For all that it is the twelfth and last book
in a young adult fantasy series, I have to say this read remarkably well. It had a
beginning, a middle and an end, and I had little trouble getting into it. The major
characters were well-developed, and the author puts words together in an easy flow.
The plot is simple enough. Rebellious young princess, instead of being
married off like the average medieval royal offspring, is apprenticed to a Ranger. Much of
the first half of the book revolves around her training and maturation into a civilised
human being, learning important lessons about the consequences of her actions such
as getting drunk. The latter half focuses on her first mission as an apprentice, and the
rescue of the kidnapped kids.
Flanagans world was easy to get into
perhaps too easy. Too
simplistic in too many ways, too fraught with anachronisms, and altogether too derivative.
There is a clear lack of imagination and depth in world design when you have
Iberian slavers speaking what is plainly Spanish, abducting children to be
taken to Socorro. Medieval fantasy worlds dont have restaurants or the
germ theory of disease, they dont even have teenagers
that concept is a
twentieth century invention. The Rangers are far too reminiscent of the Heralds of
Valdemar, right down to the talking horses
Of course, none of these flaws will prevent the intended audience from
loving the book. And it is certainly an enjoyable read, with plenty to commend it. I just
happen to think that young people deserve better. (Oh, and for those who are curious about
such things, you can find the world map on line here).