The Siege of Macindaw: Fans won’t care about the flaws

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Siege of Macindaw by John Flanagan Children's fantasy audiobook reviewsThe Siege of Macindaw by John Flanagan

This review will contain a few plot spoilers for previous books in the series.

The Siege of Macindaw is book six of John Flanagan’s RANGER’S APPRENTICE series and it’s a direct sequel to the previous book, The Sorcerer of the North. When we left Will at the end of that book, his girlfriend Alyss had been captured and imprisoned in Castle Macindaw by a man who has allied himself with the Scotti, invaders from the north who plan to use the castle to get a toe-hold in Araluen. Now Will must use all his wits and resources to get Alyss out of the castle while saving his country from the Scotti invaders.

The solution to Will’s problem seemed obvious to me right from the start, so the plot of The Siege of Macindaw fell out pretty much like I expected it would. Fortunately Horace shows up to help (we knew he was on his way in the last book, so this isn’t a spoiler) and this adds some levity. It became obvious in the previous book that Flanagan is at his best when he puts his protagonists together, so I was glad when Horace arrived. There are a few funny scenes involving Will and Horace together, and a group of Skandians also provide amusement.

There are a couple of sloppy spots in the plot. One is in chapter 16, which is written from Will’s perspective. At the beginning of this scene, Will is watching Gundar rise “out of the bushes beside the track, rather like a whale surfacing.” In book three (The Icebound Land), we learned that Will had never heard of a whale and didn’t believe Svengal when he told Will that whales are giant fish that breathe air through a hole in their heads. I suppose it’s possible that by this time in his life Will has seen a whale surfacing, but if so, we haven’t heard about it. Flanagan tends to hop heads occasionally, which could also explain the thought about the whale (e.g., it didn’t come from Will’s head), but I think head-hopping is sloppy, too.

But fans of this series (and I’m one of them) aren’t really going to care about the whale or the head hopping. All they really care about is what will happen to Alyss, Will, Horace, and the dog. The story is fun, though there are some slow spots, a few action sequences that go on too long, and some predictability in the plot. The ending is bittersweet and satisfying.

In my review of the previous book, The Sorcerer of the North, I mentioned that I was surprised that Flanagan had skipped a few years of Will’s apprenticeship. Well, other fans must have agreed with me because book seven, Erak’s Ransom, goes back in time and takes place after the events of book four, The Battle for Skandia. If I had realized this sooner, I would have waited on The Sorcerer in the North and The Siege of Macindaw.

The audio version narrated by John Keating continues to be excellent.


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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 and conducts brain research 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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