Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Burning Bridge by John Flanagan

Premise: This is the second book in the Ranger's Apprentice series. This time the kingdom is facing a real war with Morgarath. Will and Horace find themselves with information about Morgarath's battle plans. They use spy and battle skills in an effort to defeat the evil lord.
Title: The Burning Bridge
Author: John Flanagan
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Fantasy
Series or Stand-alone: Book 2 of 10 in the Rangers Apprentice Series
Content Appropriate for: Grades 4-8
3 stars
3 adjectives that describe this book: adventurous, predictable, disappointing

When I finished Ruins of Gorlan, the first Ranger's Apprentice book, I couldn't wait to read book two. Unfortunately, like many other second books in a series, Burning Bridge didn't quite live up to it's predecessor. Though Flanagan continues to include great world building along with adventure and good character development, but The Burning Bridge is just so predictable. 

John Flanagan showed his exceptional writing ability in Ruins of Gorlan so I'm not sure why he chooses to tell, rather than show so many things. Take the title for instance. When they come upon Morgarath's evil bridge, what are they going to do? Burn it! No mystery there - it's in the title! There are a few other places where big reveals would have been better if Flanagan hadn't been so blatantly obvious with the clues. He gives away so many things so early on, such as the true identity of the strangely proper Evanlyn and ultimate sword-fighting maneuver that will save Horace's life.

What is it with the second book in a series? I find this kind of let-down to be way too common. I still can't stand reading Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) or New Moon (Twilight #2). Even Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane is the weakest of the otherwise outstanding Gregor the Overlander series. My theory is that authors spend so much time and energy developing the initial story to make it remarkable. Then, when book 1 takes off they are exhausted, out of ideas, or pressured into releasing a sequel too quickly.

Anyway - as with lots of series, I hear the third book, The Icebound Land, is better.

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