Sunday, January 29, 2012

More books for fans of the Ranger's Apprentice series

If you like the Ranger's Apprentice series, try one of the books below. They're all exciting stories with fast-paced, action-packed fantasy adventure. Tween readers will enjoy the carefully rendered, medieval settings, details of battles and warfare, and stories about heroes who work behind the scenes. Any of them should keep you entertained while you wait your turn to check out John Flanagan's latest book set in Skandia, The Outcasts (first in a new series called The Brotherband Chronicles.)

Revenge of the Witch, by Joseph Delaney (Greenwillow Books) Horror. Young Tom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son, is the new apprentice of Mr. Gregory, the village Spook, whose job is to protect ordinary folk from "ghouls, boggarts, and all manner of wicked beasties." Seventh sons can see things most people can't (such as ghosts), but even with this special ability, Tom still struggles to learn his new job. When Tom is left in charge while Mr. Gregory is away, he accidentally allows a dangerous witch to escape -- and that's only the beginning of his troubles. While The Last Apprentice series is scarier than the Ranger's Apprentice books, both are set in vaguely medieval worlds and offer action-packed adventures about heroes who do their work in secret.

The Land of the Silver Apples, by Nancy Farmer (Atheneum Books) Fantasy. Apprentice bard Jack, whom fans of this series met in The Sea of Trolls, ventures underground into the world of hobgoblins and elves in this 2nd adventure rich in myth and magic. Jack's sister Lucy hasn't seemed quite right since the midwinter ritual, and when the two of them travel to a monastery to find help for her, Lucy is kidnapped (again). Now Jack must journey to the Land of the Silver Apples in search of her, getting help from the freed slave girl Pega and shield maiden Thorgil. Readers who are fascinated by Norse myths, Pict legends, or early Christianity will be mesmerized by Jack's world, into which all of these (and more) are woven.

Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood, by Tony Lee (Candlewick Press) Graphic Novel. In Crusades-era England, the Sheriff of Nottingham rules with an iron fist. But in the haunted heart of Sherwood Forest, a defiant rogue disguises himself to become an outlaw -- a hero known as Robin Hood. Sure, it's a familiar story; but whether you have heard only once or many times about the man who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, you'll still want to check out this thrilling comic-book interpretation of the tale. Its breathtaking artwork will please graphic novel fans, and its exciting action will be a hit with devotees of the Ranger's Apprentice adventures.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, by Nahoko Uehashi; translated by Cathy Hirano and illustrated by Yuko Shimizu (Arthur A. Levine Books) Fantasy. Martial-arts expert Balsa wanders the land, saving lives on a personal quest of atonement. After she rescues a boy from drowning, Balsa learns that the boy is Prince Chagum -- and that he's possessed by a water demon. The Empress hires Balsa as Prince Chagum's bodyguard, and the two of them set out on a journey to defeat the demon and protect the land from a devastating drought...but will the price be Chagum's life? Rich with family secrets and "complex mythologies" (Kirkus Reviews), this action-packed novel will thrill fans of its anime adaptation as well as those who loved the medieval Japanese setting of The Emperor of Nihon-ja (the 10th Ranger's Apprentice book).

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, by Rick Yancey (Bloomsbury) Adventure. When extra-large underachiever Alfred Kropp reluctantly agrees to help his Uncle Farrell, a night watchman, steal a valuable sword from his uncle's workplace, he has no idea that he'll be called on to save the world. It turns out that the sword is none other than King Arthur's Excalibur -- and when the heist goes awry, the legendary weapon falls into the hands of a madman bent on global domination. Monks with sabers, Agents of Darkness on motorcycles, white-knuckle car chases, high-tech weapons and a touch of gore (heads literally roll in one battle) all figure in this thrilling story of Alfred's transformative journey from loser to valiant hero.

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