Title: The Ghostfaces (Brotherband 6)
Author: John Flanagan
Publication Date: 2016
Hal and the rest of the Heron crew have just departed Castle Dun Kilty in Clonmel after securing King Sean’s signature on the treaty renewal between Clonmel and Skandia. Such missions are common for Hal and his crew, as the ship and the crew are fast and reliable. However, as the crew sets out for home, they encounter a terrible storm. Thrown adrift and moving further and further from land, the ship and its crew are tossed about for eight days. When the skies finally clear, Hal realizes that he has no idea where he is and their water supply is in serious danger of running out. In an effort to save his ship and his crew, Hal sets course out into the uncharted waters of the Endless Sea, from where no sailor has ever returned.
As the crew is about to lose all hope, land is sighted. A river is found and the crew sails upstream to find a seemingly uninhabited land full of fresh water, plenty of game to hunt, and a sandy beach on which to make repairs. As Lydia is out hunting, she makes two very surprising discoveries. One is that a very large bear is roaming the forest, and two is that there is evidence of other humans. The crew encounters the bear in the woods and again when it attacks their camp. When it comes back again, the crew finds that it has chased two small children up a tree. Using a secret weapon on the Heron, the crew kills the bear and the children escape unharmed.
Soon, Mohegas, leader of the Mawagansett people, comes to the camp to offer friendship and appreciation for the crew’s defeat of the bear and rescue of the children. The Heron crew is shocked to discover that the Mawagansett people speak in the common tongue until they meet Orvik Eelcatcher, a Skandian who was deserted on the island when his ship was lost in a storm twelve years prior. As the crew and the Mawagansett people join together for food and fellowship, a common friendship and appreciation is formed. The land, though primitive of weapons and transportation, seems idyllic.
But, not all is perfect. The Mawagansett people are haunted by the attacks of the fierce Ghostface tribe from the north. Every few years, they come destroy the crops, kill the villagers, and burn the community, and it is soon evident that they are on the warpath again. In the past, the woefully outnumberd and peaceful Mawagansett people have hidden and allowed their homes to be destroyed, but this time they have Skandian warriors on their side. Will that be enough to defeat this violent and brutal tribe?
So . . . you know how much I love John Flanagan books! Finished this one in one sitting!!! The Brotherband series is a spin-off of the Ranger’s Apprentice Series that focuses on a young crew of Skandian sailors. Although there are a few crossovers of characters and it is the same universe as Ranger’s Apprentice, the Brotherband series focuses on the lives and customs of the Skandian people. I admit when I read the first two books, I enjoyed them but they didn’t hold the same appeal for me as the Ranger’s Apprentice. By the end of book 3 however, I was just as hooked on these and I think this book 6 might be the best yet.
Coupled with John Flanagan’s amazing creation of a world and realistic, descriptive details, these stories follow a crew of misfit sailors who come together to truly create a team and a family. As a sailor, I appreciate the nautical explanations and adventures, but Flanagan uses such amazing detail that even someone unfamiliar with sailing can truly visualize what is happening. I also enjoyed his lush description of the new land and its inhabitants.
The characters of Hal, Stig, Thorn, Lydia, Stephan, Jesper, Ulf, Wulf, and Kloop continue to grow and develop as both individuals and as a crew. I enjoy how each is truly a unique personality and that characterization is very evident throughout the story. Ranger’s Apprentice fans will enjoy references to old favorite characters and familiar places.
On a side note, this is my 100th blog post; how fitting that it should be one of my favorite authors!
Who might like this book:
It is not necessary to have read the Ranger’s Apprentice series first, but seriously, why wouldn’t you??? Great series for all ages; truly John Flanagan is my favorite author! I know that I have said this before, but you MUST . . . seriously, I won’t talk to you ever again if you don’t . . . read the entire series in order.
The Ranger’s Apprentice Series in Order:
Book 1: The Ruins of Gorlan
Book 2: The Burning Bridge
Book 3: The Icebound Land
Book 4: The Battle for Skandia
Book 5: The Sorcerer of the North
Book 6: The Siege of Macindaw
Book 7: Erak’s Ransom
Book 8: The Kings of Clonmel
Book 9: Halt’s Peril
Book 10: The Emperor of Nihon-Ja
Book 11: The Lost Stories
Book 12: The Royal Ranger
Book 1: The Outcasts
Book 2: The Invaders
Book 3: The Hunters
Book 4: Slaves of Socorro
Book 5: Scorpion Mountain
Book 6: The Ghostfaces
The Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years
Book 1: The Tournament at Gorlan
Book 2: The Battle at Hackham Heath (Coming November 29, 2016)!!!!