I have to admit that I was reluctant at first to start reading the Ranger’s Apprentice. My wife had brought home book two in the set just as I was needing to start a new book with the kids. I had wanted to find a historical fiction novel like Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. However my oldest son had purchased the third book and he was excited for me to read the series. (advice – let your wife influence you in everything)
We started with book two because it was the first one we had. I have to admit, it started off slow but by a few chapters into the book it was really holding the kids interest. The words flow nicely and the story is engaging but not too complex. By the time we finished the second book we where ready for book three.
Something happened at this point. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) came out. I took my older daughters and we stood in line to get the book. The girls, twins, were old enough that this time it became more of a battle about who was going to read the book first; not me read out loud to them. This was a turning point. The girls loved to read and were now reading on their own.
After this I stopped reading for a while. Then the other day my oldest son asked, “Dad, why did you stop reading? When are you going to read to us again?” I started that very night. We started reading The Icebound Land – book three. The Icebound Land is a grabber from the start. Of course we knew the story from book two and the stories flow into each other more than they are separate books.
About half way through I was surprised that John Flanagan introduced more of an adult theme into the book. The main charter, Will, becomes addicted to a narcotic. I do not want to give away more about the book but as you are selecting this book as a possible book to read to your family you may want to consider if all of your children are old enough to understand addiction.
My kids have heard me talk about addiction. I work with adolescents who have used substances. I do recommend that you talk to your kids about this topic when you are done reading so you can see how they are experiencing the book and the topic. I also think reading this book would be a good time for you to do some teaching about addiction and life experiences.
In general The Icebound Land is a fantasy book that has some of the same themes as Lord of the Rings, namely young heroes, older guides, and a journey of risk and self discovery.
My recommendation is:
- The book is a 8.5 out of 10
- The writing is easy to understand
- The books flows well
- Holds attention
- Addiction is a major part of the story
- Ends abruptly and you will want to move onto book 4 right away.