For a series that has had the grand title “The Final Chapter” plastered against not one, but two installments, Ranger’s Apprentice and its preceding spin-offs, prequels, and sequels have had a remarkable sense of an open-ended tale. The lore that binds the many regions and characters of Araulen together never has had a definite conclusion in sight, despite author John Flanagan’s frequent attempts to plaster his latest books in such a manner. And after years of being trapped in this one franchise and its seemingly never-ending lineup of series, Flanagan has dropped the whole notion and instead pressed into it, delivering a brand-new series that will be continuing this May with Ranger’s Apprentice: The Royal Ranger – Duel at Araulen. The entire series is famously based off the twelfth Ranger’s Apprentice book, originally titled The Royal Ranger.The new series has brought in some fan-favorite characters yet new blood to the scene, including a new main protagonist. It’s the first real and momentous step that Flanagan has prompted in years, feeling like a definite move forward for the series and its continuing arcs.
Back in 2010, book ten of the original Ranger’s Apprentice series, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, was released, noted as “The Final Battle.” Mincing words here and there, that essentially means the final conclusion of this series. The book is intended to wrap up the arcs of all our favorite rangers, knights, and more in one neat, satisfying bow, and that’s a task it certainly accomplished. While it barely scratches the surface in the quality of previous entries, there’s a lot lurking under the dense 590 pages to enjoy, with the satisfying conclusion certainly being one of those things. Point being, it was a definite step towards wrapping it all up and hopefully allowing author Flanagan to move onto bigger and brighter things, but he wasn’t done with Araulen just yet.
Clearly indicating that fact was The Lost Stories, a collection of supposedly “lost tales” that added further context and lore to this already meaty world, with the shocking 580-page length certainly a contributing factor. The collection concluded on the event that readers had been clamoring to see – the marriage of Alyss and Will. It served as the epilogue that everyone wanted and was satisfied with – the conclusion that any reader would have been happy with.
And so it appeared to be the conclusion as two years flew by without a peep from either publisher Penguin Random House or John Flanagan himself. In fact, as The Brotherhood Chronicles was wrapped up, developments and rumors surrounding a potential Ranger’s Apprentice film adaptation frothed up, exciting fans, especially after the golden age of the Harry Potterfilms and the quickly growing in popularity Hunger Games trilogy. But in 2013 the silence was finally broken. John Flanagan has returned to Ranger’s Apprentice.
Marking the twelfth book, on October 1st, 2013, Ranger’s Apprentice: The Royal Ranger was released and was once again touted as the “Final Installment.” But such a claim got quickly shot down due to how the book eventually resolves. It’s essentially a soft reboot with an entirely new protagonist being introduced. Closing the series out on this note and with undoing the finality of previous entries would have proved controversial to say the least and it seems Flanagan learned that lesson.
So where does that leave the series in 2019? Well, after two direct sequels to The Royal Ranger once Duel at Araulen debuts later this month, it will mark quite a period since the dreaded title has been touted by Flanagan and company. Hopefully, it’s a tagline that will never come to actually mean something for the series but I would hate to see Flanagan turn into the next Riordan.