Go Vikings! I mean Skandians. My sixth grader is chugging through the Ranger Apprentice series, and I'm tagging along for the ride. Books Three and Four: The Icebound Land and The Battle for Skandia have John Flanagan again providing swift excitement, good camaraderie, and even UST! (for the acronym challenged, that's unresolved sexual tension)
I do find it amusing that these Australian-written books take place over a mock-Europe, with French-types and Viking types and steppes types in roughly the same places. It seems Great Britain is not an island though, but then my geography isn't the best in real life, let alone in fictional worlds, so don't take my word for it. It's nice that the separate plot strands come back together; Halt pitches a fit to get himself banished so he can traipse across pseudo-France with Horace, and then catches up with his apprentice in time to be trapped in Viking Land with him. Meanwhile Will and Evanlyn meet noble and despicable vikings, she learns her life is forfeit if she is recognized, and Will gets addicted to an evil drug so she gets a chance to make decisions and save people. Whew! The plot tension moves around a bit; we get a bit of worry with the blood feud between the princess and the uberjarl, but conveniently that goes away when it's time to worry about Halt's legal feud with his own king.
The battle scenes do not have the gritty realism of Stirling's Change series; arrows only run out when the plot needs them to, for example. But all the kids get a chance to be heroic, the bad guys aren't too stupid, and Evanlyn cures Will's drug addiction, which is always a good thing. I'll keep reading, although I would go at a slower pace if not for my son's single-mindedness. B+