This week (16th September) a new book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series will be released. The Tournament at Gorlan: The Early Years Book One is an ‘origin’ story, set before the events of The Ruins of Gorlan.
John Flanagan’s series has been phenomenally popular not only in Australia but around the world.
In fact, the world seems to love our fantasy writers: Isobelle Carmody, Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Sean Williams are just a few of the authors whose books have garnered many international fans.
Here are three Australian series for primary school and “middle” readers, which are also loved overseas:
Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan
John Flanagan’s books (the Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband series) have sold over 8 million copies worldwide. The Ranger’s Apprentice series has now been sold to eighteen countries and appeared on the New York Times bestseller list.
The series is much loved by boys (particularly) and girls for its fantastic action sequences and vividly detailed battles, as well as its classic ‘good versus evil’ theme and imagined historical setting based on the British Isles.
Flanagan used to write for TV, and that’s reflected in his strong plotting and story structure. He originally conceived of Ranger’s Apprentice for his then twelve-year-old reluctant reader son: he wanted to prove that reading was fun (and that heroes aren’t necessarily big, muscly types).
Will is small for his age, but agile and energetic. All his life, he has dreamed of becoming a great knight like the father he never knew, so he is devastated when he is rejected as an apprentice to Castle Redmont’s Battleschool. Instead he is apprenticed to Halt, the mysterious Ranger whose uncanny ability to move unseen is thought to be the result of black magic.
Reluctantly, Will learns to use a Ranger’s secret weapons: a bow and arrow, a mottled cloak and a stubborn little pony. It may not be the sword and battlehorse he longs for, but when Will and Halt set out on a desperate mission to prevent the assassination of the King, Will finds that a Ranger’s weapons are not so useless after all . . .
Ranger’s Apprentice around the world.
From left to right, covers from The Czech Republic, Korea and the Netherlands and the brand new Australian cover for The Tournament at Gorlan. Which do you prefer?
The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix
Over 5 million copies of Garth Nix’s fantasy books have been sold worldwide and his work has been translated into 37 languages. Nix tours the US and UK regularly, speaking to librarians and educators about his books for young people and attending fantasy conventions and conferences to meet adult fans of his iconic Old Kingdom (Sabriel) series and other work.
One of our favourite Nix series is The Keys to the Kingdom, a clever seven-part sequence which moves between our world and other realms.
More challenging reads than the other two series featured here, The Keys to the Kingdom books are suspenseful, often witty, and rich with detail. They feature two wonderful lead characters: shy, asthmatic schoolboy and unlikely hero Arthur and capable, determined, stubborn and irreverent Suzy Blue – a denizen of the other worlds.
Arthur Penhaligon is not supposed to be a hero. He is, in fact, supposed to die an early death. But then he is saved by a key shaped like the minute hand of a clock.
Arthur is safe but his world is not. Along with the key comes a plague brought by bizarre creatures from another realm. A stranger named Mister Monday, his avenging messengers with blood-stained wings, and an army of dog-faced Fetchers will stop at nothing to get the key back even if it means destroying Arthur and everything around him.
Desperate, Arthur ventures into a mysterious house – a house that only he can see. It is in this house that Arthur must unravel the secrets of the key and discover his true fate.
Keys to the Kingdom around the world.
From left to right, covers from the U.K., Russia, U.S.A. and Australia. Which is your favourite?
Deltora Quest by Emily Rodda
Emily Rodda’s books have been published in languages including Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai and Turkish (phew!) as well as in American and British editions.
There is even a Manga adaptation!
Before becoming a full-time author, Rodda worked as a book editor and publisher. She says that when she was writing the action scenes in the Deltora Quest books she would “sometimes ‘act out’ the fights, sitting in my chair. It was very embarrassing if anyone saw me doing it!”
The Deltora Quest books are short, fairly easy reads set in a high fantasy world. They’re quest stories with wonderful fantasy elements (magical gems, evil overlords) and lots of twists and turns. Kids love the mysteries and puzzles within the stories.
The original eight Deltora Quest books were followed by ‘mini series’ set in the same world: Deltora Shadowlands and Dragons of Deltora. And just this year Rodda launched the brand new ‘Star of Deltora’ series.
The evil Shadow Lord is plotting to invade Deltora and enslave its people. All that stands against him is the magic Belt of Deltora with its seven gems of great and mysterious power. When the gems are stolen and hidden in dark terrible places throughout the kingdom, the Shadow Lord triumphs, and Deltora is lost.
In secrecy, with only a hand-drawn map to guide them, two unlikely companions set out on a perilous quest. Determined to find the lost gems and rid their land of the tyrant, they struggle towards their first goal – the sinister Forests of Silence.
Deltora Quest around the world.
From left to right, French cover, Manga edition, U.S. cover and Australian cover. Which is your favourite?
What’s your favourite children’s fantasy series? And which of the international covers featured here do you like best? Please let us know in comments, below.
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