Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Outcasts by John Flanagan (Brotherband Chronicles book 1)

If you liked the Ranger's Apprentice series you will like John Flanagan's new series that follows the same formula. Instead of Will, there is Hal. Instead of Halt, there is Thorn. Instead of Horace, there is Stig. All have flaws and strengths. There is plenty of action and humor throughout the story. This formula works and it's highly entertaining.

Hal is an outcast in Skandia because of his mixed parentage. His Mom, a former Araluen slave, was set free by his Skandian dad who later married her. Hal is an inventor and talented navigator. The Skandians revere muscle over brains.  Hal's never known his dad, Mikkel, who died in a battle with Thorn, his best friend, at his side. Thorn promised  Mikkel to look after Hal; however, Thorn lost his hand right after Mikkel died and fell into depression. It wasn't until Hal was 10 that Thorn made good on his promise and turned his life around. Now, Hal is 16 and entering Brotherband, a training ground for young boys before they become skilled Skandian warriors and seamen. He ends up leading a team of outcasts, boys who are chosen last because of what the others view as defects. Not only does Hal's team learn to work together, they become good friends, warriors, and sailors.  Read this story to see how the outcasts struggle to win contests and learn what it means to stand up for what's right.

The plot moves at a fast pace and the characters are engaging. I enjoyed the descriptions of sailing and how Hal created a new type of sail. The adults usually do the right thing but not always. The bully in the story is really completely consumed with winning and I thought the adults could have addressed this more. This character doesn't change from the beginning to the end. Hal wants to be accepted by the townspeople and struggles with being an outcast. Stig probably changes the most as he tries to control his temper. A minor thing that I didn't think worked well with the story was how it began. I thought the book could have started when Hal makes his failed invention that floods his Mom's kitchen and that the story of how Thorn ended up involved in Hal's life could have been slowly revealed. It's all thrown at the reader at the beginning. Well, almost all. I did like the surprise later on. I just thought Flanagan could have sprinkled it throughout to create more suspense in the beginning.

A fun, entertaining book.

Reading Level 6.3
:-) :-) :-) :-) 4 out of 5 Smileys

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