Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Review: The Invaders - John Flanagan

The Invaders by John Flanagan
Genre: YA, adventure
Published on May 1, 2012
Published by Philomel
Pages: 429
Read From: 5.5.12 - 5.11.12

As champion of the Brotherband competition, Hal and the rest of the Herons were given one simple assignment: safeguard the Skandians' most sacred artifact, the Andomel. They failed. 
To redeem themselves, the Herons must track down the thief Zavac and his pirate crew and recover the Andomal. But that means traversing stormy seas, surviving a bitter winter, and battling a group of deadly pirates willing to protect their prize at all costs.


The good news? This installment was every bit as good as The Outcasts. There's a significant improvement in the Author's writing style since the last seven Ranger's Apprentice books. The storyline of The Invaders is exciting, fun, and perilous. Hal is easily just as likable as Will was, and Hal's crew continues to be an excellent supporting cast. Thorn isn't Halt, that's true enough, but I still like him a lot as the "old mentor" type. And I admit, I absolutely love John Flanagan's pirates. He patterned them after the Barbary Coast pirates, therefore making them historically accurate! Compared to Asia and the Barbary Coast, there really were not that many European pirates; they were not the "traditional" pirate in their days. So points to Flanagan for choosing a good model for his! Zavac, also, is a believable pirate captain without being cliche. He isn't the best villain out of the ones Flanagan has written - Lord Morgarath is still my favorite, - but he fits the series. I look forward to seeing how the Herons outsmart him.

However, even with all of the pros, there were quite a few cons as well. The Invaders did not need to be nearly as long as it was. The Author devotes a lot more time to further Brotherband training than is necessary. It's true that in these sections the Reader gets to see the Herons' camaraderie develop, but I think that the Author could have illustrated that perfectly fine in other ways. Battle strengthens bonds between a person in ways training can't. Nevertheless, there was something about these scenes that was enjoyable enough that it didn't make the story drag.

Another con was the appearance of Lydia, our "leading lady." Yes, we have another girl character. I'll make one thing clear: as a character, Lydia is fine. She's not annoying (yet), she can fight without seeming like a macho-woman, and she's practical and doesn't have an attitude. But, she also is not a necessary character. I have yet to see how she adds to the story. It feels like the Author might have just placed her in the story so we girl Readers would have a female character to liken to. I'm not so sure that that was a good idea, especially since there seems to be a potential love triangle surfacing between Lydia, Stig, and Hal. If Stig and Hal end up fighting with each because of Lydia, I will be intensely annoyed, because all three characters are good, and I don't want them getting childish.

My hopes for this series still continue, but I do have some misgivings that I hope will be demolished with Book #3.

Others in the Brotherband Chronicles:
1)The Outcasts
2)The Invaders
3)The Hunters
4)Slaves of Socorro

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