In book four of the Ranger’s Apprentice series. Will and Evalyn have escaped thanks to Erak’s help, but have gone from the frying pan into the fire. The Tamujai are moving into the area. This is John Flanagan’s interpretation of the Huns. I don’t know that the Huns every tried to invade a Scandinavian country, but it’s an interesting story Mr. Flanagan tells with the Tamujai trying to invade Skandia to take over their ships. At the same time, I wonder if this move signals a leave from the fantasy world to historical fiction.
I had a love hate relationship with this book. While I was enjoying the world of Skandia, it became clear that the world of “Ranger’s Apprentice” is a Europe-esque world. Celtica, Gallica, Teutland, and Skandia are reiterations of Wales, France, Germany, and Scandinavia, respectively. While this doesn’t bother me in theory, in practice it means that this world isn’t so different from our own and the element of “fantasy” seems to loose its power. If I’m going to read historical fiction, I want to read historical fiction, not just a fantastical version of it. I’m just curious enough to see where Mr. Flanagan is going with book five.
The fact that some of these countries and people are based on actual peoples and cultures, it became uncomfortable. It seems to play into some stereotypes which flatten the characters and plays off our own conceptions of the cultures and societies associated with these “fantasy” countries in the series. The end of the book recovered some of the esthetic that first drew me to the book, but a lot of the characters are starting to feel flat to me. I’m looking forward to seeing how Mr. Flanagan can reinvigorate them.