|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (November 2013)|
Second Australian edition cover of
(Book no. 7)
|Publisher||Random House (Australia)|
|1 November 2007 (Aus)
5 January 2010 (USA)
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Siege of Macindaw|
|Followed by||The Kings of Clonmel|
Erak's Ransom is the seventh novel in the continuing Ranger's Apprentice series by Australian author John Flanagan. The book was released in Australia on 1 November 2007 and in the United States on 5 January 2010.
In 2008, Flanagan won the Australian Publishers Association's Book of the Year for Older Children and the International Success Award for Erak's Ransom.
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Skandian Oberjarl Erak Starfollower becomes tired of paperwork and leaves Borsa, his attendant, to take care of matters while he goes on one last raid to Arrida. When he arrives though, his raiding party is surrounded by the Arridi. The Arridi general releases everyone to obtain ransom money for Erak, who is left behind. Meanwhile, at Castle Redmont, Halt and Lady Pauline are getting married. Pauline even convinces Halt to get a proper haircut. During the wedding feast, Will shares his amusement with Alyss about Halt's wedding dance – citing the fact that the elder Ranger is a "total fumblefoot". However, unbeknownst to everyone, Halt has secretly taken dancing lessons from Lady Sandra (Baron Arald's wife). Being a Ranger, he's already light and quick footed. In just 10 days she manages to turn him into a "consummate dancer" and he shows off his newly acquired skills to the delight of those present at the wedding. Just as everyone is joining the newlyweds on the dance floor, Svengal (formerly Erak's first mate) appears. In a small meeting with Will and Horace, he reveals that Erak's been kidnapped. He also tells them that Erak thinks he was betrayed.
In a meeting the next morning with nearly all major character's present, Will relays Svengal's story – explaining that the Arridi will release the Oberjarl for a price. Princess Cassandra begs King Duncan (her father) to supply the money for Erak's release. After all, if it weren't for the Oberjarl, she and Will likely would have been killed or kept as slaves permanently by Ragnak (the former Skandian Oberjarl). Duncan agrees, but is unable to go himself to negotiate the release as he's in talks with the Hibernian kings. Halt offers to go, but it's revealed that he wouldn't be the proper representative. Cassandra eventually volunteers herself, much to Duncan's chagrin. It's only after much debate and heartache that the King finally agrees to let his daughter take on this dangerous mission. Will, Cassandra, Gilan, Halt, Svengal, Horace, as well as thirty of Erak's men (who also promise a blood oath to King Duncan that nothing will happen to his daughter) go to deliver the ransom. Once in Arrida, they meet a man who claims to be the Wakir, the lord of the area. Cassandra however finds out that he is actually the Wakir's accountant. The real Wakir, who the foreigners call Selethen, tell the group that Erak had been sent to Mararoc, a fort in the desert. So the party, along with Selethen and some his men, go to Mararoc.
During the journey, a sandstorm comes in, causing Will to lose his horse Tug, whom he decides to find. However, his Northseeker (compass) pulls him off course due to the iron content of the "Red Hills" around him. Will gets lost and loses consciousness from lack of water. A group of nomads called the Bedullin finds him and restores him to health, revealing that they are the same people who found Tug wandering around the desert. They refuse to give Tug back to Will, as the law of the desert says that if a horse is released, anyone who finds that horse can claim it as their own. However, they can't ride Tug, because all Ranger horses are trained to buck anyone off who doesn't know the horse's password. They agree to race Will on the condition that the winner is entitled to both Tug and the password that allows a rider to control Tug. Will races Hassan, who found Tug, and wins by Tug tricking Hassan's horse Sandstorm, into faltering his pace.
Meanwhile, the others continue their journey to Mararoc. On the way they discover corpses, and Selethen realises they are the bodies of the people escorting Erak. He deduces that it was the attack of the Tualaghi, who are called The Blue Veiled Ones and the Forgotten of God. The party speeds up, and eventually comes close enough for the group to see the Tualaghi camp. Gilan goes out to scout and discover at least 200 Tualaghis. However, while scouting he notices something moving, though he can't tell what or who. It is later realised that the person was a Bedullin scout, and he followed Gilan back to the Arridi camp. The next day, the Tualighis discover the Bedullin's tracks and eventually find the Arridi camp. The Tualaghis attack, and the group drives back the first one. However, the leader of the Tualaghis, Yusal reasons with Selethen and tells him that Selethen and his men will die eventually. So the group is forced to surrender and are taken prisoners.
The Bedullins find out about the Tualaghi attack through the scout, and the nomads offer to help rescue Will's friends since he saved the leader's grandson's life by shooting a sand cobra that had been about to bite him. On the way, they find Selethen's soldiers as prisoners of the Tualaghi with no shoes and barely any water. They join the nomads and continue on their way to the Tualaghis' stronghold.
The Tualaghis come into a desert town and locks the party in a storehouse where they had also put Erak. Toshak, the Skandian who betrayed him in the first place comes in and tells the prisoners of his plan. Meanwhile, Will, the Bedullins, and the Arridi devise a plan: 50 or so men will mingle with the townsmen before the execution while Will and Aloom, the Arridi captain will go up one of the watchtowers and shoot the executioner. The rest of the Bedullins would wait until a signal to attack. Will and Aloom goes undercover into the town and goes into a coffeehouse. There, one rich merchant becomes suspicious of them and reports them to the Tualaghi. The next morning while Will and Aloom go to the watchtower, the merchant and several Tualaghi follow them. Aloom tries to defend but gets injured multiple times. Will kills them all, and orders the merchant to bring a medic. However, Aloom succumbs to his wounds.
Meanwhile, the group is scheduled for execution. The executioner, Mussaun, comes forward and starts showing off to the audience and the prisoners. Erak and Svengal make jokes about him: "The man's got good wrists. I'd like to see him with a battleaxe in his hands," remarks Erak. Svengal replies, "I'd like to see him with a battleaxe in his head, chief." Mussaun pretends to be going to chop Horace down, but Horace senses it's a trick and doesn't move. Angry, Mussaun tries it on Evanlyn, but again she doesn't move, and the crowd goes quiet.
At last Halt is pulled forward to the chopping block, hoping that Will is close. He recognises a man from Selethen's soldiers in the crowd, and acknowledges him with a nod. Halt turns to Gilan, who has tears running down his face and says, "Will's taking his time, I'll give him a piece of my mind over this". As Mussaun bring his sword up, Will, from one of the towers on the town wall, shoots him with a well placed arrow. Mayhem ensues, with the Arridi and the Bedullins revealing themselves and fighting the Tualaghi. Once the Araluens and Skandians get their hands on various Tualaghi weapons they lend a hand too.
Toshak tries to escape, but Evanlyn, using her sling which she had hidden in her belt and marble stones from her necklace, hits Toshak's horse, causing him to fall off. Erak challenges him to a fight, and by pretending to be exhausted, brings the late Mussaun's sword, borrowed from Horace, into reach past Toshak's heavy axe.
Afterwards, the ransom is split between Erak's rescuers, with twenty thousand reels going to Umar, leader of the Bedullin, and Wakir Selethen (who also received the captured Yusal [Evanlyn captured him by knocking him down with her sling], who has a hefty reward on him of more than twenty thousand reels, which is their money.)
Back in Araluen, Crowley (Commander of the Ranger Corps), Halt and Will are in the cottage, where Crowley and Halt play the traditional trick played on all apprentices becoming Rangers, to stop them getting big headed on the day. After Crowley jokingly reads the documents, Will signs the paper, where he is given his last name, because there were already three other Wills' in the Ranger Corps. So after discarding Will Boar Killer and Will o' the bridge (which according to Crowley they abandoned because it sounded to much like Will o' the wisp), they decide on Will Treaty, because of the treaty he helped to bring about with Erak, the Oberjarl of the Skandians.
After Will complains "Is that all?" To which Crowley replies " Um...it seems to be...Listed your training, mentioned a few achievements, made sure you knew which end of an arrow is the sharp part...decided on your new name...I think that's..." "Of course! You have to have your Silver... don't you?"
Asking Will to see if he dropped it outside, Crowley and Halt follow him out... to find that a group of Will's friends in the Corps, from Redmont Fief and Skandia, (Erak and Svengal had come waving their axes, to their neighbours worry), near Gilan and Horace. Jenny, Alyss, George, Evanlyn (Princess Cassandra), Baron Arald, Pauline, Sir Rodney and Master Chubb were all there. Evanlyn and Alyss, after giving him his silver oakleaf, kiss him on the cheek.
Will – the protagonist of the series and an orphan. He is a young man who has been studying with Halt, a legendary Ranger. He has learned much over the years and is very accomplished in all facets of the Ranger skills. He wears a bronze Oakleaf pendant signifying his apprentice status. He has been part of numerous wars and conflicts. He recently escaped from Skandia and managed to successfully overcome warmweed addiction. He was originally conscious of his small height and thin, wiry frame (because he wanted to be a knight before becoming Halt's apprentice because of what his father did) but has come to be proud of them as they suit his Ranger profession.
Halt – Will's teacher, mentor, and father-figure. He has done many things for the Kingdom over his years of service and is regarded as one of the best Rangers of the time. He appears grim and silent, embodying the Ranger stereotype that appears throughout the book, but he does have a caring side. Halt is said to possess "whipcord strength" despite being slim and less than average height. He also has the vision of a hawk.
Horace – Horace was a one-time enemy of Will, bullying him incessantly for his dream of being a knight. Also an orphan, he, Will and Alyss were in the same ward. Since he went to battle school he has learned many things and has become a close friend of Will's after Will saved his life, accompanying him on some missions and attempting to save him when he and the King's Daughter, Cassandra (Evanlyn), were taken captive by Skandians. Horace is a naturally talented warrior in the King's guard.
Gilan – A former apprentice of Halt's, he is known for his skill as an unseen mover. He and Horace are sent by King Duncan to protect Princess Cassandra. He is also the only Ranger trained in the art of swordsmanship as he was taught at a young age and was given special permission to continue the training.
Princess Cassandra – Also known as Evanlyn, Cassandra was captured along with Will by Skandians and they formed a very close bond whilst trying to escape them. She, like Alyss, carries a sense of "unfinished business" when it comes to Will as he is awed by her refound reputation. She is brought along on the quest as a royal presence, as demanded by Erak's captors.
Alyss – An old friend of Will's while they were growing up in the castle ward. The ward was set up by the Baron Arald for orphaned children of those who served in his army at Redmont. She is a talented diplomat and currently works as a King's courier. She confesses her love for Will in The Siege of Macindaw.
Erak – The Oberjarl (the king) of Skandia. He first appears as a Jarl in Burning Bridge, where he captures Evanlyn and Will, and eventually helps them escape. As Oberjarl, he is supposed to stay in Hallasholm and be the ruler from there, but occasionally goes on a raid to escape Borsa (his Hilfmann, basically an administrator) and the tax rolls. This results in his capture.
Seley el'then – Typically called by foreigners as "Selethen", he is the Wakir of Al Shabah, an area of Arrida. Unlike many other Arridi, he does not disdain the Bedullin, and they temporarily stopped the Tualaghi from invading towns.
Svengal – Erak's first mate and right-hand man.
- Australian Associated Press (16 July 2008). "Brooks wins Book of the Year award". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 8 February 2011.