Brotherband 1: The Outcasts

John Flanagan

Brotherband 1: The Outcasts
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Brotherband 1: The Outcasts

John Flanagan

John Flanagan, author of the international phenomenon Ranger’s Apprentice, creates a world of seafaring adventures, treacherous pirates and epic battles in Brotherband. In Skandia, there is only one way to become a warrior. Boys are chosen for teams called brotherbands and must endure three months of gruelling training in seamanship, weapons and battle tactics. It’s brotherband against brotherband, fighting it out in a series of challenges. There can be only one winner. When Hal Mikkelson finds himself the unwilling leader of a brotherband made up of outcasts, he must step up to the challenge. The Heron brotherband might not have the strength and numbers of the other two teams, but with inventiveness, ingenuity and courage on their side, they might just surprise everyone.

Review

I love a spin-off series – they’re a chance to get to know new parts of a world within a book that you already feel at home in. Brotherband 1: The Outcasts is set in the same world as Ranger’s Apprentice, but this time takes place in Skandia, a Viking-like country where boys undergo Brotherband training to shape them into fierce warriors. Hal has never really fit in as a Skandian – even though his father was a fierce warrior who was killed in battle, his mother was an Araluen slave, which has always made him an outsider. And so, when the Skandian boys are required to form groups during their training, Hal isn’t surprised to find himself one of the last to be picked, along with the other outcasts. Together, these eight boys form their own group, the Herons, and led by Hal they achieve greater success than anyone expected.

This is real boys’ own adventure stuff, and fans of Ranger’s Apprentice will recognise the similar themes here: the importance of friendship, and the power of the underdog. Flanagan has a knack for creating flawed characters that you want to succeed – my favourite is definitely Ingvar, the gentle giant of a boy who is so nearsighted he’s more of a threat to himself than others. This is a fantastic start to a new adventure series for readers (especially boys) ten and up. Holly Harper is from Readings Carlton

holly-pic Holly Harper is a children’s bookseller at Readings Carlton where she organises the kids and Young Adult e-newsletters. She also writes books for younger readers under the name H.J. Harper. Find out more about her Star League series and other books here and follow her on twitter - @hj_harper.

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