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Summary: "The Ruins of Gorlan" by John Flanagan

Chris enjoys helping his children grow and develop into better people with a desire to continue to gain knowledge and enjoy life.

Summary of "The Ruins of Gorlan"

My hope is that this article will help others understand what the book covers in a simple summary of the book as well as what the book may teach the reader. If you are looking for a book to start someone on the journey into more developed novels and series, this is a great book and series to start with.


Ranger's Apprentice: The Ruins of Gorlan

This book introduced the kingdom of Araluen, specifically in the Redmont Fief and explains a kingdom that parallels the fief system of the European Middle Ages.

Fifteen years prior to the introduction, Morgarath tried to rebel and take over the kingdom. Defeated, he was exiled out of the kingdom and his fief was torn down. His time for revenge and conquest has returned as he sets his plan in motion to take over Araluen.

The Ruins of Gorlan shows the development of relationships for Will, a ward of the Fief whose mother died during birth and father was killed in the war with Morgarath. There are dynamic relationships with all of Will's ward mates: Horace, Jenny, Alyss, and George. They have come to the age for them to choose their future trades.

Rejected Dreams

While all the other ward kids are accepted into the school of their desire, Will is rejected but because of his curious nature, natural abilities, and acceptance of responsibility for his choices he gain the offer to become a Ranger.

Little is known about the Rangers and many commoners believe them to be magicians to be avoided and feared. Will gains an invaluable mentor named Halt. A rather famous Ranger who was essential in defeating Morgarath fifteen years ago.

Will and Horace grew up as rivals—Will's quick wit insulting Horace while Horace bullied Will physically. Horace has the tables turned on him in Battle School by several older cadets who bully him and he grows resentful as time goes on. This leads to a fight and hatred between the two boys during a local festival.

I like Ruins of Gorlan because of all the action. The book always kept me anticipating what would happen next, and I felt like I was there because of all the details.

— Ella (my daughter)

Life Lessons

While being trained to become a Ranger, Halt and Will discover a dangerous boar in the area causing damage to local farms. Recruiting help from the fief lord and several knights and Battle School cadets, the boar is tracked down to eliminate the threat and harvest the meat for a feast.

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The first boar was killed, enraging a second boar that the group had been unaware of its presence. Horace attempts to kill the second boar and fails, risking being killed only to be saved by Will. While the boar charges Will, it is slain by Halt just before Will is killed. Will and Horace are commended on their bravery and their reputations spread about the area as local heroes.

This shows the kids what public attention feels like and how to handle it. Also, that the hatred they felt for each other was misplaced. Horace attempts to protect Will from his three bullies when they feel like Will slighted the Battle School.

The three bullies soundly defeat Horace, Will gives them a slightly harder time because of his Ranger tactics. But Halt shows up to even the odds and forces the bullies to face Horace one at a time, Horace showing he is quite gifted and easily defeats the bullies.

There are positive consequences and negative consequences that are a result of this event, all quite realistic for the time and it continues a smooth character development.


Halt and Will begin to investigate the deaths of several high members of the kingdom. Discovering that they were killed by creatures called Kalkara. Terrible creatures that are powerful and hard to defeat in battle.

The ranger and his apprentice track these two beasts until Will is ordered to ride to Redmont Castle for reinforcements to deal with these two beasts. Will uses his training and anticipates what is needed altering the original plans. The head of the Battle School, Sir Rodney, and the lord of the fiefdom, Baron Arald.

Halt is badly injured while delaying for time and trying to battle the two Kalkara alone. Sir Rodney and Baron Arald manage to knock one into a fire killing it but both are incapacitated throughout the entire fight and Will kills the last one, saving them all. Again, adding to his local reputation of being brave and heroic.

Lessons in the Book

The following are several reasons why I hoped my daughter would enjoy this book.

  • The character development is extremely real and deals with self-image issues that kids deal with on a daily basis.
  • Develops multiple character types for other children to associate with.
  • Teach responsibility and consequences to actions can be good and/or bad.
  • People dealing with bad situations gracefully and raising above it to make things better.
  • That dreams and goals may change and being flexible in life is a positive attribute.

The Ruins of Gorlan


In 2004, The Ruins of Gorlan won the Aurealis Award for Excellence in Speculative Fiction. Then in 2005 it received the Children's Book Council of Australia Notable Book. This book was also nominated for The Grand Canyon Reader Award in 2008.

© 2018 Chris Andrews

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