Dec 22, 2010

The Burning Bridge (Ranger's Apprentice, book 2), by John Flanagan

.Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

We met Will in John Flanagan's first Ranger's Apprentice book, The Ruins of Gorlan. It's time to meet the new, improved, courageous, selfless, Will in book 2, The Burning Bridge. He is sent on a special mission with his friend, Horace, and the Ranger, Gilan. Their mission is prolonged when signs of Morgorath's domination crop up in deserted cities, armies of Wargals, and mysterious tunnels and bridges. When Gilan leaves to take these reports back to the king, Will is placed in charge. But that role forces him to make decisions more difficult and dangerous than he or Horace ever imagined.

After book 2, I'm starting to really like Will. In book 1, he's a nice boy that the reader cares about a little. But book 2 takes him to a whole new level and I applaud Flanagan's increased character development. I feared Will may stay a slightly fearful, half-wimp through the entire series. I was wrong (thank heavens) and I see much promise for him.
In The Burning Bridge, the reader encounters Morgarath (evil lord) on a more personal level--his looks of hatred, his black armor, and the evil armies that follow (and try to escape) him. Now the reader has someone to fear, which makes the reader root for Will. It's getting more personal and I already want book 3. Book 1, (The Ruins of Gorlan), left me content, not dying to read on. But The Burning Bridge ended with a cliff-hanger and I'm cursing the empty bookshelf (I'm on vacation, you see. My bookshelf at my house is never empty) already planning to track down The Icebound Land at first chance.

Flanagan steps up the violence in this book (arrows to the throat, spear through the body, dagger in the heart, etc), but it remains at an age-appropriate level (aka. non-descriptive). What fantasy/adventure book is complete without an end battle? One set-back, like the first book, is the language. The "D" word is used more often as well as phrases with God's name and "what the h**l". John Flanagan is from Australia and I do not know the Australian culture. These phrases may be commonly used and accepted in Australia, but if you are a parent or reader concerned about any level of language in a book, be aware that The Burning Bridge (and I'm assuming the entire series) uses it often in common dialogue. I will say, however, that I approve of Flanagan's choice of words like "brouhaha" and "nincompoop" (and you should, too. They're funny).

Different religions are mentioned in passing, such as worshiping the gods of fire and iron (pg. 67). Other than that and the "code of chivalry" for knights, God is nonexistant (*sad face*). Also, as in book 1, violence is encouraged by a Ranger and reaches a level past what I would allow it to reach (if I were a Ranger). Lastly, I got a bit lost in some of the names--there are several characters, but I found if I just made sure I knew Will, Halt, Horace, and Gilan, I fared pretty well.

I give this book a neutral recommendation. I personally enjoyed it, but probably won't re-read it. I am hesitant to recommend it to younger readers mainly due to the use of language (even if it on the mild side). But if you do choose to read it, I still suggest the Australian book cover. I can't get over how much better it is than the American one.

Violence Level: ***(a bit more in this book, but still remains appropriate).

Romance Level: **
Christian Focus: *
Readability Level: ** (Grows a bit, but still a little too easy.)
Story Depth Level: ***
Recommendation: ***(please see the 6-Point Nutshell)

For a more detailed explanation of the above ratings, visit the 6-Point Nutshell post.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releases 2014 from Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at

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