Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Series: Brotherband Chronicles, book 1
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Hal has always been an outcast in a country where seamanship and prowess on the battlefield are highly prized among Skandians. His father was a great warrior but his mother was once a slave. Being half Skandian and half Araluen, Hal is physically and biologically deemed an outsider by everyone else.
When it comes time for Brotherband training, he finds himself among others who are banded together as outcasts as well. Knowing that they are at a disadvantage, Hal will have to use his strong ingenuity to prove that they are more than just outcasts and that he is as Skandian as everyone else.
The Outcasts by John Flanagan is an enchanting new adventure and companion series to the Ranger’s Apprentice books. It has all the remarkable aspects of a Flanagan novel fans of his books have come to recognize and love: a creative plot, a compelling protagonist readers can sympathize with, and a believable setting that engrosses and educates the reader.
I really liked Hal’s character. He reminds me of Will from the Ranger’s Apprentice series. Both never knew their fathers who they idolize and aspire to be as great as them. Both, in their own way, are outcasts, their physical appearances preventing them from becoming more than the low opinion others have of them. And both rise to the occasion when they find themselves in roles they never would have considered: Hal, as skirl and leader of his brotherband, and Will, an apprentice Ranger.
Hal is an inspiring character, demonstrating that being different is okay, that you can achieve your goals and become something despite what others think and their efforts to keep you down. I predict that Hal will prove himself to be a great hero to Skandia.
It was nice of Flanagan to include a glossary of sailing terms in the beginning to help readers understand some of the things that was going on. I became more absorbed into the story, which felt more real with the inclusion of the glossary.
I also liked that the story wasn’t solely focused on the brotherband training, showing that there was an undercurrent of danger unbeknownst (for the most part) to everyone. The danger was loosely spaced out in the novel and was brought dramatically to forefront in the end. Flanagan does a great job of setting up this new danger that must be faced in the next book, leaving me wanting to know what happens next.
After reading this book and its dramatic conclusion, I’m very much looking forward to reading the second installment to the Brotherband Chronicles, The Invaders.