara, whirling weapons. Baron Arald used a broadsword, swinging it into its neck.
The Kalkara, though half-blind, avoided the blow and clawed several gashes into Arald’s back. Sir Rodney rushed forward and smashed his battle-axe into the creature’s side. The creature’s skin blocked the blow, and it turned, staring Rodney full into the face. Sir Rodney stared motionless as though transfixed, but in reality terrified. Will, who had been watching a distance away, acted instinctively and lit an arrow on fire. He shot the arrow right into the Kalkara’s chest, setting it on fire. The Kalkara slowly burned, and then toppled before exploding in a massive jet of fire.
Later, Will was asked to attend a meeting with Baron Arald, this meeting consisted of being publicly thanked in front of a massive hall of the various courtiers at Redmont Fief which initially scares Will who has been brought up in the Ranger way, to never be in the centre of attention.
He spoke about Will’s deeds and announced that Will could transfer to Battleschool. He brought in a sword and shield, for Will to use when he graduated. But Will remembered Halt, Tug, and all the other things he had accomplished as a Ranger. He refused and announced to remain a Ranger.
Later that day, Halt gives Will his bronze oakleaf even though he should only technically be given it after being assessed at the Ranger Gathering but Halt comments that all things considered Will has more than earned it. Will is a little unsure about his decision still believing is father to have been a knight and is unsure whether is deceased parent would have approved of his decision.
Halt then tells Will about his long-since-deceased father, Daniel. He told that he had stepped out of the battle line to save a wounded comrade, armed with only a spear. He said that when he killed the first Wargal, a second sliced off the head of the spear. Daniel continued fighting with the shaft like a quarterstaff. Eventually, he succumbed to his wounds, but not before informing the comrade of his wife, and his unborn son. After he died, the soldier ran to save Daniel’s wife, but she died giving birth. It was there that Halt revealed that the wounded comrade that Daniel had saved was Halt himself.
Halt then tells Will that even though his father was just a sergeant and not a proper knight that he should still be proud of him for is bravery, courage and leadership. Will is reassured and smiling at Halt says that he believes his father would have been proud of him.
Gallery for the the Ruins of Gorlan .
Gallery for other pictures such as wallpapers etc.