The Outcasts, by John Flanagan

‘Oars! Oars!’ shouted Hal. Even without the sail they still had plenty of momentum and the edge of the mole seemed to shoot by him. He ehard the clatter of wood on wood as the crew ran out the oars. Ahead of him Wolfwind loomed closer and closer. He thrust savagely on the steering oar and Heron’s bow began to swing…But he still wasn’t sure if it was turning fast enough.

Hal Mikkelson has always been a bit of an outcast. his mother was an Araluen slave, and his father, though Skandian, is dead. The only friends he has are Thorn – a recovering alcoholic who was his father’s best friend – and Stig, whose father is a thief. When it comes time for brotherband training Hal and Stigg find themselves grouped with other misfits. Together they must complete their warrior training and compete against two other brotherbands in a series of challenges. There can be only one winner, and no one expects it to be Hal’s group. But what the outcasts lack in strength and numbers, they compensate for in courage and ingenuity.

The Outcasts is the first title in the new Brotherband series from John Flanagan, author of the Ranger’s Apprentice series. The new series is set in the same reality as the older one, and will  appeal to its fans. The two heroes also share similarities. Hal, like Ranger Will, is a misfit who is clever and brave. the pair also both have no father. But in spite f the similarities they are different characters – and the setting and storyline, too, are quite different, offering readers something new, yet still in Flanagan’s popular style. What is the same is the sense of lots of action, an absorbing and diverse cast, and plenty of tension.

Young readers – boys especially – will love the action and the viking village setting, and will wait eagerly for the next installment to see more of Hal and his friends’ adventures.

The Outcasts (Brotherband)

The Outcasts (Brotherband), by John Flanagn
Random House, 2011

This book can be pruchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.