Reviews for Outcasts

Booklist Reviews 2011 November #2
*Starred Review* Set in the Skandia, an alternate, medieval Scandinavia, the opening volume of the Brotherband Chronicles introduces Hal, who has always felt like an outsider but never more so than at the beginning of his warrior training. Two groups of 16-year-olds are chosen first by their leaders, while Hal's group consists of the eight misfits left over. Selected as their leader, he gradually grows into the role, taking advantage of their individual talents and compensating for their weaknesses. Just as they seem to gain the upper hand after grueling military training and intense competitions on land and at sea, a humiliating setback reminds Hal's brotherband of the training's purpose and sends them off to settle a score with a real-world enemy. In this offshoot of the popular Ranger's Apprentice series, Flanagan sets the stage for new adventures, peoples it with a large cast of well-developed characters, and tells a compelling coming-of-age story. Given the glossary of sailing terms that opens the book and Hal's pride in the boat he has helped build and design, readers can expect tales on the high seas. In addition, the new series offers a complex, believable world, a rich sense of camaraderie among thoroughly likable characters, and life-or-death challenges leavened with lighter moments. Once again, Flanagan delivers everything that made his first series so compelling and memorable. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
In this new companion series to Ranger's Apprentice, Hal Mikkelson enters Skandian (read: Viking) "brotherband" training as the leader of a group of underdogs. The band's clever thinking and teamwork--and Hal's revolutionary sail design--propel them to victory. Flanagan's sympathetic characters and meticulous descriptions of the band's training (races, strength tests, military-style discipline, sailing) will gratify boys and tomboys alike.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 October #4

First in the Brotherband Chronicles, a companion series to the bestselling Ranger's Apprentice books, this nautical adventure from Flanagan takes place in the northern land of Skandia. The story concerns Hal Mikkelson, who's half Skandian and half--well, it doesn't really matter. He's considered a half-breed, an "Araluen weasel," which means that he has to work twice as hard as others to gain respect. Having turned 16, Hal must join a brotherband, a group of boys whose entire future--and, most importantly, their status as potential crewmembers and raiders on a wolfship--is dependent on how well they compete against other brotherbands, both individually and as a team. Although he's brilliant, Hal is relegated to a group of castoffs and losers who look to him for leadership. Loosely modeled on Viking culture, the Skandians value courage, seamanship, and brute strength. This enjoyable, old-fashioned tale should have easy appeal for Flanagan's many fans, who are already invested in the world he's created. It features relatable though somewhat minimally developed characters, most of whom are clearly identified as either heroes or villains. Ages 10-up. (Nov.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 February

Gr 6 Up--Hal Mikkelson, 16, is appointed "skirl," or leader of his brotherband, eight seafaring Skandian boys left unchosen by their athletic and popular peers. Disadvantaged by Ingvar's impaired vision, Ulf and Wulf's constant bickering, Stefan's clowning, Jesper's thievery, and Stig's hot-headed impulses, the outcasts become Herons, after the wolfship Hal helped build and later purchased. Encamped to train and compete against much stronger 10-men teams, the Shark and Wolf brotherbands, the outnumbered Herons are bullied by childhood nemesis Tursgud, leader of the Sharks. Action scenes are plentiful as Hal enlists the hidden strengths of each team member to outsmart opponents in tactical competitions. Meanwhile, an unsavory pirate, Zavac, loiters in town, plotting to steal Hallasholm's Andomal, a precious piece of amber. When Erak the Oberjarl, a major character from the "The Ranger's Apprentice" series, entrusts the victorious Herons to sentry duty at the Andomal shrine, it is not surprising that Zavac makes his move. Hal's shame in failing to protect the town's treasure compels him to set sail after Zavac in an ending that is an obvious setup for another installment. Hal's mentor is Thorn, a one-armed, recovering alcoholic with a once-glorious past who promised his mortally wounded friend, Mikkel, that he would look after Hal and his mother. Well developed and vocabulary rich, with endearing new characters and a rousing adventure that assures new episodes, this book will delight Flanagan fans.--Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY

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