Halt’s Peril: Not much plot, like middle WOT

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fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsHalt’s Peril by John Flanagan children's fantasy audiobook reviewsHalt’s Peril by John Flanagan

Halt’s Peril is the ninth book in John Flanagan’s RANGER’S APPRENTICE series. It’s a direct sequel to the eighth book, The Kings of Clonmel, in which we learned Halt’s backstory while he, Will and Horace attempted to save the country of Clonmel from Tennyson, a cult leader who was planning a coup. They did manage to save Clonmel, but now Tennyson and his followers have left the country and our heroes suspect that they are on their way to Araluen with similar intentions. So, naturally, they plan to track down the bad guys and stop them before they can bring grief to Araluen. During the process, however, Halt receives a life-threatening injury. Will has to make a long detour to seek help for Halt.

To get straight to the point, Halt’s Peril is the first RANGER’S APPRENTICE book during which I finally started to suspect that Flanagan is milking this series for all it’s worth. There is so little plot to this story. It feels like an extension of the previous book and it all takes place during a very short period of time. Nothing new happens until about halfway through the book and most of the plot involves travelling, which gets pretty dull. I think this book contains the longest ride on horseback that I’ve ever read.

There are a few bright spots in Halt’s Peril: some picturesque scenery, an emotional scene in which Will and Horace find out how much Halt cares for them, and a sweet final scene. It is interesting to watch Will and Halt do Ranger things such as working together in the forest to track the villains and set up an ambush. As expected in a story that features these three characters, there is plenty of humorous banter, which is what Flanagan does best. But even this is starting to get repetitive and predictable (e.g., Halt getting teased for being seasick, Horace taking everything literally, Horace asking if they can see him when he’s wearing a Ranger cloak, etc.).

Halt’s Peril reminded me a little of a middle WHEEL OF TIME novel. You know, one of those ones where you read 1000 pages and realize that nothing has happened? Well, ok, Halt’s Peril isn’t that bad, but I did think of WOT while reading it. That’s not what we’ve come to expect from Flanagan. We expect fast-paced action-packed stories. This entire story could have been condensed to about 25% of its length and added onto a condensed version of the previous book, The Kings of Clonmel. Then it might have met the standard set by the exciting first few books in this series.

Readers who just want to ride horses and eat stew with Will, Halt and Horace will probably enjoy Halt’s Peril. Those hoping for a more complicated plot with lots of action and suspense may be disappointed.

John Keating continues to give an excellent performance in the audiobook version of RANGER’S APPRENTICE.


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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One comment

  1. “Longest horseback ride in history!”

    It must be difficult to keep a series going, even when you started off loving your characters and your world.

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