By Rafique Shabbir
“The Brotherband Chronicles: The Outcast,” written by John Flanagan, the same author of the “Rangers Apprentice” series, is the first book in the Brotherband series. The book was released on November 1, 2011, in Australia and the United States.
The story is about a young 16-year old boy named Hal. Hal’s mother was a foreigner slave from another land, but was bought out of slavery and married to a Skandian warrior named Mikkel, Hals father, who died when Hal was 5 years old.
Growing up, Hal struggled to fit in with the rest of the other boys. Hal was raised in a country which valued strength above all. This was something that Hal lacked, making him an outcast from the others. Where he lacked strength, he made up for in mind. 16 years old, Hal prepares for brotherband training, where he and everyone else his age are put into teams and compete in games of strength, agility, hand-eye coordination, and most important of all, sailing. When the teams are being chosen, Hal finds himself left with other outcasts, and together they form their own brotherband. Through their training, Hal and the crew strive towards winning the competition and trying to fit in with the others.
The book is a fantasy fiction book, taking place in a medieval setting. Hal is the main character, who works with other characters, each not too different from the other in the sense that strength isn’t their high point, and they share other unique abilities (Jesper, for example, is a thief, and Edvin, a book worm). Together, they combine their own skills to surpass challenges, but not always succeeding.
The great thing about the book is that it moves at a fast pace, but fleshes out characters very well. The book has some sailing parts to it. The first page of the book has a list of sailing terms that you can familiarize yourself with, and even if you don’t know any sailing terms, you will still be able to comprehend references.
The book really fulfills its purpose as the exposition of the series, and paves the way for the later books to come, which have a more serious objective, with more potential consequences.