"In an ideal world I wouldn't put him at risk like this. But this isn't an ideal world. Everyone's going to have to play his part in this campaign, even boys like Will."
Begin here listening to an audio sample from page 3 (The Prologue) up to page 6 . I often tell students to read the prologue twice - as they begin the book and then again at the end as a way to make sense of Morgarath and his desire for revenge. In this section we hear of the Kalkara and later Will meets them:
"a horrific figure crouched, screaming hatred and fury, plucking uselessly at the mortal wound in it's chest that had finally bought it down. Over two and half metres tall, with shaggy, matted, scale-like hair covering its entire body, the Kalkara had long, talon-clad arms that reached to beneath its knees. ... But what they noticed most was the face - savage and ape-like, with huge, yellowed canine teeth and red, glowing eyes filled with hatred and the blind desire to kill."
I have spent a few weeks listening to this gripping story read by William Zappa. I highly recommend this as a good way to discover these characters especially young Will the apprentice and Halt his master. I first read this book in 2004 but there were many parts I had forgotten. You can read more of the plot here and here. Ranger's Apprentice is now a series of 12 books. And John Flanagan has other series for you to explore too.
One of the very best events in our school library happened in 2005 when John Flanagan visited our school. One of our students, at the time, was blind. John bought along his long bow and he allowed this boy to hold, handle and explore this medieval weapon. It was a very special moment for all of us.