If you have never read any of this action adventure series about Hal and his brotherband on the wolfship Heron then this novel would be a good start.
Hal is an achiever, an inventor, a lateral thinker and most importantly a leader. His mother was a slave his father a viking like warrior from Skandia. Hal has a mentor, Thorn, who was a friend of his father and went on many raids on the countries around Skandia. Thorn has a wooden hook for his right hand but is a massive warrior.
The Skandians are now peaceful to a point but they are hired warriors in their wolfships who sort problems out and hunt the bad people down.
In this novel they are after a fanatical cult along the lines of Al Quaeda or ISIS in the territory of Arrida. Their leader has put a tolfar on the head of Cassandra, the King of Araluen’s daughter and will pay anyone who kills her. Araluen is the countryof the Rangers who were the subject of Flanagan’s first series the Rangers Apprentice.
Hal, Stig, the argumentative twins Ulf and Wulf , Lydia the crossbow queen, Ingvar the shortsighted giant, Thorn and a few Rangers go hunting Iqbal at his fortress on Scorpion Mountain but first they must take the seaport of Taborak.
The sea battle with the slave manned warship Ishtana is classic and the storming of Taborak exciting. I can tell you no more you will have to read it for yourself but I will say that when the fighting starts even the best laid plans can fall apart.
High School and Intermediate school readers who like action/adventure books will love this and the rest of the series. Excellent for leadership and what makes a leader.
This novel took me four days to read and I wished it had taken me longer. When it ended I wanted more and fortunately I am going to get it because it is part 1 of a trilogy that i am sure will set the literary world on fire.
It reads like an historical/ adventure /fantasy but I can assure you it has a lot more depth than that.
The setting is The Tearling a new land that has resulted from a cataclysm in the past and has been settled by a utopian group from America in an event known as The Crossing. The Tearling is bounded by Cadare to the south and the Mordor like Mortmesne to the east. Some past technology has survived but not all, gunpowder for instance is a fringe technology.
The Tearling is ruled by a decadent and corrupt Regent following the murder of the inept Queen Elyssa. Before the queen’s death her daughter was smuggled out to be raised by a couple known as Barty and Carlin. They bring up the very plain girl named Kelsea in an enlightened yet tough environment.
In the mean time The Tearling has been overrun by the cruel and decadent Red Queen from Mortmesne who has left the Regent in charge. The Regent who is Kelsea’s uncle has hunted widely for her without success and now 19 years later it is time for her return.
On a day known to Barty and Carlin the Queen’s Guard led by hard man Carroll and equally hard man Mace arrive to take Kelsea back to the Capital City New London to claim her throne.
The action starts and it will mesmerise you the reader the way it did me.
Kelsea is a brilliant character. She is straightforward, decisive, tough, human and aware of her destiny and what she must do. As she and her Guard travel though The Tearling she sees the enormity of the task ahead of her but first she must assert herself as Queen and prove her worth to the Guard and to the people.
One of the central themes of this novel is leadership. What does it take to get people to follow you and attract loyalty. Other themes are the gap between rich and poor, corruption, the place of the church and religion and the deviance of human behaviour.
Kelsea and her main man Mace plus a host of astonishingly real characters drive you through this outstanding novel which at times will shock and horrify the reader. But you are on Kelsea’s side all the way.
Senior secondary and young adult. I can’t wait to read the next one.
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.