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“Think of the positive outcome, and you will achieve it. Allow doubt to enter your mind, and the doubt will become self-fulfilling,” Will. –The Siege of MacIndaw
The Siege of MacIndaw
Ranger’s Apprentice #6
by John Flanagan
The kingdom is in danger. Renegade Knight Sir Keren has succeeded in overtaking Castle MacIndaw and now is conspiring with the Scotti. The fate of Aralean rests in the hands of two young adventurers: the Ranger, Will, and his warrior friend, Horace. Yet for Will, the stakes are even higher because inside the castle, held hostage, is someone he loves. Now the time has come for this once apprentice to grow up.
Will and Horace join together to free Alyss, defeat Keren, and return the castle to its rightful leader. Along the way, Will and Horace must work with the Sorcerer of the North and the Skandians. As the allies work together, they learn that things are not always as they seem. The group of unlikely allies will put their lives on the line when they siege the castle MacIndaw.
Fans of the Ranger’s Apprentice series will enjoy this action-packed story that shows Will’s and Horace’s personal growth. They are no longer apprentices who can rely on others for advice. In order to survive, they need to use their individual strengths to overcome Sir Keren. Unlike previous books in the series, Sir Keren is a well-developed villain who shows moments of weakness and uncertainty. Sir Keren’s behavior highlights the importance of keeping a vow and the unintended consequences of being an oath breaker.
The sixth installment of the Ranger’s Apprentice series is full of action, intrigue, and unexpected twists. The story explores how people react to things that they don’t understand. When strange lights are seen in the forest, people believe that a powerful sorcerer is using black magic. Will and Horace are able to use this belief to their advantage. Even though the reader knows that the “sorcerer” uses illusions to trick people, the illusions still add interest to the story.
The Siege of MacIndaw ends with an epic battle. However, the battle for MacIndaw is more violent, bloody, and descriptive than the previous books. In The Siege of MacIndaw both Will and Horace have grown into adults, so the story hits on more mature topics such as loyalty, love, and sacrifice. However, the story leaves the reader with a satisfying picture of Will and Horace, who have built a stronger friendship and turned into trustworthy men who have each other’s backs. The Siege of MacIndaw will satisfy fans of the Ranger’s Apprentice series and leave readers reaching for the next book, Erak’s Ransom.
- The Skandians plan to sell Buttle into slavery. When the Skandians’ ship begins to sink, they unchain Buttle. He “seized his chance. He grabbed a knife from one man’s belt and slashed it across his throat. Another rower tried to stop him, but he was off balance, and Buttle struck him down as well. Then he was over the rail and swimming for the bank.”
- A Skandian wearing a horned helmet questions Horace’s ability to lead. “Horace stepped forward, grabbed a horn in each hand and lifted the helmet clear of the head. Before the man could properly protest, Horace had slammed the unpadded heavy iron headpiece back down, causing Nile’s knees to buckle and his eyes to cross slightly under the impact… He felt the iron grip seize his beard and was jerked violently forward.”
- Will, Horace, and a group of Skandians ambush a party of Scotti in order to get information. Will shoots an arrow at a Scotti general, and “the arrow seared through the tendons and nerves in the wrist, the immediate shock of the wound depriving the hand of all feeling… robbing MacHaddish of the strength to brandish the huge sword.” Two other Scotti come to MacHaddish’s defense. Will fired an arrow “dropping one of them to the snow, dead in this tracks. Then the other was all over him, screaming hate and revenge, sword going back for a killing stroke.” Horace jumps in and throws “a solid right uppercut to his [the Scotti’s] jaw. The Scotti’s eyes rolled up in his head and his knees collapsed under him. He fell face down in the soft snow, unconscious.” The battle is described over three pages.
- When MacHaddish escapes, Will goes after him. When MacHaddish sees Will, he “reacted almost without thinking, hurling himself forward… he lowered his shoulder and drove it into the cloaked figure.” As they fight, MacHaddish slashes with his dirk. Will “felt the blade slice easily through his cloak and kicked out flatfooted at the Scotti’s left knee.” When Will reaches for his scabbard, MacHaddish attacks. “Desperately, Will skipped backward, feeling the blade slash through his jerkin, a trickle of blood running down his ribs. His mouth had gone dry with fear.”
- As Will and MacHaddish fight, MacHaddish uses his bodyweight to pin Will down. Horace appears just in time. “The heavy brass pommel of Horace’s sword slammed into the Scotti’s temple twice in rapid succession,” knocking MacHaddish unconscious. The fight between Will and MacHaddish is described over seven pages.
- While seizing the castle, Horace uses a ladder to get over the castle walls. Horace “cut the first man down with ease. The second came at him, Horace deflected his halberd thrust, seized his collar and propelled him over the inner edge of the walkway. The man’s startled cry cut off abruptly with a heavy thud as he hit the flagstones of the courtyard.”
- Will joins the fight and begins firing arrows. One of the men “staggered, screaming, as an arrow appeared in his thigh. Three men dead or wounded in a matter of seconds.”
- In order to free a prisoner, Will tries to climb the stairs leading to the tower. Will surprised a man who was waiting above him. Will “continued his upward movement and lunged, feeling the saxe knife bite into flesh. The man cried out in pain and stumbled forward.” In order to get up the stairs, Will sends a “volley of ricocheting shots” up the stairs and injures the man. “Will grabbed his shirt front and heaved him down the stairs, sending him crashing into the outer wall, then tumbling head over heels down the staircase. Then he was silent, the only sound his inert body sliding a few meters farther down the stairs.”
- During the attack, Horace and Buttle fight. Another man joins in to help Horace. When Horace looked back, “he saw the club fall from Trobar’s nerveless fingers as Buttle withdrew the sword from a thrust in the giant’s side. Trobar clutched at the sudden fierce pain, feeling his own hot blood course over his fingers… He saw that Buttle was about to thrust at him again and, hopelessly, threw up his arm to ward off the sword. The point of the blade thrust into his massive forearm, sliding through muscle and flesh, jarring the bone.”
- Horace steps in to defend Trobar. When Buttle realizes he will lose the fight, he begs for mercy. When Horace thinks back to all of Buttle’s cruel deeds, he “grabbed Buttle by the front of his shirt and heaved him to his feet. As part of the same movement, Horace hit him with a short, savage right cross, perfectly timed, perfectly weighed, perfectly executed… Buttle screamed as he felt his jaw dislocate.”
- Keren mesmerizes Alyss and commands her to kill Will. Will is able to break Alyss’s trance. While Will is comforting Alyss, Keren attacks. “Will regained his feet, the saxe knife sliding from its scabbard just in time to parry a side cut.” When Keren gets the upper hand on Will, Alyss picks up a bottle of acid. “She seized the weapon and moved to where Keren had trapped Will in a corner. The point of the sword was now leveled at Will’s throat… Keren smashed Will’s grip by the massive force of a two-handed overhead stroke.” Alyss throws the acid at Keren, and “his scream was terrible as the acid burned into his skin and eyes. The pain was excruciating, and he dropped the sword, clawing at his face, trying to ease the dreadful burning.” Keren eventually falls out the window. “His scream was long and drawn out—a mixture of pain and blind fear. It hung in the night above his falling body, like a long ribbon trailing behind him. Then, abruptly, it stopped.” Keren dies. The seize of the castle is described over 36 pages.
Drugs and Alcohol
- Will thinks back to a banquet where ale was served.
- Buttle went to the inn and demanded “the finest food, wine and ale when he was visiting…”
- Many of the Skandians had “bellies on them that suggested they might be overly fond of ale.”
- A Skandian gave Horace a “beaker full of spirit.”
- After Alyss broke out of her prison, a “healer had given her a sleeping potion and had put her to bed.”
- Will surprised a Skandian who cried, “Thurank’s horns! Where the devil did you spring from?”
- Horace jokingly calls Will an oaf.
- A man calls someone an idiot.
- A man calls someone a fool.
- After MacHaddish almost kills Will, Will yells, “Of course I’m not all right, you idiot! He damn near killed me!”
- “For god’s sake” is used as an exclamation three times. For example, when Horace questions Will, Will says, “For god’s sake! Stop trying to make me worry!”
- “My god” is used as an exclamation twice.
- Damn and hell are used occasionally. For example, when a man interrupts Keren, he yells, “Get out, damn you!”
- Hell is used several times. For example one of the Skandians says, “He’d better be one hell of a warrior.”
- The Skandians use the exclamations “For Loka’s sake” and “Gorlog’s beard.”
- Keren yells at one of the soldiers, “Get up, you yellow-skinned coward!”
- A man calls Keren a fool.
- Horace asks a man, “You really are a gutless piece of scum, aren’t you?”
- Keren used a blue gemstone to hypnotize Alyss. “The stone had become the trigger for his posthypnotic suggestions. All he had to do was order her to look at it and within a few seconds, she would be mesmerized again.” When Keren uses the stone, Alyss’s “eyes fell to the beautiful orb as he rolled it gently back and forth on the tabletop. As ever, she could feel it drawing her in, filling her consciousness.”
- Horace saves Will from being killed. “Thank God, he thought, he had made it just in time.”
- In order to get information out of MacHaddish, trickery is used. MacHaddish is lead to believe that “the dark demon Serthreck’nish is abroad in this forest, watching us stand here.” Serthreck’nish is a demon that is known as the soul stealer, “the flesh eater, the renderer, the tearer of limbs—Serthreck’nish was all these things and more. It was the demon, the ultimate evil in Scotti superstition. Serthreck’nish didn’t just kill his victims. He stole their souls and their very being, feeding on them to make himself stronger. If Serthreck’nish had your soul, there was no hereafter, no peace at the end of the long mountain road. And there was no memory of the victim either…”
- “Gorlog was a lesser Skandian deity who had a long beard, curved horns and fanglike teeth.”
- While seizing the castle, Will “breathed a silent prayer of thanks that there were not archers with longbows or recurve bows on the castle wall.”
- After saying goodbye to his friends, Will tells his horse, “Thank God I still have you.”