Will is a ward at Castle Redmont – an orphan brought up by the generosity of the Baron. All his life he has dreamed of becoming a knight, so when the wards are given the chance to become apprentices, he hopes he is chosen for Battleschool. The problem is, Will is small for his age. There's no way the Battlemaster will accept him. Will uses what he is good at – sneaking around unseen, and climbing trees and walls – to find out what the Ranger Halt has written about him. When he's caught, Will's honest answer convinces Halt that Will is the right candidate to become an apprentice Ranger.As Halt trains him, passing on the secret skills of the Rangers, Will realises that speed and agility and intelligence are every bit as important as physical size. He learns about loyalty and trust and that courage can overcome the greatest of enemies. Finally, as the Kingdom prepares for war, he learns about his own identity – who he is and what he will become.
Like all Rangers, Halt is a master of concealment in his grey-and-green hooded cloak. He is the Ranger of Redmont Fief but he is also among the Ranger Commandant Crowley's inner circle, and he was instrumental in the defeat of the traitorous Lord Morgarath in the battle fifteen years ago.Halt has been keeping an eye on Will for years without Will knowing, and he is willing to take on Will as his apprentice. In fact, he's very happy to have someone to do the housework in his cottage in the woods! Although he never appears happy with Will's progress, and rarely smiles, Halt is a thorough and generous mentor to Will, and begins to teach him all the skills a Ranger needs.
Tall, broad-shouldered and athletic, Horace is easily accepted into Redmont Battleschool as a warrior apprentice. His days are filled with gruelling physical training and lessons in military history. Horace's teachers have noticed his outstanding ability at sword practice, but they're puzzled by his behaviour – why does he always seem to have bruises, and why is his classwork so sloppy? It will take someone as intuitive as Halt to work out what's going on, and help Horace get his revenge on the bullies who are tormenting him.As the Ranger's Apprentice series progresses, Horace's uncanny skills at swordsmanship become apparent, and he is soon recognised for the hero that he is, although he's always happy to rely on the intelligence and strategy of the Rangers when it comes to planning.
Evanlyn is destined to be a major character in the Ranger's Apprentice series. When Gilan, Will and Horace find her in Book Two: The Burning Bridge, Evanlyn is starving and exhausted after her travelling party were attacked by Morgarath's Wargals and Evanlyn escaped. Not knowing who she can trust, she tells the two Rangers that she is a servant – but her real identity is much more important.Evanlyn is strong and determined, and when she sets her mind to something – like making Will and Horace take her with them to spy on the Wargals rather than sending her back to Araluen – she won't be dissuaded. Evanlyn's real identity is revealed by the end of Book Two: The Burning Bridge, and she proves herself to be brave and resourceful in the battle for Skandia in Book Four: Oakleaf Bearers. Evanlyn reappears as a major character in Book Seven: Erak's Ransom – and beyond.
Erak is the Jarl, or captain, of the Skandian wolfship Wolfwind. The Skandians sometimes agree to fight for other countries for payment, and in Book Two: The Burning Bridge he is fighting under the banner of the rebel warlord Morgarath, who is trying to defeat the Kingdom of Araluen.Erak is known for his navigational abilities – and his willingness to use his battleaxe to make his point known! Although he's gruff and battle-hardened, Erak has a soft side, too, which can be seen in Book Three: The Icebound Land. Taking on a leading role in Book Four: Oakleaf Bearers and again in Book Seven: Erak's Ransom, Erak also appears in the Brotherband series.
Halt's former apprentice, Gilan is now in his twenties, and is the Ranger of Meric Fief. Gilan never misses an opportunity to try and catch his old master out, but Halt hasn't been fooled yet.For all his jokes and light-hearted manner, however, Gilan is serious about being a Ranger – he chose to be a Ranger rather than a knight, which Will initially finds hard to believe. Gilan is the best 'unseen mover' in the Ranger Corps, and he's the only Ranger who uses a sword along with his knives and bow. Fans of Gilan will be pleased to know that he reappears as a major character in later books in the series.
Will's friend from childhood in the Ward at Castle Redmont, Alyss has grown into a beautiful young woman. Her quick wit and calm nature make her a perfect fit for the Diplomatic Service, who are also known as Couriers.Under the tutelage of the elegant Lady Pauline at Castle Redmont, Alyss will learn diplomacy and travel on missions for the Kingdom. Alyss's job as a Courier will bring her back into contact with Will in Book Five: The Sorcerer in the North and later books in the series.