The Lost Stories had some good stuff in it. 'Death of a Hero', 'And About Time, Too...', 'Purple Prose'. But 'The Wolf'. That stupid wolf. It was a good story and probably one of the most realistic ones. But I think you all know where this is going. Tug gets crippled in this story after going on a wolf hunt with Will. Due to his injuries, he has to retire. Will gets a new horse that is almost exactly like Tug thanks to this fancy Ranger horse breeding thing. They even rename Tug and give the new horse his old name. Yeah, this'll be a rant, guys. Here's 6 reasons why this story is my least favorite of the Lost Stories.
Reason 1: This should not have happened
I'm not saying Tug never should've retired or been replaced, no. He was aging and did a lot of work as a Ranger Horse. He can't do that forever! And I said this was realistic earlier because there's no way this horse has been on so many adventures and hasn't gotten badly hurt yet. What I hate is how this happened. Tug got hurt and had to retire early because Will didn't listen to him. Tug could tell something was wrong and gave a warning signal to Will. What bothers me is that Will acknowledges it, calls Tug a worry wart, and continues looking at the wolf tracks thinking it's nowhere near. Um, exsqueeze me? Did you just ignore your highly trained, obviously brilliant horse and his warning? Did you learn nothing from Burning Bridge when those guys jumped you and Horace because you weren't paying attention to your horse?! I don't care if Tug has been a "worry wart" in the past; this is serious! There's a wild animal out there who almost ate a child, and when Tug's spidey senses were tingling, you do nothing?!
Reason 2: The title
The wolf was the reason this all happened but did we need to name the story after it? Mostly this is about Tug. I think some other title involving horses might have worked better. The wolf was there for only about two chapters. This reason wasn't a big deal to me and doesn't have much more to it than that, but I thought I'd mention it.
Reason 3: He'll limp for...how long?
I think John just likes permanently scarring characters to make them grow or move on. Tug will limp for the rest of his life just like Maddie. But that's not all there is to this reason! Oh, no. We could've tracked that wolf, killed it, gone home, and then have someone say, "How old is Tug? ... Really? Well, it's about time you should get another horse before this one gets too old and weak. I have a horse just like yours that you can have now. Cool, huh? ... Why didn't we tell you this was a thing from the beginning? I don't know. I guess we didn't know it existed fifteen years ago."
I'm creating the perfect situation here where Tug never gets hurt and just becomes a grandpa horse, and I know that would've been a boring/sad story but...it's Tug, guys! He's the best. I suppose this reason is for my own personal happiness, not for the better of all things Ranger's. Some of you agree with me, though, right?
Reason 4: You never told me about this
I know that John hadn't thought of the breeding program for Ranger horses while writing the first book so I'll let not mentioning it slide. But even when Maddie got her horse, there was no talk of her having to get another one with exactly the same build and characteristics in about fifteen years. They weren't sure she'd be a Ranger, yeah, but just mentioning something would've been nice. It would have put a damper on the mood, her bonding with Bumper and all, but I would've liked a heads up! If I'm gonna straight up replace my horse some day and pretend I never had that first one, a bit of a warning would've been appreciated, 'kay thanks. Which brings me to...
Reason 5: Name changing
I understand that Tug can't work like he used to anymore, I can accept this. I can also accept the fact that this new horse is almost identical to Tug. It makes some sense (kinda) and it is a good idea. For his entire career, Will has been with this one horse. He knows his movement and personality very well. Having this new horse be similar to him would make the transition from Tug to the new horse easier on Will. I can accept all of this. But when you add on name changing, that's when I start crying.
I'm sure this new horse is great, but why must we keep the same name? Is Will incapable of calling his horse anything but Tug? No, I don't think so. Renaming Tug and pretending like this new horse is now the one and only Tug makes me feel even more like this is a replacement. I mean, it is and always was, but it doesn't feel right. Passing down the name, to me felt like we're trying to pretend the original Tug never existed. If we just pretend that Tug's spirit somehow is in this new horse and everything is fine, we won't be sad! If Will just hears this new horse speak just like Tug, we can ignore the differences and convince ourselves everything's okay.
No! I don't want to forget Tug! And I don't care if this horse is better (impossible), Tug's special. I will always look back to that first chapter with Will and Tug meeting and smile. Well, while I was reading 'The Wolf', I actually revisited that chapter and cried, so...but that isn't my point!
^ Me reading Ruins of Gorlan chapter 14
I won't accept this new horse as Tug and I will never call Tug his new name, Bellerophon. Just can't.
Reason 6: You're not that similar
One other problem I had with this changing horses thing was the permission phrase. Every Ranger horse requires you to say something to them before you can ride. Otherwise, they'll throw you off. Tug's phrase was "Do you mind?" New Tug's phrase was "Do you mind?" That's a problem. What if someone learned Tug's phrase somehow and tried using it on Will's horse. If it was a different horse and this person didn't know, they could just ride them, no problem. If they had different phrases, this would never happen. I think all Ranger horses should have different ones.
And what's with Will saying, "Yeah, I guess you are Tug" at the end of the story?! No, he's not! Why are you so cool with this? And why is this horse so cocky, saying he could have beaten Sandstorm? (I know, Will made that up in his mind.) Will even lies to Maddie in Royal Ranger, saying how his horse won the race in Erak's Ransom. Granted, he was trying to prove a point to her, and Tug did win, so technicalities. But he just acts like this new one has been with him his whole Ranger life! This horse hasn't really proven himself yet, so stop acting like he's impressed you already.
(BTW I can't be the only one who broke down when Will visited with Tug in book 12, right?)
So yes, those are my reasons for not liking this story. I hope you enjoyed my rant. Feel free to tell me any of your thoughts on the Tug thing or RA in general. I hope to discuss with you about one of my favorite series!
I have a review on Goodreads of the entire book if you wanna check that out:
Published by Izzie