The Writer’s Apprentice

Allison Tait author
Posted on November 17, 2011

Mr7 and I have found a new reading obsession. The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan has captured his imagination – and mine. Actually, mine first. I was searching for books that would be suitable for him, and was given a few recommendations by our new best friend at one of the local bookshops. She knows us, you see, and always has something to suggest for him when we pop in.

She handed me the first Ranger’s Apprentice with this review: “He’ll love it, and best of all it stays at the same level throughout the series.” No more shades of Grumpy Harry Potter, who gets darker and more bewildering as he advances through puberty.

I took it home, opened it – and read the whole thing in one sitting. It’s really good. Well written, fast-paced, heaps of action, great characters, good life lessons. Jackpot!

I handed it to Mr7 the next morning. “You’ll love it,” I said. He took it from me – and refused to read it. I think I was just a little bit too enthusiastic. I keep forgetting I’m his mum. Who wants to read what mum thinks is good?

It took months, but finally, on a slow news day, he picked it up. And was hooked. He’s now zooming through book four and has book five lined up, ready to go. (I would just like to say at this point that I haven’t even said ‘I told you so’… much.)

In true Mr7 style, he is now writing his own book. It is called The Four Archers, and he assures me that any resemblance to the Ranger’s Apprentice (which features archery – heavily) is absolutely coincidental. Note to self: revisit the plagiarism discussion.

“How many words will I need to make it into a real book?” he asked.

“Oh, 3000-5000,” I said, thinking of the school readers.


“Do you mean the Ranger’s Apprentice books are 5000 words long?” he asked.

“Oh no,” I said. “If you want to write one of that length, you’re looking at around 30,000-40,000 I think.”


“Whoa, that’s a LOT of words.”

Tell me about it.

I suggested that he might like to try writing a summary of his story first – a plot outline – and then writing the book based on that.


“I don’t think that would work, Mum. I like to make it up as I go along.”

Tell me about it.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.


  1. katepickle

    Am filing the name of this series away for future reference…. I’ve got a list a mile long of more girly books but not many boy friendly ones!

  2. Bruise Mouse

    A similar thing happened when my son was 11. I thought he would really like the 39 Clues seies. After my suggestiosn being knocked back time and time again I just went ahead and bought the first one. He was hooked. He read everything that was published at the time (about 10 books) and then counted down to the releases dates of the others.
    What would I know?

  3. allison tait

    Hi River, totally suitable for an 11yo boy. You could buy the first one of the new John Flanagan series (called Brotherband) to be sure he hadn’t read it.

    Bri – thanks so much for the offer. Will have mr7 read one to see how he likes them and if he does 50 will be great!

  4. River

    I’m wondering if any of the books mentioned here in post and comments would be suitable for a 11 year old? I don’t know him all that well, I suppose I could ask him what he likes to read, but I know I’ll be disappointed if he says comics.

  5. Bri

    I have the entire Animorph series (some 50 paperback books) that my son no longer wants. If your son is interested I would be more than happy to send them to you just for the cost of postage. Let me know : )

    Also, John Flanagan (Ranger’s Apprentice) has another series out called the Outcasts. The first book is called Brotherband. I just got it for my son (he hasn’t read it yet so I can’t offer a review).

  6. Allison Rushby

    Ooohhh, let me at him. I will turn that boy into a plotter, mark my words!

  7. Life In A Pink Fibro

    He hasn’t read Animorph – thanks for the tip @Bri – and I also have my eye on Deltora, thanks @Mrs Catch. And yes @Clairey Hewitt – MrH would LOVE.

  8. Mum on the Run

    Ha ha. Too cute.
    Says she who tried to explain the meaning of a summary to her three old just this evening!!

  9. bri

    Has he read the Animorph series? My son really enjoyed those as well as the Emily Rodda books, Goosebumps series and the Rangers Apprentice series.

  10. Mrs Catch

    My son also loved this series. A few years later, he still pulls them out for the odd re-read. He also enjoyed the Deltora series by Emily Rodda. They feature gems and dragons. Like your boy, he began writing his own book and surprise, surprise!!!! … it featured gems and dragons, front-centre. He did his own original illustrations though and they are priceless.

  11. Toni

    hmmm thanks for the tip! I’ll be looking out for them.

  12. ClaireyHewitt

    I think Mr H would love these…I am not interested in this type of book, but if it is Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter etc, he loves it.

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