Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Brotherband: The Outcasts

Brotherband: The Outcasts by John Flanagan (Random House)
HB RRP $17.95
ISBN 978-1-7416-6449-2
Reviewed by Oliver Phommavanh

Is Brotherband a Rangers Apprentice spin-off? Yes and no. It’s set in the same world as the beloved Rangers and there’s a reference to them in this book. But you don’t need to know anything before coming to this new series for younger readers. 

Brotherband takes place in Skandia, where Vikings rule the land and seas. Brotherband is a rite of passage for boys to become warriors. Teenagers form groups and compete in a series of challenges and training exercises. This is where lifelong friends and enemies are made.

Hal Mikkelson is a capable guy who ends up leading his own brotherband, the Herons. They’re made up of boys who were rejects. No one gives these outcasts any hope of competing with the two other brotherbands. But Hal has other ideas. The Herons might be outnumbered and out-muscled in most tasks but they’ve got enough ingenuity and courage to surprise everybody.

Flanagan has fun exploring the rituals of brotherband, explained through the narrative and characters’ thoughts. It’s full of the tactual insights that made Rangers so enjoyable. Readers will love the fighting and mateship that happens within brotherbands. Flanagan has happily included a glossary of shipping terms which adds extra flair to the climax.

Ranger fans will lap up this series. There are similarities between Will and Halt relationship and Hal’s connection with his mentor Thorn.  No one does adventure like Flanagan, the non-stop action and tension of Brotherband will leave readers wanting more. It’s a perfect introduction to another thrilling series and is highly recommended for ages 10 and up.  

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