Teen Volunteer Book Review: The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

Book Review by Rachel Johnson

Rachel is fifteen years old and currently a 2021 Summer Teen Volunteer

    When I picked up The Ruins of Gorlan, I did it to escape the constant heckling of my school librarian. According to her, the book was infinite in virtue and would never be praised enough.

    Right off the start, the author caught my attention with his – shall we say interesting – writing. Take the first line for example:

“Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, former Baron of Gorlan in the Kingdom of Araluen, looked out over his bleak, rain-swept domain and, for perhaps the thousandth time, cursed,” – Flanagan pg 1.

That quote gives you a pretty good idea of what the rest of the book is written like. The dialect is interesting and is not unrealistic. Even though the book is set in feudal times, the book is never hard to read and is easy to follow. 

    The Ruins of Gorlan is an exciting adventure that I couldn’t put down. The book starts with an orphan named Will, hoping he is chosen to be a knight, like his father. Though that wish is not fulfilled, he does find happiness being trained to become a ranger by Halt,the mysterious man who lives in the forest. Then Morgarath, lord of a whole bunch of depressing stuff – as was shown in the quote – hatches an evil plot and Will and Halt team up with a few side characters to take care of it. The ending was riveting and plausible. Let’s just say Will got his chance to save the day and prove himself, and leave it at that. 

    Not only is the book interesting, it also encourages hard work. Will starts out with nothing and no one, but through working hard to become a Ranger, he gains skills, admiration, and a few close friends. Will doesn’t get all that stuff for free – he has to study and practice with his bow and knives to earn his triumph. 

    In The Ruins of Gorlan even the side characters are interesting. Firstly there is Alyss, who trains to become prominent in the diplomatic service. She is interesting, strong, and witty. Horace takes Will’s dream and makes it become a reality for himself. He struggles through Battleschool, and truly has a hero’s journey as surely as Will does. He starts out bullying Will, then after joining Battleschool and working harder than ever before, he has a few adventures with Will and they end up as best friends. Halt is perhaps the most interesting of the side characters. He starts out as grumpy and enigmatic. Then through Will’s young and cheerful influence, he becomes cheerful and begins to love Will like a son. One of the most interesting plot lines in the story is Will discovering Halt’s mysterious past.

    I enjoyed this book a lot and owe a big thank you to my school librarian. Even though I might not have enjoyed it quite as much as she did, I still liked it a lot. Since reading the first book, I read the whole series and found each of the books to be just as – if not more interesting than the first. I would recommend this book to anyone who can read and is older than ten.

FYI: There was a little action and violence, but no more than one might expect in a fantasy adventure.