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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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This is the brand new title and a new beginning for a whole new set of main characters within the world of John Flanagan as he concentrates on a band of Skandian boys learning to become sea wolves. As with the other stories it's about adversity, it's about friendship and above all else it's a story where the characters learn to utilise their own sets of skills to aid the group as a whole buoying up the others weaknesses with their own strengths.

Add to this John's usual style of fast pace with spartanesque prose and a wonderfully simplified explanation about sailing (which to be honest made a lot more sense than a lot of the stuff in adult books) and it was a title that really spoke to fantasy side as the characters within took the reader on a whole new adventure which has a Young Adult David Gemmell type of feel. My only gripe was that there wasn't a lead female within in much the same way that the roles were fulfilled in the Rangers Apprentice. With luck that will be fixed in the next book which I really can't wait to read.
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VINE VOICEon 11 February 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As this is a YA book, I gave it to my 15 year old daughter to read. This is what she says ...

In Skandia boys are trained in brotherbands. These are made in the time tested tradition of picking the team leaders (skirls) who then take it in turns to pick who they want from the group, each trying to make sure he doesn't get the fat one. But in the year of Hal's brotherband training only two skirls are nominated when they have enough boys for three teams. The stereotypical, mildly sadistic PE teacher (or trainer in this case) decides that he will let the two skirls take their pick of the boys and those remaining can form another team. So this means that Hal, an outcast half Araluen, different from Skandias and his best and only friend Stig are stuck in a team of the boys that no-one wanted. It gets worse for Hal when they decide he should be their skirl, but as the weeks of training and tests progress he finds that he is a born leader, and the team that nobody believed had a chance is in the running to win, even if it's not a sure thing.

I just thought I better mention that I haven't read The Rangers Apprentice, so this review has nothing to do with that series. This is a good book if you want action, and adventure, but not exactly great literature, and in my opinion books like the 'Thieftakers Apprentice' by Stephan Deas or 'The Spooks Apprentice' by Joseph Delaney (I know, so many apprentices!) by Joseph Dealany are much better written and have far more complexity of plot. However this book is still good in terms of giving the reader an exciting read, definitely a teenage boy book.

What spoiled it for me was the ending, which set it up for the rest of the trilogy. It almost felt as if it was just stuck on so that more books could be written when it would have been a perfectly good book without it. I doubt that I will bother reading the rest of the trilogy.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
'This book is amazing', or so says my 12-year-old son. When it arrived, I was a bit worried about its length as it is over 400 pages, and my son did do a double-take at the size. However, I read the first few pages to him and then he was hooked. Reading only at school in odd moments when he isn't in class or playing with friends, he has read the first 200 pages in just five days. This is wonderful and surprising as he isn't the keenest of readers usually - until now, the only books he has read even sections of on his own are the Percy Jackson books, starting with Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and subsequently the rest of the series (and by the way, the film doesn't do the book justice) and The Escape (Henderson`s Boys). Looks as if I shall have to invest in some other books by John Flanagan. Seb, my son, said it was a pity that they don't read books like this at school, and I must say that it is well written with lovely descriptive passages, and any teacher out there should consider it, though I do admit that its length would be a problem if reading only gets done in class.
In terms of difficulty the book is roughly the same as the Rick Riordan books, which is quite a bit easier than any of the Harry Potter novels but nevertheless a proper junior novel. I would say that a nine-year-old would enjoy having it read to him, and could read it but slowly and with support but it is spot on for a good/competent reader of 12-14 years old.
When I asked Seb what he would do when he finished the novel, thinking he would ask me to buy the next one, he said 'I'm going to read it again from the beginning' and I can't think of better praise.
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John Flanagan ended his "Lost Stories" collection by hinting at a new hero we hadn't yet seen -- a half-Skandian, half-Araluen boy.

And he makes good on those hints with "The Brotherband Chronicles: The Outcasts," the first part of a new series about a "brotherband" of oddball teenagers whom nobody else wants. Flanagan really shows how he's grown as a writer in this book -- while it has lots of training sequences and competitions between the brotherbands, he weaves in a darker tale about very sneaky pirates.

Hal has never fit in with the other boys in Hallashom, due to his mother being an ex-slave from Araluen. So he isn't happy to be starting out the brotherband training that all Skandian boys go through.

He's especially concerned because the arrogant, cruel Tursgud -- who particularly hates Hal -- will be competing against him. Hal has gotten some training in fighting from the one-armed tramp Thorn, but it might not be enough to keep him safe. And on the day when the three brotherbands will be chosen, Hal finds himself the leader of one group -- a group of outcasts that nobody else wants.

However, Hal has ingenuity, charisma and a lot of guts, and his buddies have their own unique qualities -- hot-tempered Stig, half-blind but strong Ingvar, pickpocket Jesper, quarrelsome twins Wulf and Ulf, sharp-tongued Stefan and the quiet Edvin. And as the boys struggle through the training, a mysterious ship filled with Magyaran pirates is plotting to infiltrate Hallashom and steal its greatest treasure...

"The Brotherband Chronicles - The Outcasts" is a thoroughly solid beginning to John Flanagan's new series, especially since it builds on the world he began with in the Ranger's Apprentice series. It also shows how much he's grown as a writer -- it sometimes reminds me of the training-heavy "The Ruins of Gorlan," but the main plot is more evenly dispersed throughout the book instead of being lumped at the end.

And as with his Ranger's Apprentice books, Flanagan creates a solid adventure story with plenty of action (the Heron's wild maiden voyage) and some genuinely grueling training exercises, only SOME of which our heroes will be able to win. But he also leavens it with plenty of humor, such as the trip through Erak's delightfully tasteless storeroom -- which includes a giant chandelier, cherubs, and one of those horrible fountains shaped like a little peeing boy. Urgh.

I was a little concerned that Hal would be too similar to Flanagan's last hero, Will Treaty. However, the only real similarities is that they're small but smart teenage boys -- Hal is a bit fiercer, as well as being a clever inventor who is always improving things (his crossbow, boat sails, etc). Each of the boys is given a distinct personality, with flaws and strengths.

And Thorn is one of the most intriguing, engaging characters -- we first see him as a drunken, suicidal tramp who has lost one of his arms. But we slowly see Hal giving him something to live for, even as Flanagan slowly reveals how he lost his hand and what he used to be.

"The Brotherband Chronicles - The Outcasts" is a delightful, fresh adventure that shows us new facets of John Flanagan's fantasy world, and introduces a new hero that I certainly want to see more of.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Early times, coastal settlements forever under threat. Each year Hallasholm's newest sixteen year olds undergo three months of rigorous, highly competitive training - aim, creation of warriors capable of repelling invaders (and conducting raids of their own). Twenty eight young bloods are divided into three teams (Brotherbands) - two formidable ones of ten, the third of eight unwanteds. The story concentrates on these misfits, headed by "mongrel" Hal....

I know nothing of John Flanagan's other books, but thoroughly enjoyed this one. Hal is a likeable, if vulnerable, hero striving to make something worthy of his motley crew. One warms to them all: hotheaded Stig, the enormous shortsighted Ingvar, quarrelsome twins Ulf and Wulf, wily thief Jesper, mimic Stefan, quiet Edvin. How will they cope with such challenges as a mountain run, tug of war, wrestling, tests of navigation skills? Many excitements ahead! Although exerting immense pressure and swift to deduct points for the slightest shortcomings, the instructors see far more than they let on - who before them are destined to do Hallasholm most proud? What exactly constitutes good leadership?

The novel may be long (440 or so pages), but does not seem so - this a brisk tale full of drama (and humour). Its stirring climax does not disappoint. No chance, though, to relax - a startling (somewhat contrived?) development promptly paves the way for an eagerly awaited sequel.

Involving and fine. Recommended.
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on 7 November 2011

As far as I am concerned John Flanagan has another hit series going. It was exciting and drew you in from the first. Did not want to put it down. The only bad thing is wait till the next book comes out.

It starts out 12 years in the past when Erak is still raiding and two warriors are holding off some fighters whill the rest are taking the treasure to the ship. One is killed and he asks his friend to watch over his wife and boy.

Than it tells a little about Hal his mom Karina and Thorn lives. How Hal became good friends with Stig and how he builds his boat .

Then most of the story is about the Brotherband training camp. How their is 3 teams competting to be the best. Wolves led by Rollond, Sharks let by Tursgud and the Herons by Hal. The first two co-captains were picked but no one second the third so the first two teams picked 10 and the ones no one wanted became the Herons named after Hal boat that 5 of them had worked on and sailed with him. They only had 8 to their team.

Right away you want to root for the Herons the underdogs. Tursgud is spoilled and does not fight fair. It build the story very well and you want to see what happens next. See how they come together and become a team.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is definitely a 'boys' own' story and one which my 9 year old grandson loved. Making the misfits and outcasts the heroes of the tale was a neat twist. My grandson is a keen team sports player but appreciated the points made about inclusivity - which can be a hard lesson for children to learn in a society that seems to be moving backwards in this regard.
This point isn't laboured though, above all, this is a thoroughly action packed and engaging tale.
It moves along at a cracking pace and whilst the sea-based action makes for a limited landscape it doesn't detract from the story.
Suitable for boys (or tomboys) of 8 and upwards who enjoy fantasy tales and are confident readers.
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VINE VOICEon 13 March 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is the first in a series. Teams of boys are picked for a battle that will be dangerous and hard. Full of great characters and a fast moving story great for young adults.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 March 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Book starts by introducing us to the sailing terms used throughout the book this is helpful but took me few times to memorise them.
The plot in my eyes is almost flawless and could use very little improvement.
The story tells of the improvement of Hals character and how he interacts with a society built on strength in arms rather than brains which Hal has plenty of. This is proven through the reading of the book as he designs and makes a few amazing devices, one being a running water system in his mothers kitchen (this ends in disaster and floods the place).
The second and most brilliant is the design of a new type of sail which allows him to steer the ship further into the wind without stopping and astonishes everybody who lays their eyes upon it.
Considering all of the above the book itself I would highly recommend this book and look forward to the rest of the series yet to come.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Got this for my 8 year old. He is a good reader and enjoys reading. Once started he did not want to put it down and for me that is the best indication of that this is a good story. This review is based on what he has had to say about the book. A story of boys facing adversity on their passage to becoming adults and warriors. A sory of comradeship. A book of pace, action, excitement and drama. Sensible to see the book start with sailing terms as these are referred to through the story. he has enjoyed it. I have read him the od chapter and I find myself wanting to read more. A good exciting wellw rittens troy. I will be buying my son the sequel. In my opinion this would be a good book for a child aged between 8 and 11 or 12.
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