The Ruins of Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice, #1) - John Flanagan This was probably my sixth time reading The Ruins of Gorlan and I loved it just as much as I did the first time.

Will has lived as one of the castle wards (he's basically an orphan) all his life. No one knows who his parents were, only that they died. Sustaining himself with the belief that his father was a knight, Will's greatest wish is to be selected for Battleschool and follow in his father's footsteps. But, short and small as he is, Will's request is rejected and, instead, he finds himself apprenticed to Halt, the Ranger assigned to the fief.

While I enjoyed watching Will train as a Ranger, I can't really say that there's one specific part of the book that I like more than everything else. The first time I read it, I said the end of the book was my favorite part. Every time after that, it was Will training. Now though, I like both aspects of the book equally. I do think that one of the reasons why I love the first book so much though is because, unlike any of the others, this really does showcase part of Will's training and that gives it a different atmosphere and feel to it that the other books don't have. Don't get me wrong, the other books are great, but the whole training part of these type of stories really appeals to me.

I'll admit I was a little nervous to read this now that I'm a more active reader. While I knew I loved it, I worried that maybe I'd notice flaws I didn't before. To my immense pleasure, I didn't. I actually noticed new things, one of which being Horace and Will's friendship. When we start the book, for all intents and purposes, Horace is the bully and Will the victim. For those of you who don't know, Horace is a tried and true character. He's stuck with Will from book #1 to book #11. And while I like Horace, I was surprised to find myself disliking him at the beginning of this novel. Yes, even reading it for the sixth time, I still didn't like Horace at first. That to me, is a talent that not every author possesses.

The highlight of this novel (and the entire series) for me is definitely the characters. Everyone is just so lovable. Even Gilan, who we don't see much, is instantly likable and flawlessly joins the line of favorite characters. Will's mentor, Halt, is your typical gruff mentor. Not that unusual really, but his sarcasm and a little bit of something else I can't identify prevent his gruff criticism from making us hate him. And, of course, Will himself is easy to love. He's curious, honest, and inexperienced, but he doesn't let his inexperience paralyze him in tough situations, he puts on his cap of courage and acts.

This is probably one of the few books I will read over and over again for as long as I live.