By: Johnathon Froman
If you’ve ever been to a nearby bookstore and seen The Ranger’s Apprentice on the shelf, you might not have known the long and twisted path that brought this book to life. The mastermind behind the bestselling series is an Australian named John Flanagan whose path lead to creating the twelve book series that captured so many young minds throughout the United States and in several other countries started not as a writer, but in the television and advertisement industry.
Born on the 22nd of May, 1944 in Sydney, Australia, Flanagan wished to be a writer in his younger years. However life took a sudden turn and when he grew older, he landed a job in a advertising agency. At this job, Flanagan was treated poorly by his boss: A senior executive who insulted Flanagan and his work. This behavior by the executive would lead to Flanagan creating an unflattering poem that mocked his boss. This daring act was seen and complimented by the advertising company’s directors. Impressed with his literary expertise and in agreement with Flanagan’s remarks about his boss, the company decided to have Flanagan trained as a copywriter. Quickly, Flanagan gained huge success as a copywriter for the next twenty years.
After his career as a copywriter, Flanagan turned his attention to television and jump started a sitcom called Hey Dad..!. with his old friend Gary Reilly. The show turned out to become mildly successful and ran for 8 seasons. Flanagan also helped write Hampton Court (1991) and My Two Wives (1992).
Flanagan married in 1967 and had three children. To encourage his second, Michael Flanagan, to enjoy reading, John made a series of short stories to help Michael. The main character was similar to his son because John wanted to prove to Michael that all heroes didn’t need to be big or strong. Ten years after writing these short stories, John decided to try to turn the short stories into a novel and get it published. These short stories were sewn together with skilled fingers and became The Ruins of Gorlan, first of The Ranger’s Apprentice series.
The Ranger’s Apprentice is a fantasy series set in a medieval world. The books follow the adventures of 15-year-old Will–who is based loosely on John Flanagan’s son– as he is taken under the wing of Halt, a King’s Ranger of the country of Araluen. Similar to being spies, Ranger act as Araluen’s intelligence as they find and arrest criminals that hide in the shadows of the nation. As an Apprentice Ranger, Will and Halt go on the adventures of a lifetime to save their home from dangers, both outside and within. The Ruins of Gorlan was hugely successful and John Flanagan went on to publish The Burning Bridge less than a year later.
Twelve books later, John Flanagan started a spin-off series called The Brotherband Chronicles which takes place in the northern country of Skandia where a Skandian teenage boy builds his own ship and works together with his crew of misfits along with his best friend Stig to compete in a competition to become accepted in their harsh society. Currently, there are five books in the series starting with The Outcasts, but the series is still ongoing with a sixth book to be published in 2016.
A second spin-off series Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years features the past of Will’s mentor Halt and how he ran to Araluen from his troubled homeland and found himself a Ranger as the kingdom was being taken over by the evil Baron Morgarath. The Early Years has only one book published, The Tournament at Gorlan, but more books of the series are surely to come.