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2,633594,201 (4.12)86
Chasing the Skandian slave-traders who kidnapped Will and Evanlyn, Ranger Halt and warrior student Horace find themselves in the frozen northern islands, where they battle a ruthless black-clad knight as they attempt to rescue their friends.
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I did not like Book 3 of the Ranger's Apprentice as much as the first two. Will's addiction to warmweed was disappointing. The Skandian Jarl Erak is developed as a good new character. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Not super excited about the amount of swearing in the book (an increase over the last two) but still really good... ( )
  mcsp | Jan 25, 2021 |
{Third of 11 (or 12); Ranger’s Apprentice series. Fantasy, children’s, YA} (2005)
Group read.

During the war against Morgarath, Will and one of his companions were captured and they now have to suffer a miserable journey sailing on board a wolfship to Skandia, the ice-bound land where a more miserable fate awaits them as slaves.

The first massive wave struck and the wolfship’s bow canted up at a terrifying angle. They began to rise up the face of the wave, then the ship faltered and began to slide – backwards and downwards! Svengal and Erak screamed at the rowers. Their voices were plucked away by the wind but the crew, their backs to the storm, could see and understand their body language. They heaved on the oars, bending the oak shafts with their efforts, and the backwards slide slowly eased. The ship began to claw its way up the face of the wave, rising higher and higher, moving more and more slowly until Will was sure they must begin the terrible backwards sliding motion again.

Then the crest of the wave broke and thundered over them.

Tonnes of water crashed onto the wolfship, driving it down, rolling it far over to the right until it seemed that it would never recover. Will screamed in absolute animal terror, then had the scream cut off as freezing salt water hammered against him, breaking his grip on the mast, filling his mouth and lungs and hurling him along the deck until the fragile cord brought him to a stop, swirling this way and that until the mass of water passed over and around him.


Meanwhile, Halt has sworn to find Will so he sets out with Horace by the land route traveling through an alternative Europe where Horace finds the customs very different from those of Araluen and that other people are a little bit more flexible than he is about the concept of knightly chivalry.

I found this a good continuation of the series and I like the way it expands on the original premise. It is a little bit darker but still (just about) within my comfort zone for my eleven year old to read (well, he already borrowed it last year from the school library). Our hero is downed shockingly quickly, but that can happen when circumstances turn against you.

As I’ve noted in my reviews for the previous books in the series, I like the writing style and the humour. (My reviews are getting shorter partly because I’m trying to avoid spoilers for previous books and partly because I’ve already covered the ground in the previous reviews.) One small quibble I have is the occasional pairs of adjectives that seem to contradict each other such as ‘an almost inaudible sigh carried clearly’ or ‘ringing hiss of steel on leather’; these have cropped up in all three books so far and usually give me a moment’s pause.

I’m still enjoying the series; they’re well written both for adult readers and the target age group (stated as 10+ on the back of my Corgi Yearling edition) but light enough that I can read them back to back - usually I have to have a break between books.

4 stars ( )
  humouress | May 3, 2020 |
I have to say that I did not enjoy this book as much as the previous two in the series.

Will and Evelyn/Cassandra are captured by Skandians and transported by ship, first to an island to ride out the storms and then to Skandia itself. I expected more escape attempts by Will (though perhaps needing to take Evelyn with him limited the number of things he could try, much as Horace being with Halt meant that Halt couldn't just escape Deparnieux and his men.)

Halt has sworn to go after Will but isn't permitted to do so. As another reviewer noted, I did guess what was behind Halt's crimes. Gillan also wants to go after Will, but Halt persuades him to stay behind and protect the kingdom in Halt's absence. Horace ends up traveling along with Halt.

I was disappointed that Will ended up addicted. It took a likable character out of the mix for much of this book. Depending on what age is reading this book, it may need to be a conversation point between the reader and the reader's parents.

I suspect that Will and Evelyn had impressed Erik at least somewhat during their voyage as captives since Erik is willing to help Evelyn and Will escape the castle in Skandia. I thought that showed some of Erik's character--and I wonder if that help will come back full circle in a future installment.

Deparnieux's rule by fear provides a chance to discuss the rules of chivalry and what they are meant to be vs. what they can become if misused. I didn't like the cages Deparnieux had.

I was saddened that Will didn't even seem to be contemplating possible ways to escape even when he was first assigned to "the yard". I was a bit surprised that Erik didn't attempt to get Will into some sector of the castle that dealt more with strategy since there was a remark about needing someone like Will to direct or oversee campaigns. I guess Will would have had trouble escaping with Evelyn since they had little contact once consigned to service, but I still think he would have more scoped out options than we saw. I can understand the work becoming harder to do in the cold and that it would become exhausting over time and that survival would overtake escaping, but . . . Will seemed to fall under the warmweed spell of addiction very quickly without realizing what was going on. He seemed too bright a young man to not catch on--though it appears the warmweed also affects the brain intelligence areas. I was glad to see Will come back at the very end. ( )
  JenniferRobb | Nov 10, 2019 |
Captured, Will and Evanlyn are taken to the cold treacherous Skandia. Will is a slave, Evanlyn is a servant, is there any hope in Skandia? Halt and Horace set out for their friend, but this time Halt does not harbour the silver oakleaf, will Halt ever see his apprentice again?

I really liked it because there's a lot of adventure and battle involved and a tiny bit of humour, but it is sad that Will is taken.

4 stars
(on behalf of firelion (age 10)) ( )
  firelion | Apr 3, 2019 |
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The wolfship was only a few hours from Cape Shelter when the massive storm hit them.
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Chasing the Skandian slave-traders who kidnapped Will and Evanlyn, Ranger Halt and warrior student Horace find themselves in the frozen northern islands, where they battle a ruthless black-clad knight as they attempt to rescue their friends.

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