BEST BOOK EVER!!
This has become my favorite series of ALL time! Summary:
At the age of 15, you are chosen for your craft; it's time for Will and the other wards to be chosen for their training. Whatever they are chosen for, they are taught to master that skill which will become their future job. Each of the mentors of each craft from Redmont Fief stand before the 15-year-old wards, including Will.
Each of these wards know what they want to be chosen for, and everyone but Will has skill in that area. Will, like most other boys, including Horace, wants to be chosen for Battleschool. However, he isn't necessarily strong or heavily built like Horace. In fact, he's much more skinny and weak than he would like to be and had been teased by Horace himself for this same reason.
Beading with sweat, Will watches as each of the wards is gradually chosen. So far, everyone is accepted into the craft that they had dreamed of. When it's Will's turn, he is broken when he isn't accepted into Battleschool. After all, he is an orphan but had heard that his father was a hero and he wanted to be just like him. Of course he had wanted to be in Battleschool!
The mysterious Ranger Halt took interest the boy - the Rangers slipped around unseen and mysterious. Some of the villagers believed that they practiced dark magic. Halt accepted him as an apprentice, taking him to his cabin in the woods. Will was nervous, and still slightly disappointed that he wasn't accepted into Battleschool.
But as he begins to be trained in the ways of a Ranger, he realizes that Rangers are not what they seem. Yes - they are trained in camouflage and unseen movement. Yes - they are trained to move as silently as possible. Yes - they are trained in archery so well that they can't miss the bullseye. Yes - they were camouflage cloaks that help them to blend into the environment. Yes - they even learn tracking skills in the wild.
And yes... they also help protect the kingdom.
As Will is going through his first year of training, a war is beginning to form between a former Baron, Morgarath. He was exiled into the mountains years ago and now has risen an army to retake Araluen for himself. One type of creatures in his army, the Kalkara, has made their way into the valley. Now, it is Will and Halt's mission to eliminate them...
By the end of his first year in Apprentice training, Will, the Ranger's Apprentice, turns down the offer from the King himself after seeing such skill in battle to join Battleschool. He realizes that being a Ranger has meant more to him than even being just like his father, was. He could be hero without being a Knight.