Skandia is a medieval world filled with warriors and pirates, battles and adventures, and a bunch of boys trying to find their place in the world.
The story centres on a group of misfit boys who, as part of their coming of age, must endure three months of tough physical training on land and sea to become warriors. Boys are grouped into Brotherbands for the training and all the strongest and most popular kids are chosen first, leaving a group of leftover outcasts to form their own Brotherband.
Hal finds himself as the leader of this motley group and must attempt to lead them to victory against the other more physically capable teams. They endure a series of challenges designed to test their mental and physical strength and battle prowess and must figure out how they can band together to beat the other teams.
Hal’s Brotherband seem like they have no chance, they are the laughingstock of this years’ Brotherband contest. Can Hal find his confidence and his leadership skills? Can his team overcome their weaknesses and find the strength and courage needed to rise to the challenge?
This is a coming of age story about finding your inner strength and confidence and I think most boys will see a bit of themselves in Hal. It’s a great boys’ bonding story with enough challenges and adventures to keep kids engaged and entertained and rallying for the underdogs.
There are a lot of technical sailing references in this one – so many that there is even a sailing glossary at the beginning! I was worried this might turn some kids off but I can assure you that my son absolutely loved this and wasn’t at all phased by the sailing terminology; in fact, he now loves showing off his new vocabulary!
Of course, as with any good series book, this one does leave you hanging at the end and desperate to rush out and buy number 2! Will Hal and his team chase down the pirates and recapture the Andomal to regain their honour and respect? I’ll have to let you know when I’ve read the next one!
Title: The Outcasts (Brotherband #1)
Authors: John Flanagan
Publisher: Random House, $17.99
Publication Date: 1 November 2011
For ages: 9 – 12
Type: Middle Fiction