Swashbuckling adventure with mythical Medieval Vikings? Sign me up.
The Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan. Philomel, 2011-present.
- Reading Level: Ages 12-15
- Recommended For: Ages 12 and up
About the Brotherband Chronicles’ Story
Hal Mikkelson is half Araluen and half Skandian. He’s all outcast.
In a society of Viking-esque, burly fighters like the Skandians, a skinny inventor-type naturally doesn’t fit in. When the coming-of-age Brotherband training arrives, Hal forms a team of similar outcasts: boys who each have something that sets them apart from mainstream Skandian society. Their “coach”? Thorn, also an outcast, but an outcast with a lengthy history as one of Skandia’s most formidable warriors–before he lost his hand, that is. As readers will expect, these outcasts form a brotherband to beat all brotherbands. But the first book merely sets the stage.
Ensuing books show Hal and his group (soon joined by Lydia, a girl from a another community) consistently defending the weak, outsmarting the villains, and forging friendships that nothing can sever. Pirates, nefarious villains, slavers, cult leaders, and more are defeated as Hal and his team work together against nearly insurmountable odds, time and time again.
Brotherband Chronicles: More Than Action
Like its companion series, The Ranger’s Apprentice Saga, The Brotherband Chronicles are fun adventure reading that offer solid pictures of heroism and friendship in the midst of the action. Flanagan highlights bravery, self-sacrifice, self control, and the importance of playing to each person’s strengths. Notably, his boys and girls are distinct: the boys are naturally stronger because they are bigger, but the girls are no less valuable. Lydia is quite the sharp shooter and becomes an indispensable part of the battle plan, even while remaining resolutely female.
Perhaps also notable given our current national conversations, the different races and nationalities are definitely factors in these books as the boys travel around to various countries. Consistently in both The Ranger’s Apprentice Saga and The Brotherband Chronicles, actions and character speak louder than race or family history. Villains are villains because they are evil; heroes are heroes because they defend the weak against the wrongful actions of the villains. Different races form coalitions and the different strengths and insight that each brings to the table forms a stronger team in the end.
This series is more violent than The Ranger’s Apprentice, but that fits with the stereotypical image of Vikings and pirates. The Skandians talk like sailors, but their oaths are in the service of mythical gods, such as “Orlog’s beard!” They serve to offer amusing characterization more than they offend.
Perfect for young teens looking for light-hearted summer reading, The Brotherband Chronicles should be readily available at your local library or are easily sourced used. (Please note that, as of this review, I have only read through book 5, so I can’t speak to the content after that. I don’t have reason to suspect significant deviation, but we always encourage readers to read discerningly!)
Overall Rating: 4 (out of 5)
- Worldview Rating: 4
- Artistic/Literary Rating: 4
Related Reading from Redeemed Reader:
- A Review: The Ranger’s Apprentice Series by John Flanagan (the companion series to The Brotherband Chronicles)
- A Book List: Series Fiction for Tweens and Teens
- A review: Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana (a true story of a young man sailing on the high seas)
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