The Rangers Apprentice – The Early Years: The Tournament at Gorlan by John Flanagan
When Halt and Crowley discover that the ambitious Morgarath has been infiltrating the Rangers in order to corrupt the Corps, the young Rangers travel north to find Prince Duncan, seeking a royal warrant to stop Morgarath before it is too late. By weakening the Rangers, the most powerful force in support of the King, Morgarath plans to steal the throne.
Yet when Halt and Crowley arrive in Gorlan, they discover just how close Morgarath’s scheme is to success. Morgarath has a plan to discredit the Prince and alienate him from his father. At the same time, the Baron of Gorlan has been conspiring to win the trust and admiration of the Council of Barons to further his plan. If the young Rangers are to prevent the coup from succeeding, they will have to tread a dangerous path, which leads them to a thrilling climax at the annual tournament at Gorlan, where a series of bitter duels must be fought and won.
Halt and Crowley are new Rangers in a land where traditionally-trained Rangers, like them, are being replaced. The evil Morgarath is at work, twisting the king’s ear, and framing the prince for thievery. So Crowley forms a plan to gather the remaining loyal Rangers and show everyone the truth at the tournament at Gorlan.
This new, prequel series is set before the Ranger’s Apprentice series, when Halt is a young, new Ranger. The Tournament at Gorlan is a fantastic series opener that Ranger’s Apprentice fans will definitely want to check out. While new readers will have no trouble starting with this series, the Rangers Apprentice gives much more depth into who the Rangers are and what goes into their training. I highly recommend reading at least the first in that series before beginning this story. Halt is not yet the hardened older man. And he and Crowly have a fun camaraderie. I loved every bit of this well-paced story full of danger, suspense, intrigue, and humor. The characters are fantastically vivid, and readers of all ages would enjoy this saga.