Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Siege of Macindaw Review (John Flanagan)

Synopsis: The kingdom is in danger. Renegade knight Sir Keren has succeeded in overtaking Castle Macindaw and now is conspiring with the Scotti. The fate of Araluen rests in the hands of two young adventurers: the Ranger Will and his warrior friend, Horace. Yet for Will, the stakes are even higher. For inside Castle Macindaw, held hostage, is someone he loves.

Review: I liked this one better than The Sorcerer of the North. Despite the fact that Horace is present for all of it - and the Skandians, who were amusing when Halt was around, but just too . . . Vikingish otherwise. Be ready for the action to start immediately. The Siege of Macindaw picks up where The Sorcerer of the North leaves off. Things move at a good enough pace, the slower parts being lightened with Flanagan's typical jests between Horace and Will.

However, now I must criticize Mr. Flanagan. I really don't like to, because he is a nice fellow (I met him once at a book signing), but as a book critic - even an amateur one - I must point out pros and cons. And the con for this one is the same I have for The Battle for Skandia and The Burning Bridge: Flanagan is good at writing humor and good storylines, but he isn't cut out for battle sequences. Though Ranger's Apprentice is a fictional series, Flanagan did take some pains to do historical research of the time period that Araluan is based in - and also battle tactics (it is sad, though, that he didn't do more research on bows). Flanagan displays his research on sieges in various conversations between Will and Horace, and it is very interesting. But when it comes to writing actual battles - it is a muddle. Flanagan's writing is movie-ish, as I have said before, and when it comes to a battle, such writing style turns everything into a muddle. His technical side of descriptions logs things down, and giving perspectives from various characters is not a way a battle ought to be told. If one must write a battle, it ought to be done in an "aerial view" or as if a historian were relating it. Give formations and the whole, sometimes zoning in on specific areas when necessary.

This is harder to do than it sounds, and that's why I don't even try to write battles. And I am sorry to say that Flanagan suffers from the same difficulty in writing battle scenes that are not a muddle. And yes, I know - battles are muddles. But they shouldn't be a muddle to read. The battle in The Siege of Macindaw is easier to follow than the one in The Battle for Skandia because it is smaller in scale. But still a bit muddled.

All in all, I do look forward to reading the books that revert back to when Will is still Halt's apprentice. Book 5 and 6 were interesting and should definitely be read, but there is something still lacking in them. The thing lacking is Halt. Without Halt, Will takes on some of Halt's personality, and it doesn't quite work for such an easy-mannered, happy young man. Halt simply cannot be left out. I look forward to reading Erak's Ransom.

Star Rating: 3/5 (liked it)

Others in the Ranger's Apprentice Series:
1)The Ruins of Gorlan
2)The Burning Bridge
3)The Icebound Land
4)The Battle for Skandia
5)The Sorcerer of the North
6)The Siege of Macindaw
7)Erak's Ransom
8)The Kings of Clonmel
9)Halt's Peril

10)The Emperor of Nihon-Ja
11)The Lost Stories

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