This book is the 11th in the Ranger’s Apprentice series by Australian author John Flanagan. This book answers many questions he has had over the years from readers and tells the stories about what happened after Will’s return from Nihon-Ja in the form of a collection of short stories. The book also includes a story about who Will’s parents were and how he became to be a ward in Redmount in the first place. Though the series is advertised as the reader being able to read the books in any order, it is advisable to read the preceding books beforehand, unless you want spoilers.
For me, I have read this book after only reading the first 4 and then getting only part way through book 5, getting the samples of the other books on my Kindle then deciding that having already given myself spoilers by reading the samples, I might as well buy this book on my Kindle. Even so, this book is very enjoyable and easily readable, encompassing the wit and humour, the adventure and the excellent fight scenes that readers have come to expect from this series. I found myself getting sucked in further and further by this book then having to force myself to put it aside just in case I miss my stop when sitting on the bus. I also had to put it aside because I kept laughing out loud on the bus.
The stories include what happened to Gilan during the events of book 3 (The Icebound Land), the weddings of certain characters, what happens when Ranger horses get past a certain age and also how Halt came to join the Rangers Corp and some of his background.
The only thing I would criticise about this collection of stories is the fact that Flanagan seems to skim over certain details, certain events (especially during the wedding ceremonies) to get to the scenes with more action and more interesting story. This I felt was a shame and is the only drawback to the stories in my opinion.
Otherwise, this book and it’s stories is a great and fun read for fans of the series. It is aimed more at younger readers who might have just started getting more confident at reading and started reading alone but even as an adult, I do thoroughly enjoy his writing. For newcomers to the series, it would probably be best read after reading a few of the earlier books beforehand so as to understand how the world is set up (based upon Medieval Britain) and what the various organisations (such as the Rangers Corp) actually do, their skills, etc. but it is still a highly recommended book to read, providing you don’t mind the odd spoiler or two if you haven’t read all the earlier stories.