Book Review: The Red Fox Clan by John Flanagan

Posted October 22, 2018 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 4 Comments

Book Review: The Red Fox Clan by John Flanagan

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Red Fox Clan by John Flanagan
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Published by Philomel Books on August 21, 2018
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library
Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Scorpion Mountain, The Tournament at Gorlan, The Ghostfaces, "The Beast From Another Time", The Caldera, Duel at Araluen, Return of the Temujai

Second in The Royal Ranger spin-off series and part of the overall Ranger’s Apprentice universe for middle-grade readers revolving around Princess Maddie who chose to become a ranger.

My Take

I do adore Flanagan’s Ranger Apprentice series (all his series, really). His characters are great role models for kids AND the adults in the stories treat the kids as intelligent people, not like little “kiddies”.

In his Royal Ranger spin-off, I love that Maddie provides the girls with a role model to look up to. We certainly do get to hear Maddie’s thoughts and feel what she feels, as Flanagan uses third-person global subjective point-of-view…which means we get to hear, see, and feel what a number of other characters are doing as well.

Yeah, as an adult, you may know what the outcome will be, but do remember that this story is for the kids. Just roll with it and enjoy the ride…I can guarantee your kids will love it, if they’re into action-adventure.

And The Red Fox Clan is definitely full of action and suspense with a whopping dollop of treachery, and most irritatingly, it stops in the middle of the story!! I hate to wait! It took five years for Flanagan to publish this tale after A New Beginning!!!

The Story

The first girl to be accepted into the Ranger Corps, Maddie has to fight harder and be better than all the rest. And she is.

Castle Araluen is also quite protected by its location and garrison…until most of the men follow Horace and Gilan to track down the Red Fox Clan.

It’s lucky for Araluen that the snoopy Maddie takes her training seriously and is seriously protective of her people and family. She’ll need every bit to save the day.

The Characters

Princess Madelyn “Maddie” Altman is second in line to the throne and prefers learning the skills of a Ranger. Bumper is Maddie’s ranger pony and Sundancer is her Arridan gelding when she must ride as the princess. Ingrid is her maid and travel companion who works at the castle when Maddie is training.

Will Treaty is a ranger (trained by Halt) and the hero of the Ranger’s Apprentice series. He’s also Maddie’s mentor. Alyss is Will’s wife.

Castle Araluen is…
…where Her Highness the Royal Princess Regent Cassandra lives with her husband, Sir Horace Altman, the preeminent warrior in the kingdom. And Maddie’s parents. (“Evanlyn” had been Princess Cassandra’s alias.) King Duncan is Cassandra’s ailing father.

Maikeru is a Nihon-Jan swordsman, a Swordmaster of the fourth rank, a style which relies on speed and agility, gifted two years ago to Cassandra by Emperor Shigeru (The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, 10). A master of the katana, he is to train Cassandra in its use. Dimon is one of the brighter young officers and a distant relative who will be left in command of the castle garrison, which includes Sergeant Merlon. Master Uldred is the castle librarian. Lord Anthony is the castle chamberlain. Richard is a young page.

Warwick is an intelligence agent for the Rangers who owns a farm nearby (where Maddie can keep Bumper for when she rides patrol around the castle). Louise is his wife and just as skilled. His neighbors include Barnaby Coddling at Coddling Farm, who is inclined to imagine things. Ulwyn is an old forester who will guide them on the hunt. Dougal is his hunting dog.

Lieutenant Burton and Ned are some of the troopers who accompany Horace and Gilan. Commander Nestor is in charge of the archers, who include Ellis (he’d been a poacher before he signed up), Clete, Gilbert, and Walt.

The Ranger Corps is…
…an elite special forces unit working as the eyes and ears of the kingdom who answer only to the king. Gilan is commander of the Ranger Corps and based at Castle Araluen. Blaze is Gilan’s Ranger horse. (Crowley is the previous commandant.) Harlan and Gudris are the assessors for the Ranger’s test. Mertin is the ranger who caught Maddie. Downey is another ranger.

Castle Redmont is…
…home to Baron Arald and his wife, Lady Sandra. Master Chubb retired as its cook. Jenny, Will’s old wardmate, runs a restaurant in Wensley Village. She’s in a long-distance relationship with Gilan. Halt, a retired Ranger, is a legend among the Rangers, and now lives at Castle Redmont in retirement.

Tonbridge Village is…
…in the charge of Sir Gerald Wollden.

The Red Fox Clan is…
…an underground organization which thinks women are nothing and want the old law, the one that forbids female succession to the throne, reinstated. Naturally, so its leader can be king. Brilliant with rhetoric, he is Vulpus Rutilus, the Red Fox, the leader of the group.

Iberion is…
…where King Carlos rules and which is an ally to Araluen. Don Ansalvo is the Iberian ambassador who believes women have their place.

The Skandians
Erak is the current Oberjarl over the Skandians with Hallasholm its capitol. Hal Mikkelson (the Brotherband Chronicles) is the skirl (and an expert ship designer) of the Heron. His crew includes Stig who is first mate, Thorn “Hookyhand” Hammerhand, Ingvar who is strong enough to handle the Mangler, and Edvin who is in charge of supplies and cooking. Lydia stayed behind to look after Agathe, her surrogate Skandian mother, who is ill.

Sten is the first mate on Wolfbiter, the current duty ship, which is captained by Jern Icerunner. Oberjarl Ragnak was in command of the Skandian army at one point.

The Temujai are…
…ruled by the Sha-shan and border Skandia. They’re not friendly with the Skandians or the Araluens.

Sonderland is…
…not an ally of our friends either.

The Cover and Title

The orange cover takes liberties with a scene from the story with Maddie whirling her sling, her back to us, and covered with the ranger’s cloak and hood, as she attacks one of the rebels wearing a fox mask through the arched stone doorway. The series information is barely perceptible in its embossed silver and gold at the top. The title is much more legible, if smaller, at the foot of the stairs in an embossed and black-outlined silver. Below that is an info blurb in white with the author’s name below that in a black-outlined gold.

The title is the enemy, The Red Fox Clan, who want to return to a male-only succession.

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4 responses to “Book Review: The Red Fox Clan by John Flanagan

    • I’ve absolutely loved everything that Flanagan has written so far. It’s all so appropriate for middle-grade readers with kids being given responsibility, being respected by adults, how can you not love it, especially when there’s all this adventure, lol.

  1. I am easily able to roll with most stories I read. I accept the characters for who they are…most of the time…and let the storyline take me where it wants to. I do like an adventure, no matter what age group the author targets.

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