Sunday 23 December 2012

Brotherband 3:The Hunters

Brotherband 3:The Hunters by John Flanagan (Random House)
PB RRP $17.95
ISBN 9781742750620
Also available as an ebook
ISBN 9781742750637
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

After immersing myself in John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series, with its fast-paced, adventurous storylines, I’ve joined the throng of landlubbers to sail with the Heron Brotherband in Flanagan’s latest Skandian saga of longboats, pirate hunting, and a matadorial sea duel to retrieve the stolen artefact, the amber Andomal.

If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, Flanagan’s style is so sleek, that the reader effortlessly slips into the saga. With the opening double page sketch of the Skandians’ longboat, the Heron, and the handy glossary, the reader is well primed for adventure.

The book is written in two parts: The Hunt and The Duel. Hal and the Brotherband are on the hunt for the pirate, Zavac, aboard the Raven as its crew plunders its way to the safety of their lair in Raguza. On board the Heron, the injured Ingvar is near death from an arrow wound. He needs to rest and recover so the Skandians beach their longboat. They are carrying a pirate prisoner who escapes and it’s here that we see the prowess of Lydia, the only female on board.

Excellent descriptions are given of the crew as each takes his or her part in the action; humour and courage interweave even in times most dire. There’s the shy Edvin, who knits watch caps for the crew, the quarrelsome twins Ulf and Wulf and the ‘shabby old warrior’ Thorn, who, if he ‘hadn’t lost that hand in an accident on board ship he would have been the greatest warrior in the history of Skandia.’

One of my favourite characters is Lydia. She is a fine role model. Not only is she an expert tracker, she is a crack shot with the atlatl (a dart thrower) with its ‘great, sharp iron warhead.’ She’s resourceful, clever and cluey as she executes the breakout of the Brotherband from prison, but ‘after years spent hunting alone in the woods, Lydia’s manners and social graces left something to be desired.’

It’s hold-your-breath action as the crew jumps from one impossible situation to another, whether it’s flume riding their longboat down the Wildwater Rift or the sea duel between the Raven and the Heron.

With its sophisticated level of language and layered storytelling, Brotherband 3: The Hunters will enthral teenage readers and transport them into the Middle Ages and a saga akin to the Vikings. Flanagan is a cracking storyteller.

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