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Book Reviews

Book Review: The Caldera by John Flanagan

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Series: Brotherband Chronicles, book 7
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes, Reluctantly

 

Summary (via Goodreads):
The Herons take to the high seas to fend off pirates and rescue the heir to an empire…..

In Hallasholm, Stig is contesting the annual Maktig competition to decide Skandia’s greatest warrior. But a late-night knock on the door brings someone Stig never expected to see again, along with a request the Herons are hard-pressed to refuse: a rescue mission of epic proportions.

Across the ocean, the southern city-state of Byzantos is plagued by a crew of pirates who’ve kidnapped the son of Empress Justina. Slipping out of Hallasholm under the cover of darkness, the brotherband sets sail to recover the boy from his kidnappers, heading south to the island of Santorillos where a near-impenetrable fortress stands atop a cliff, surrounded by a lagoon–a caldera–formed by the crater of a volcano.

In this explosive seventh book in the action-packed Brotherband Chronicles, the Herons battle pirates amid stormy seas as the fate of an empire rests on their shoulders.

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Quick Note: This book contains a Ranger’s Apprentice short story featuring WIll and Maddie that I decided not to read – perhaps in the future I will.

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My Review:
This book could have been so much more.

I love that we get this “confrontation” with Stig’s father, Olaf (kind of obvious who the late-night visitor is after six books). We get a more concrete sense of Stig’s childhood anger and why Olaf left. Stig and his mother were ostracized for a long time because of Olaf’s transgressions, so I too wanted to know why. It was one of those cases where the child should not be punished for their parent’s sins. I admire Stig’s choice to help his father while trying to get to know the man and obtain some sort of closure before passing a final judgement. I had some doubts about that decision but nonetheless supported him.

Despite my immediate dislike for Olaf, he’s one of the most contrasting characters from the Herons in this entire series. He’s also perhaps the most opposing “antagonist.” Olaf does score points for a couple of good deeds done in the story.

This series’ modus operandi. is getting old, causing the reading experience to become lackluster. It’s been like this since book 4 or 5. The Herons travel once more to an unknown but rather cool and beautifully described land (this time, think Byzantine Empire and Constantinople). Hal once more displays his genius as a helmsman but stays humble about it – I still love Hal’s character though. The antagonist is an invader/raider-type force who is easily defeated. And all the while there isn’t much character growth and love is for sure in the air but unacknowledged.

I’m okay with authors using the same set-up in their books, but that only works – in my opinion – if the cast of characters/MCs are different each time. The Brotherband Chronicles is a long series featuring the same principle characters. By this point I’ve feel I know plenty about each character – strengths, weakness, personalities, etc. It’s past time the Herons face a real, irrevocably changing challenge, adversary and/or failure that effects at least a few of the Herons and lingers in subsequent books.

Some small wins for me: the beginning with the Maktig contest, the lovely cover art, continued Ulf and Wolf antics, and the ever faithful/always wonderful Kloof.

I will keep reading this series because I love John Flanagan’s books, his writing and how he creates his worlds and characters. Also, I want to know how the Brotherband Chronicles ends.


My Reviews: The Outcasts (book 1) | The Invaders (book 2) | The Hunters (book 3) | Slaves of Socorro (book 4) | Scorpion Mountain (book 5) | The Ghostfaces (book 6)

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