So, I listened to this entire series (including the lost stories) and I really enjoyed it. The details given to things like stealth and archery discipline was really enjoyable. The full character development that the main characters experience was excellent and you really feel like you are growing up with them throughout the series.
However, be prepared to spend 2 credits for every story after the first one. Yes, the books are just 1 credit each, but starting in book 2, you only get half of a story in each book. That was very annoying, but the books were long enough and I got some credits/books on sale so it was still worth it.
I feel like this book is the only one that stands on its own as a complete story.
I like the narrator for this (Keating), but I prefer the alternate narrator (Stuart Blinder). Unfortunately, audible did not have all of the books narrated by him (only 2 and 5). So, I stuck with Keating even when I got to book 5 since the change was too jarring (different pronunciations and accents on characters).
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the medieval type fantasy genre with swords and bows. It is targeted toward the early to mid-teen age (I think) but I enjoyed it at twice that age. The language and the content is safe for family listening (depending on your tolerance for violence, it is full of action) so it would work well for family trips. It might be a little intense for listeners under 10. I'll let my kids listen to it in a couple of years (mine are 6 and 8 right now) but I doubt they will really enjoy it until they are a bit older.
I was looking for a book to play during family car trips. I thought this fantasy coming-of-age book would fit the bill.
There is a gem of a story in here, and paced nicely enough to keep you interested. This isn't the work of a polished author, yet there is real promise. The language can be a little stilted. There are more than a few holes, and some holes which the author evidently could not bridge without resorting to "here a miracle occurs". These are a mild distraction.
The narrator could use a lesson or two from Simon Vance or Bronson Pinchot... It doesn't seem to matter which character is speaking, you can never seem to picture anything but a British university student desperately trying to land a role in the summer stock production.
Distractions aside, I was pleased to see a story where the kid (hero) couldn't quite measure up to his own unrealistic expectations, and yet finds he is ideally suited to be a hero in his own right. I was also pleased to see interesting and engaging secondary characters whose aspiration was NOT to storm castles or slay the dragon.
in "On Writing," Stephen King describes adverbs as "dandelions" in the lawn of your writing, where one or two is pretty but too many turns your yard into a tangle of weeds.
In "Ruins of Gorlan," Flanagan uses adverbs in almost every dialogue attribution. Awkward ones, too. "She smiled brilliantly," "he said encouragingly," "he said cryptically," and my favorite, "he sighed resignedly."
If you don't mind that every earnest statement is said "earnestly" and every smile is done "winningly" or "prettily," you'll be okay.
We meet our hero Will on the day before his choosing day. Just like a hundred other YA books. All of his friends have painfully obvious vocations, all of their stereotyped talents aligned neatly in a row so that Will is the only character with teenage angst and confusion about his future.
Cooks are fat, warriors are strong, scribes are skinny and mouselike. Rangers are dark and mysterious. They enter the room "mysteriously."
This is that fantasy manuscript you tried to write when you were a sophomore in high school, where you gave up after you realized in chapter 4 that everything was a cliche and your writing was not refined enough yet.
In the choosing ceremony at the beginning, each craft master looks at a child "thoughtfully" and then accepts each child stereotyped to match their craft. The kids don't need to prove they have any particular type of skill, they're just picked, in grand regal ceremony, at a glance. Except for Will, because he's too small, and because he's the main character.
That's how far I made it: one hour. The story is probably charming and the characters might be likable, but I have to shrug my shoulders "resignedly," and shake my head "contemptuously," because the writing just isn't strong. It reads like a first draft.
In other news, Keating narrates this very "charmingly," and if you're looking for a stereotypical fantasy romp, this might be it.
Estate planning lawyer and mom to two boys. My older son liked audiobooks as an infant, and I've listened to a lot since then.
I would strongly recommend this. It was one of our favorite listens as a family.
It reminds me of the excitement my son felt about the Percy Jackson series, though of course the setting is quite different. I first bought it because of the medieval setting -- we have been listening to other books set in that period at my 10 year old's request, such as Castle Corona and some books by Avi. It has familiar Hero's Journey elements found in many novels, and the theme of the talent found in the unexpected place (here a boy who is small for his age), such as found in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
The narration was one of the best aspects. He has a pleasing voice and voices the different characters clearly without going over the top. The differences are subtle but we always know who is speaking. The Irish accent for Halt is especially fitting and adds to that character's compelling qualities.
Yes if I could have!
A great book for tween boys, but this middle-aged mom is liking it as well as her son. I've now got the teenage older brother listening too.
elementary school art teacher
Started with the first one and couldn't stop there! Wonderfully written and read. Nice combination of intensity, action, and description.
This is a good book. The characters are endearing and John Flanagan writes in a way that will keep you interested. The only issue I have is the length of the book. These short stories that are being passed off as novels and still costing a full credit just has to stop. This reflects more on Audible then it does the author. If he wants to write a short story then so be it... Audible needs to stop charging a full credit for them though...
This really felt like a classic fantasy novel. I really enjoyed how the author details and explains everything. He makes sure you understand the important details that the reader might otherwise miss.
When Will and halt are traveling near the flutes across the baron grassy plains. The author described the scene so well. That entire sequence leading up to the events at the ruins was awesome.
I don't want to give anything away, but the final two or three chapters really set the stage for the series.
The book has its low points that I felt drag on and parts that I felt were a bit childish (given its target audience I understand why). That being said I always wanted to see what adventure or challenge was next.
Even though this book is intended for younger readers I found it enjoyable as an older reader. There are parts that it is clear the author is trying to make sure the reader understands life lessons....which I find somewhat annoying, but I understand why he does it. I felt that the authors writing style grew stronger as the book progressed.
I highly recommend for anyone who enjoys a classic fantasy novel. I'm looking forward to reading more in the series.
Flanagan has written a book that makes you care about the characters from the get go.
Keating is the best at narrating these books. Only buy his versions!
Yes, I almost did!
I would listen to this story again. It is highly entertaining, fast-paced, and interesting. The entire series is excellent and good for all ages.
I love to listen to his voice! He does a great job on all of the books.
Yes! I listen to audio books in the car and sometimes I was tempted to stay in the car a little longer when I would pull up in my driveway just to hear what would happen next :)
This entire series is fun, action-packed, and easy to listen to. If you like clean, easy-read fiction, this book and series is for you and your kids!
Teacher, reader, listener! I am a southern lady with conservative views.
The storyline moves quickly, so there is no time to get board. The characters are nicely developed, and the plot leaves you wanting more. This was my first book by this author, but it certainly won't be my last!