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Flip-back: ‘Ranger’s Apprentice’

I could never let go of my favourite childhood books — as my family moved between different homes and apartments, I always insisted on finding a place for the stories that captivated me when I was younger. Some I haven’t opened in the past ten years, but it does not matter; their presence on the bookshelf is a reassuring reminder of my identity, past and present. I suppose a lot of people share this sentiment because we are formed of all the ages we have lived: in a way, we can still see the books through the eyes of our ten year old selves, immersed in the stories and staying up past bedtime to read.

I can certainly remember how excited I was when reading my favourite childhood book series, the Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan. I read through all twelve books with an impressive reading stamina that I can only envy now. When I discovered the series, a few books had not yet been translated into my native language and so I spent the next two years in high anticipation, waiting for them to come out. Hearing of each new book being published felt like the best news ever to me. I devoured them as quickly as I possibly could, at the same time wishing that the stories would never end.

As I practised horseback riding for a few years around that time, sometimes when rising in the saddle I would imagine that I was raising my bow high

The Ranger’s Apprentice series follows the adventures of Will, who is an apprentice to the royal ranger Halt. For those who are not in on the secret, the Ranger Corps strive to keep the Kingdom of Araluen safe from outside threats, of which there are many. In order to do this, the rangers are highly skilled at riding horses, shooting arrows, and throwing daggers. They are loyal, highly organised, courageous, and dedicated. They are also amazingly smart and creative, and, above all, master strategists. As you can tell, they are super cool. 

I loved the idea so much that reading the books made me dream of becoming a royal ranger myself (a dream I never fully abandoned). As I practised horseback riding for a few years around that time, sometimes when rising in the saddle I would imagine that I was raising my bow high and shooting an arrow with deadly precision to ruin the enemy’s plans. In order to be able to do this, I even actually tried learning archery, but sadly was not very good at it. Unfortunately, no course at Warwick can help me succeed in this fictional career either.

It made me a passionate reader at a time when I could immerse myself completely in a story without neglecting my responsibilities

In hindsight, I think that the series was a great part of my childhood that I still deeply appreciate. Reading about the adventures stimulated my imagination and taught me the value of having a strong body and a quick mind. It made me a passionate reader at a time when I could immerse myself completely in a story without neglecting my responsibilities. 

Back then, it was unimaginable that I could ever stop reading books of that kind. I was genuinely puzzled by the fact that my parents (or the rest of the world) didn’t want to read them — to me, they were the best source of entertainment that could possibly exist. Now, however, I see that it was inevitable I would grow out of adventure fiction written for young teenagers. Gaining maturity allowed me to enjoy other literature, and over time my preferences changed. 

I think we read to understand ourselves and the world better, and adult literature more accurately answers the questions I have about life. Having said that, Rangers Apprentice was exactly what I needed as a child, and it will always hold a special place in my heart — and on my bookshelf.

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