Will, the hero of The Ruins of Gorlan, could probably have been taken in entirety from any number of authors who have written this sort of children’s/YA stuff, but for me it was like I was 13 years old and reading Magician’s Apprentice by Raymond Feist. That is high praise because I read that book over and over until the cover literally fell off and the binding no longer held the pages together. Will is an orphan who has grown up around a noble’s keep and lived with his support. He is nothing special to speak of in his own estimation and he has goals of becoming a warrior and a hero. His history is touched on briefly and it leads nicely into later parts of the plot.
Will is not selected according to his wishes to be a warrior, but is chosen as an Apprentice to the local Ranger — a man of great mystery to the people of the keep. The story progresses as Will learns to not only respect but also admire the Ranger who is his mentor. Will’s unique talents and abilities begin to manifest themselves as he is shaped and trained.
The story is written in simple enough terms that a younger reader can get through it without difficulty, but is has enough excitement and adventure for a more mature reader to also enjoy. I found the contrasting characters and much of the story to be reminiscent of other things that I had read, but instead of feeling like it was copied, it felt more like well used ground that is tried and true for a good story.
I really enjoyed the ride back through youthful fantasy and will probably read the next couple of books as well in order to make sure that my son, who is now reading Ranger’s Apprentice, is not biting into subject material that grows beyond his maturity.