Sunday, 21 June 2015

Review - The Outcasts by John Flanagan

10551947Brotherband Chronicles #1
Genre: middle grade, fantasy
Pages: 434
Rating: 3.5/5

Summary from Goodreads
From the author of the international phenomenon Ranger's Apprentice!
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.

My thoughts
The Ranger's Apprentice series is one of my favorite middle grade series. Although I loved that series I was a bit hesitant to start the Brotherband Chronicles, because this series would not have rangers as main characters and because of that I didn't think I would like this series as much. I did indeed enjoy the first Ranger's Apprentice book more than I enjoyed this first book, but it was a lot more fun than I expected it to be. Like the main character of the other series the main character of this book, Hal, is a stubborn boy with a need to prove himself. Hal is an engineer and I thought that was a very interesting aspect of him. Throughout the book some of his inventions are mentioned, but I would have loved to read more about them.
Hal's crew is a diverse group of characters. I didn't get to know them too well, but there is a lot of potential for them to grow into more interesting characters. The twins Ulf and Wulf seemed more like caricatures and I hope they will get more complex personalities in later books.
Brotherband training was an interesting concept and I liked the different tasks the teams had to complete. It wasn't easy to predict how all the competitions would turn out and that kept the story interesting.
The story almost entirely plays around Hallasholm, the capital of Skandia, so I didn't really get to see any of the other places that I've come to love from the other series, but I get the feeling that in later books we will get to see those places again.
What I loved so much about the Ranger's Apprentice series was the humor. When the three characters Will, Halt and Horace were together this always resulted in hilarious banter. Flanagan tried to use Ulf and Wulf in this book as comic relief, but it just wasn't as strong as the banter in the other series. However, Hal definitely seems like a guy who can be very witty when he isn't so self concious, so hopefully he will grow over the span of the books and we will get some witty banter after all!
This book mostly seemed a set up for the rest of the series, but all in all I quite enjoyed it and I will definitely continue with the series.

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