The Outcasts by John Flanagan
Series: Brotherband Chronicles #1
Genre: Young Adult, adventure
Published on November 1, 2011
Published by Philomel
Read From: 11.2.11 - 11.4.11
Hal never knew his father. A Skandian warrior, he died in battle when Hal was a young boy, but his reputation lives on long after death.
Hal, unlike his esteemed father, is an outcast. In a country that values physical strength over intellect, Hal's ingenuity, and the fact that his mother was an Araluen slave, only serves to set him apart from the other boys his age.
The one thing he has in common with his peers? Brotherband training. Forced to compete in tests of endurance and strength and to learn the skills needed to become a Skandian warrior, Hal discovers that he's not the only outcast in this land of seafaring marauders. And that his battle for acceptance has just begun.
The first installment in John Flanagan's new companion-series to Ranger's Apprentice was far more promising than I was anticipating. Readers are introduced to an entirely new set of characters, each with their own unique personality, albeit fairly cliche personalities. And while I found myself not especially attached to any particular boy by the end of the book, I also didn't find myself hating any of them, with the horrible urge to claw my own eyes out every time they spoke in the book. Thanks to my fandom of BBC's TV show Top Gear, I found myself laughing every time Hal's friend, Stig, was mentioned (anyone who knows anything about Top Gear will understand why), but that was no fault of the Author's.
It's hard to compare this writing of the Brotherband Chronicles and that of Ranger's Apprentice, because the Brotherband Chronicles has a different feel to Ranger's Apprentice. Flanagan still goes into a lot of unnecessary detail, which is a flaw most now-days authors have, and I was at first concerned that this book would have no real storyline beyond the Brotherband training (which, I'll admit, was a little painful to read, because it felt like a mixture of Basic Training and a summer camp, but kind of entertaining at the same time). But a storyline is introduced, and it actually gives a lot of promise for the series as a whole. Flanagan just might succeed with this one!
My main complaint? Well . . . Unlike most authors who attempt seafaring stories, John Flanagan did take some effort to a little research into "sea terms," which I thank him from the bottom of my heart for. However, despite his research, he still fell in areas, and as always, it grated on my nerves. The most aggravating mistake was his insistence on calling the lines - like the bowline - rope. "Rope" and "line" are not interchangeable. Lines have a use; they secure boats to moorings, serve as rigging, form ratlines and shrouds, and other such services. Rope is not in use. Call me picky, but this is a mistake that cannot be overlooked. Flanagan also interchanged "starboard" and "right side", as well as "port" and "left side." Technically, I suppose they mean the same thing, but you'll catch no sailor using them interchangeably, and I realize that most Readers will not know what starboard and port means, but the Author inserted a "nautical dictionary" at the beginning of the book for a reason.
But ignore my complaints if you wish. Overall, I think The Outcasts was an amazing success, and I hold high hopes for the series. Those of you who tired of the number of books in Ranger's Apprentice, I would encourage you to read this book; give it a chance. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Others in the Brotherband Chronicles:
4)Slaves of Socorro