The Invaders (The Brotherband Chronicles, Book 2)
Hal and the Herons have done the impossible. This group of outsiders has beaten out the strongest, most skilled young warriors in all of Skandia to win the Brotherband competition. But their celebration comes to an abrupt end when the Skandians’ most sacred artifact, the Andomal, is stolen–and the Herons are to blame.
To find redemption they must track down the thief Zavac 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. Even Brotherband training and the help of Skandia’s greatest warrior may not be enough to ensure that Hal and his friends return home with the Andomal–or their lives.
I know I’ve said this before, but I’m not sure if it’s possible for me to dislike Flanagan’s books. He has this brilliant ability to strike just the right tone of earnest effort in his characters combined with genuine humor overlaid upon a bed of grave danger that makes it impossible to do anything but flip page after page after page. And I’ll give you that that’s probably why I love it so much. His stories are driven by his characters in the way that life is driven by people. Nothing’s going to happen in the greater world outside of basic survival unless someone stands up and starts building houses or, in this case, takes the ship that he built with his own hands and the handful of peers that he solidified into a crew and leaves home to fight to return what was stolen. Flanagan’s characters have the uncanny ability to grow into everything that I want them to be. Sure, he’s kind of falling into a pattern of who the brains of the operation is versus who the amazingly skilled warrior is, but it doesn’t come off as contrived, but rather an acknowledgment that some of us are better at some things and others at other things. It simply acknowledges the diversity of human skill and it’s done in a way that is subtle. I never once stopped and thought “oh, har, har. I see what you did there.” No, instead I stayed in the story, 100% focused on what was going to happen next.
As to the story, I can’t lie, Thorn kind of stole it for me. His form of dry humor and his indignation over losing a battered old sheepskin were fantastically endearing. Let’s be honest, the story of this book would have floundered had Thorn not been there to quietly steer it from the background. The boys of this tale are delightful and smile-inducing, but they would have devolved into bickering children if Thorn hadn’t stepped in to focus them and bring them back to task. Granted, I was hooked as of the first word on page one, Thorn or no Thorn, but he lent the story an edge of quiet humor that kept not just my eyes glued to the page, but my heart as well.
There’s not much more I can say except for this; this story is a classic Flanagan tale of growing up, honor, courage, friendship, and loyalty. It’s harrowing at times, but in a good way, making the words disappear and instead building a world for you to live in, at least for 430 pages. Compelling doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s enthralling.
5 ink bottles.
Character Believability: 5 Buffys
Character Investibility: 5 Doctors
Pacing/Tension/Urgency: 5 Dresdens
Worldbuilding: 5 Snyders
Language: 5 Feegles
Mystery: 4.5 Sherlocks