Top critical review
An OK children's fantasy series takes a big step backwards
Reviewed in the United States on March 20, 2020
This series seems to have a large number of nostalgic 5 star reviews for each volume, but Book 3 is simply a terribly written book. There is no character development, almost no plot development and a laughably ham-handed attempt at addressing the issue of drug abuse. This is the first time my kids have asked me to stop reading a series to them. On the "good" side, you can literally just skip this book and go straight to Book 4 if you want to and literally miss nothing.
To recap (spoiler alert!), at the end of Book 2 we had the main character (Will the ranger) kidnapped along with the princess-in-disguise Evanlyn by 'Skandians', who are basically Vikings. So this book will feature them plotting an escape, right? Nope, they just kinda ... sit around in captivity. OK, then maybe the series' hyper-competent Halt the Ranger parachutes in to save the day? Nope, he spends half the book moping and the other half slowly meandering through fictionalized French countryside ('Gallica'). Well then, maybe the main characters learn more about themselves and the complex society they inhabit through their drastic change in circumstance? Nope, they just get high. Wait what?
Yes, this is a Very Special Episode in classic 1980's style about drug abuse, as written by someone who apparently knows nothing about it writing for a 5 year old. You see, Will is given 'warmweed' by one of his captors, and instantly (and I mean instantly) turns into a shambling zombie addict with no free will or thought processes for about 2/3 of the book. This ruins the book's already low momentum, as the main character's POV is essentially turned off for most of the book. Eventually, he is weaned off of the drug by the long-suffering Evanlyn, and suddenly 'wakes up' with his addiction cured and no memory of anything that happened while addicted, and everything's fine. I'll leave you with my 10-year-old's reaction: "This is stupid." Indeed.