Thursday, February 7, 2013

John Flanagan's The Outcasts: Brotherband Chronicles (Book 1)

I rediscovered audiobooks a few weeks ago.  I've been trying to become more active and listening to a good book keeps me from sitting and reading.   I'd come across The Outcasts, the first in John Flanagan's Brotherband Chronicles, as an audiobook and soon found myself downloading the next two books in the series.

If you've read Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series, you're already familiar with his tales of adventure, friendship and loyalty.  I discovered the Ranger's Apprentice series a few years ago and have been a fan ever since.  This latest series is a spinoff - set in Skandia with a new set of young heroes. 

The blurb:
They are outcasts. Hal, Stig, and the others - they are the boys the others want no part of. Skandians, as any reader of Ranger's Apprentice could tell you, are known for their size and strength. Not these boys. Yet that doesn't mean they don't have skills. And courage - which they will need every ounce of to do battle at sea against the other bands, the Wolves and the Sharks, in the ultimate race. The icy waters make for a treacherous playing field . . . especially when not everyone thinks of it as playing. John Flanagan, author of the international phenomenon Ranger's Apprentice, creates a new cast of characters to populate his world of Skandians and Araluens, a world millions of young readers around the world have come to know and admire. Full of seafaring adventures and epic battles, Book 1 of The Brotherband Chronicles is sure to thrill readers of Ranger's Apprentice while enticing a whole new generation just now discovering the books.

The Outcasts introduces us to a new set of young characters living in Skandia.  While Erik from some of the Ranger's Apprentice series is the Oberjal and an important and occasional presence in this book is driven by an unlikely group of heroes led by Hal.  Hal, his best friend Stig, and the other members of the Heron Brotherband are the boys that were picked over during their year's brotherband competition.  Hal is only half Skandian and throughout his young life has been referred to as the "foreigner".  Stig's father abandoned his family and Stig'd developed a reputation as a hot tempered, pugnacious son of a thief.  Ulf and Wulf are twins with a mischievous streak and a wicked sense of humor that has left their classmates mistrustful.  The other members of the crew have been just as discounted.  But the brotherband training brings these boys together and under Hal's leadership they flourish.  They compete against larger, stronger teams but with ingenuity, loyalty, and their own unique strengths surprise their hometown and surpass all expectations.

The Outcasts is just as much a book about loyalty, friendship, and honor as it is about adventure, Skandia, and youth.  It's a wonderfully written, deeply absorbing, and highly addictive start to another soon to be beloved series by John Flanagan. 

ISBN-10: 0142421944 - Paperback $8.99
Publisher: Puffin; Reprint edition (September 4, 2012), 404 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the New York Public Library.

About the Author:
John Flanagan grew up in Sydney, Australia, hoping to be a writer. John began writing Ranger’s Apprentice for his son, Michael, ten years ago, and is still hard at work on the series and its spinoff, Brotherband Chronicles. He currently lives in the suburb of Manly, Australia, with his wife. In addition to their son, they have two grown daughters and four grandsons.

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