Brotherband Book 1: The Outcasts by John Flanagan.
Brotherband Bk 1 The Outcasts by John Flanagan. Pub. Random House, 2011.
I love Viking stories and Viking warrior culture because it is exciting and gives us some terms such as berserk, valhalla and saga which evoke thoughts of prowed ships, laden with axe wielding helmeted warriors coming out of the mist seeking gold and jewels. This is such a story.
Set in the kingdom of Skandia, Hal is the son of a freed slave who will always be treated as an outcast but who possesses qualities that the local Skandian lads admire and fear at the same time. Hal has a guardian called Thorn, a strong warrior and friend of his dead father but now reduced to a target of ridicule after losing a hand and hitting the bottle.
Hal has a friend called Stig, also an outcast and they will become a formidable pair.
All the Skandian lads at the age of 16 years attend training to become warriors at Brotherband and this novel is about their training and first exposure to battle. The training is excellent reading as the qualities of competition, of teamwork, of courage and particularly of leadership are brought out as the lads now in three teams thrash it out.
One important lesson learned is that most fights are won with the first two or three punches. There are bloodthirsty pirates around to provide tension and action. Gritty stuff.
John Flanagan also wrote bestselling series Rangers Apprentice and this series will attract those readers and others of high school age and good readers at intermediate level.
I look forward to the rest of the series.