The Outcasts (Brotherband Chronicles #1)

The Outcasts (Brotherband Chronicles #1)
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Release Date
November 01, 2011
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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.

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Building a strong team of outcasts
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What worked:
In some ways, the book unfolds almost like separate short stories. It opens with a flashback of the death of a Skandian and the subsequent loss of a hand by his crewmate named Thorn. Thorn swears to protect Hal and his mother but the loss of his hand causes Thorn to fall into years of drunkenness. Thorn begins to recover once he finds purpose in his life again and he mentors Hal in the ways of being a Skandian. Hal and other boys his age must go through the Brotherband training where they’ll learn to become Skandian, seafaring warriors. Hal’s brotherband is comprised of boys no one else wanted, hence the label of outcasts. The trials are a time of team-building, learning to use weapons, developing strength and agility, and sailing wolfships as united crews. Hal is also forced to battle a self-absorbed bully until others follow Hal’s example.
Readers are inside Hal’s mind as he struggles to overcome adversity and prove himself to his fellow Skandians. His mother was an Araluen slave so he’s not as large as other Skandians and finds it challenging to be accepted. Despite his size, Hal’s crewmates make him their skirl which identifies him as their leader. Hal reluctantly accepts but readers will share his mental skirmishes as he tries to manage personalities and expectations. The incessant bickering between Ulf and Wulf causes frequent headaches. Hal’s superior thinking and creativity are highlighted as he comes up with innovative designs for the ship he’s built, unexpected strategies during team assessments, and oversees his teammates. While maybe not totally accepted, Hal’s methods are slowly appreciated by the other Skandians.
The Skandian culture is similar to the ancient Vikings as their heritage is founded on sailing and ruling the seas. They wear furs for warmth, carry huge axes in battle, and horned helmets are awarded at the end of brotherband training. Their ships are equipped with large, square sails for capturing the wind and oars can be wielded when needed. Nautical terms are used throughout the book and a glossary is provided in the opening pages. These words are used to describe parts of the ship, directions on board, and sailing strategies such as tacking and running. Readers should review the glossary as it will be an immense help in understanding critical moments of the plot.
The Final Verdict:
This book is the first one in a Ranger’s Apprentice spin-off series. It has emotional relationships between characters (both good and bad), tense moments of conflict, and a build-up to a dramatic climax. The book’s resolution leads right into a sequel where Hal’s brotherband heads out on a dangerous quest to regain their tarnished reputations. I highly recommend you give this book, series, and related series a shot.
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It is awesome
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I think this book is great and I would give it 5 stars. If you are looking for a book with action. Then this is a great book.
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