Australian cover of The Outcasts
|Publisher||Random House (AUS & NZ)
|Published||1 November 2011–|
|Media type||Print (paperback)
Brotherband is a series of fantasy novels written by Australian author John Flanagan. The first book titled The Outcasts was released in Australia and the United States on 1 November 2011 and in New Zealand on 4 November 2011. The series is a spin-off from Flanagan's other, highly popular series Ranger's Apprentice, but it focuses on new Skandian characters.
The book introduces us to Hal Mikkelson, a half-Skandian, half-Araluen boy. His father, Mikkel "Fastblade" died in a raid 10-years-prior, leaving him alone with his mother, Karina, a former Araluen slave freed by Mikkel. She and Hal restore Mikkel's dearest friend, Thorn, to good health after she finds him drunk on the street, wallowing in self-pity about the arm he lost years ago. Six years pass, and Hal becomes a great inventor, carpenter, and natural helmsmen - he builds a ship with a unique sail plan, that can tack into the wind in a better way than most Skandian wolfships (He names it The Heron). Although an outcast because of his heritage, he befriends Stig (A Skandian boy also cast aside because of his father's crimes, while his mother is forced to do others' laundry. He was very short-tempered) whose life he saves, and bonds closely with Thorn, a former drunk. Both boys, Stig and Hal, have a mutual enemy, Tursgud, a self-centred Skandian who boasts about his father being the current Maktig and bullies weaker people than himself. They then enter Brotherband training, a camp which prepares young boys for becoming Skandian warriors.
The training begins with the selections of the Brotherbands, Tursgud quickly forms The Sharks, which consists mainly of his own friends, and another boy, Rolland, forms The Wolves. Although three Skirls are needed, as three Brotherband requires, no one steps forward - although Stig does wish for Hal to become a Skirl, no one seconds his opinion. After the selection process goes by, eight boys remain. They form into another Brotherband, nominate Hal as Skirl, and name themselves The Herons after Hal's ship.
A mysterious black ship comes into the Hallasholm harbour, seemingly very damaged, and on the point of sinking. The captain, Zavac, asks Erak, the Oberjarl of Skandia, if he can stay in port for a few weeks to repair his ship. Erak agrees, though reluctantly. After a series of gruelling challenges, the Heron's brotherband wins the competition, and are allowed the privilege of guarding Skandia's most treasured artifact, the Andomal, for one night. However, Zavac sneaks in and steals the Andomal, and then escaping into the dark. The Heron brotherband are disgraced and disbanded, and are sent to collect their weapons from their tent to return. The Herons agree that they will escape and go after Zavac to return the Andomal. Thorn appears, saying he will go with them.
Hal and his crew are chasing Zavac. After surviving a massive storm, they set out to continue their search for the pirates. They then camp at shelter bay for a few weeks, where they repair their ship and add the Mangler and the hull fin. Thorn also gives them battle drills. Afterward, they go to a small village to stock up on supplies. Meanwhile, Zavac and his crew invade Limmat, a town with a secret emerald mine to sell emerald. Even though it is fortified, Zavac uses a captured trading vessel to get the boom opened and sails through.
While Hal is going back to shelter bay, he thinks he sees Wolfwind and sails south for a day. While heading back they find Lydia, a girl from Limmat who tells them of the pirate attack. Hal thinks it may be Zavac so he continues back to shelter bay. Wolfwind ambushes them but ends up helping them. The next day, they start sailing to Limmat, and when they arrive, they see Zavac's ship. Thus, they hide in the marshes where they find the town's soldiers. Hal forms a plan with the locals and when they attack it is a total success. After the attack Zavac slips away and cripples Wolfwind, but the ship survives.
Hal and the crew start off by sailing to the river Dan in search of Zavac with the grudging assistance of Rikard. As they near the mouth Ingvar gets a fever from his wound. The crew land on shore to cure him. While on shore Rikard escapes but is quickly tracked and captured by Thorn and Lydia. While this is happening, Ingvar is cured with willow tree bark and when Lydia and Thorn return, they are quickly sailing again. While sailing down the River, they stop at Krall. They find evidence of Zavac, but are accused of murdering Rikard. They are cleared and then they are captured by the Gatmeister at Bayrath.
They are imprisoned but Lydia frees them. They then sail down Wildwater Rift and meet up with the SeaHawk. Her captain tells the Herons to stay behind him and the traders and they agree but are attacked by pirates further down river and the Herons save him and the traders. They are rewarded and have a feast at Drogha. Here, Hal finds out about Raguza (where Zavac is hiding) and its rules and regulations. Hal then poses as a pirate and gains entry in to Raguza. The Korpaljo asks what they are up to and they accuse Zavac of cheating them of emeralds. Zavac is called and an argument starts but the Korpaljo breaks it and takes half of Zavac's emeralds. Zavac then arranges for them to be killed but the assassins are fought off and in the following day Zavac is expelled from Raguza but Hal challenges Zavac to a ship battle. The Herons win and return to Hallasholm.
Slaves of Socorro
Hal and the Herons have returned home to Skandia after defeating the pirate captain Zavac and reclaiming Skandia's most prized artifact, the Andomal. Now Erak believes it is time for them to once again prove their worth. The crew of the Heron is asked to travel to Araleun and be the Skandians that serve in the country for the next year. Before they can arrive though, an old face returns. Tursgud, leader of the Shark Brotherband and Hal's constant opponent, has gained his own ship, and with his crew he's turned from a bullying youth into a pirate and slave trader. When Tursgud surfaces in Araleun and takes 12 citizens to turn into slaves, the Herons dispatch and pursue him with the help of one of Araulen's finest Rangers, Gilan.
Hal, his Brotherband crew, and the Ranger Gilan have freed the twelve Araluens sold into slavery. After reaching the Royal Palace, the group is given a mission none of them expect. Princess Cassandra has recently survived an attempt on her life. Now whispers of a second attempt have reached the kingdom, and the deadly sect known as the Scorpion Cult is believed to be the culprits.
Not wanting to take any risks, King Duncan orders the Brotherband and Gilan to track down the would-be killers. However Gilan won't be working alone. Old friends will reemerge to take on this new threat as the worlds of Ranger’s Apprentice and Brotherband join forces in battle!
- Hal Mikkelson — Hal is the main character of the series. He is half-Araluen and half-Skandian. Hal's father Mikkel was a successful Skandian warrior. Unfortunately, he was killed in a raid, leaving Hal and his Araluen mother living alone. Hal's mother was a former slave and now owned an inn/eating house. When Hal became 10 years old, Thorn, who went into a depression after Hal's father's death and the loss of his arm, became a mentor for Hal. He gave him weapons during Brotherband training and brought out his full potential(as well as his crew's) in fighting skills. Due to his mother being an Araluen, he looked different than other Skandians, and was ignored and bullied by his peers. Hal is a resourceful person; he is the inventor of the double triangular sails which act similarly to seabirds' wings. It is also with the inspiration of seabirds that Hal names his ship Heron. He is also the person who is mainly responsible for the liberation of Limmat and nearly lost his life while trying to save the Town and retrieve the Andomal from Zavac after its stolen from under their noses. Hal is also a very good swordsmen and accurate with a crossbow. He is a great Navigator and Helmsmen and is smarter and quicker thinking than most other Skandians. A running gag throughout the books is Hal's tendency to miss out "little details" on his inventions, which promptly causes them to break and generally creates a mess, a fact that Stig and Thorn are fond of teasing Hal about.
- Thorn — Thorn is a close friend of Hal's father, Mikkel. He lost his right hand during a storm at sea and was, in his early years, the Maktig (meaning "the Mighty One", a title for the greatest warrior in Skandia) three years in a row, which no one had ever done (the longest running besides him was only one year). Before that, he and Mikkel competed for Karina's affections, though Thorn lost to Mikkel, with Karina later becoming Hal's mother and Mikkel's wife. Despite so, Thorn bore no grudge over the matter, though he admittedly did consider how it would have been if things turned out differently at some point of time. He was described as an "old drunk" by the Skandians due to the fact that he drank excessively after he lost his hand and death of his friend. Karina, gave Thorn a job and stopped his drinking habit. She allowed Thorn to live in their lean-to and look after Hal as he needed "a man's influence and guidance". Soon, Thorn stopped drinking and found himself to be a helpful person. Hal makes a custom hook to place over his arm, and a war club to fit replace the hook when in battle. It gives him an extra edge in battle once more, and brings out his potential as a warrior. Thorn is greatly admired by the Heron crew as well as Lydia, who consistently believes that despite the loss of his hand and losing the title Maktig because of it, Thorn was still the greatest warrior of all. Thorn disposes his treasured Skandian Warrior headgear- a massive horned helmet he had worn for thirty years, in the third book, choosing instead to don on the Heron's black watch cap as a member of the Heron Brotherband, which displayed the sheer amount of loyalty he held to the Heron crew despite the difference in age.
- Mikkel "Fastblade" — Mikkel was Hal's father, but died from a spear when Hal was young. He lost his life during a raid with Erak's crew, struck by a spear thrown by a sneaky townsman. It hit him under the arm and he died soon after. Mikkel and his best friend Thorn were Erak's most trusted and reliable warriors. With his dying breath, Mikkel made Thorn promise to look after his wife and child. Mikkel was a very skilled swordsmen and was faster than the average Skandian. It is revealed in the second book that he and Thorn had fought over Karina before, though Karina ultimately chose Mikkel over Thorn, and conceived a child which they named Hal.
- Karina Mikkelswife — Karina is an Araluen slave who was freed by Mikkel, and later married him.. She is very beautiful and is sought out by many Skandian men. She is a loving and kind mother, although she usually disapproves of her son Hal's ideas (especially when they involved her kitchen). She brought Thorn out of his drinking habits and set his life back on track and also gave him a job. Karina runs an eating house in Hallasholm. In her early years, Karina's feelings were vied for by both Thorn and Mikkel (a scene later commented to be like Hal, Stig and Lydia's scenario). It was implied in the third book that Karina had struggled over whom to pick and had spent a long time over it, though she picked Mikkel in the end and bore his child named Hal.
- Stig Olafson — Stig is Hal's best friend and first mate of Hal's crew. He met Hal when he was stealing lobster and slipped into the ocean near Hal's fishing spot. Stig, unable to swim, was saved when Hal jumped in and pulled him out of the water, thus starting their strong bond and friendship. Stig is treated as an outcast because his father had stolen money and jewels from his crew's wolfship, then disappeared without a trace, not telling anyone where he was going. His mother works as a washerwoman, which he is embarrassed about. Stig has a habit of losing his temper but learns to control it through time. He is very athletic and considered the best warrior in the Heron Brotherband, though he never lets this get into his head and still respect Hal's decisions as the skirl. Stig tends to be awkward around girls his age, in which he either speaks too little or much. It is hinted and shown that he has feelings for Lydia just like Hal, though he refuses to let it come between him and Hal.
- Tursgud — Tursgud is the antagonist in the first book. He is the leader of the Shark Brotherband. Notorious for his arrogance and cruelty, he is disliked by the members of the Heron and Wolf Brotherbands, as well as most of the sharks. His father is the current Maktig which gives him even more to boast about. In the third book, he openly insults the Heron Brotherband again out of jealousy and went as far as to call Lydia a "scullery maid", prompting Ingvar to knock him out in a single blow.
- Rollond — Rollond is a fair person who knows whats right, and has common sense. For this, he is popular and is liked by many people. He is the leader of the Wolf Brotherband and dislikes Tursgud. He helped the Herons on numerous occasions, but his team was disqualified from Brotherband training because their ship was ruined in a navigation test during an unsuccessful tacking maneuver. Since they couldn't compete in the last task, they were disqualified.
- Erak Starfollower — Erak captained the ship, Wolfwind, that Mikkel and Thorn served on. He is now the most powerful person in Skandia, the Oberjarl. Erak has a comical bond with Thorn; while the two insult and tease each other, they clearly still hold a close friendship and care about each other. Erak's nose is considered to be a "trifle on the large side", in which he dislikes any reference to it. He is a respected warrior and is inseparable from his ship, The "Wolfwind".
- Ingvar — Ingvar is an extremely strong and solidly built sixteen-year-old boy who is good at fighting but has problems with eyesight meaning he would do more harm than good in battle. He is in Hal's brotherband, the Herons, and the only person who can load Hal's giant crossbow, the Mangler because of his immense strength and muscle. He is extremely loyal to Hal and has enormous faith in Hal's abilities as a warrior and Navigator. He is also close to Lydia, who joined the crew after her grandfather's death. Despite his poor eyesight, he is able to differentiate between the Heron crew members and enemies by the watch hats Edvin knitted, and has also learnt to see without the need of using his eyes (taught by Thorn), simply by closing his eyes and envisioning the scene clearly as it is.
- Jesper — Jesper is one of Hal's crew in the Heron Brotherband. Jesper was a thief and has been known to steal bracelets off people's wrists while talking to them just to prove he had the skill. He does however always return them, just because he likes the joy of it. Jesper is also a very fast runner as people do not appreciate him stealing their things, but known to complain (which has sparked Hal, Stig and Thorn's ire on several occasions). He also is very good at picking locks and stealth. Despite leaving those days behind him, he still keeps his lock picking tools, which he uses to break them out of jail in the third book.
- Edvin — Edvin is a member of the Heron Brotherband. When he disagrees with people he makes it quite clear. He is usually the first member of the Heron's to voice thoughts, his tongue some times getting him into trouble. Despite his small build, he is quite resourceful and skilled at cooking. He trains as a healer for a couple of weeks during Brotherband Training, and helps save Ingvar's life when the boy was shot by an arrow. Edvin is also trained as the helmsman in battle when Hal's using the Mangler and Stig is boarding enemy craft. He also knows how to knit (an activity that was, at first, mocked by his friends), but is later paid by Hal to make the crew; including Lydia and Thorn, dark wool watch caps as the Heron's headgear. The caps later gain a new Heron patch on them.
- Stefan — Stefan is the wise-guy and mimic of the Herons. He regularly makes impressive comebacks, and when you hear someone, you can never tell if it's he/she or Stefan. He is a sail handler and rower on the Heron. He likes and admires Hal for his leadership skills and qualities. His sharp wit is only aimed at those who have large egos or boastful without being able to back it up, like Tursgud. In the third book, he created a saga entitled "The Saga of Hal and the Heron Brotherband." along with Jesper, which they sung at the party celebrating the Heron Brotherband's return.
- Ulf and Wulf — Ulf and Wulf are the two twins in the Heron Brotherband and are sail handlers for the Heron. Unlike most twins, there is no special bond between them. They swear at each other and make nasty remarks about the other's appearance (even though they look exactly the same so no one, not even their mother, can tell them apart) and are constantly fighting. However, when sail handling, they work like well oiled clockwork, a fact that surprises Hal. They also obey the rule laid down by Hal which says they can't fight on board ship, on the grounds that they don't want to be tossed overboard by Ingvar. Despite trying to get each other in trouble and fighting regularly, if someone tries to harm one of the twins, the other twin will turn on him/her with vengeance. Despite their antagonising, Ulf and Wulf do hold a special bond, and it is hinted that they some times argue on purpose simply to amuse the Heron Brotherband and lift their spirits when a difficult task lay ahead.
- Sigurd — Sigurd is the organizer of brotherband training. He along with three others (one for each brotherband) run the show.
- Zavac — Zavac is a captain of the Magyaran pirate ship Raven. When he arrives at Hallasholm, he calls himself a trader whose ship is supposedly damaged, in order to steal the Andomal, Skandia's most prized artifact right under the noses of the Heron Brotherband. He also raided the town Limmat to steal the secret emerald deposit that is hidden there. He is brutal and merciless, with no qualms about betraying his fellow pirates. During the invasion of Limmat, he abandons his fellow pirates to save his own life and keeps all of the treasure. He is eventually hunted down and killed by the Herons when they reclaim the Andomal, Thorn made sure he went down with his ship (by trapping him in his sleeping cabin), the Raven when he was about to kill Hal during the ship duel.
- Lydia — 16-year-old Lydia lived in the town of Limmat, and has long dark glossy hair and olive skin, and is described by the Heron crew as quite beautiful. In the battle led by Zavac, her grandfather was killed while trying to defend the city. She leaves her home and helps the Herons in the battle against Zavac and goes hunting for Zavac after deciding to leave Limmat after the battle with the Heron Brotherband. She is extremely accurate with an atlatl and an expert tracker due to her hunting background. Thorn admires the younger girl greatly and to tease her as a sign of affection and respect. Lydia's affections are generally fought for by both Hal and Stig, of which she showed great reluctance to choose between them until Karina advises her not to be in a hurry to do so until she knew and was ready. It is hinted she does have an interest in them as more than friends when she shows slight jealousy upon seeing Hal and Stig receiving much attention from other girls. Lydia later displays a more girlish side of her when she despairs over what to wear to the party of Hallasholm with Karina coming to her aid.
- Barat — Barat is the commander of the town guard in Limmat. He is extremely arrogant and has no faith in Hal or his crew. After the taking back the town, he takes credit for the attack and announces he will marry Lydia (who later leaves) and it is thought that he will run for mayor after the previous mayor's death during the pirate raid.
- Rikard – Rikard was the first mate to Captain Nagy, a magyaran captain. He reveals the location of Zavac and attempts to escape but is caught. At Krall he is killed by Vargas for betraying Zavac.
- Vargas – Vargas is the loyal third mate to Zavac. He was at Krall buying rope for the Raven but spots the Heron's and warns Zavac that they are being followed. Then in Raguza he leads the ambush on four of the Heron's and is killed.
- Andras – Andras is the second mate of the Raven . He thinks that Zavac is not in tune with his ship and is not a good helmsman and that only speed had saved them from the Heron but if they versed a ship with similar speed, they would lose which he ends up being correct. He is killed in the battle against the Heron.
- Mihaly – Mihaly is a pirate and now Korpaljo of Raguza. He is a deadly opponent with great skill in swordsmanship, and using his daggers as well as fast and agile. He is very controlling and hates it when things don't go his way, but he is fair and will not hesitate to protect Raguza.
- Mannoc – Mannoc is the captain of the Seahawk. He is a part of a ship escort service which protects traders for a fee from pirates and outlaws. He also knows a lot about Raguza and tells Hal what the rules in are in Raguza and how to gain entry. He is infamous in Raguza for destroying many ships and he is a deadly enemy.
- Kloof – Kloof is a mountain huge dog that Hal ran into in the fourth book. She is was a rescue dog and is now Hal's pet. She loves to play tug-a-war with the Heron crew. She also chews on anything she can get her teeth sunk into. She loves to play games and cant sit still. She is very fond of Hal. Kloof also takes part in battles and is very vicious.
- The Andomal — This is a huge amber sphere (about 25 centimeters in diameter) with a reptilian claw in the middle believed to come from a dragon. This artifact has been treasured by Skandians for centuries and is kept in a shrine (the Tabernacle) on a hill close to Hallasholm. It is then stolen by Zavac and his crew while the Heron Brotherband is guarding it.
- The Heron — The Heron is Hal's ship. Hal was helping a ship-maker build it, and it was originally intended for an old man who later died. Then, as he wanted a ship, Hal bought it and finished building it, but adding a few of his own inventions. The ship is about half the size of a regular Skandian wolfship and carries 8 oars aside. He outfitted the ship with several upgrades, one being his ingenious triangular double sail plan which allows him to sail about 45 degrees into the wind instead of only 15, three times more than a normal wolfship. Because Hal based this design off of a heron (because of its wing shaped sail, and how it makes his ship glide over the water like a bird), he named his ship after a heron. Another upgrade is a daggerboard (fin) that is slightly off centre which is inserted through the bottom of the boat; this allows the sail handlers to trim the sails even more and get a greater speed out of the boat. The last improvement to the Heron is a giant crossbow, the mangler, at the front of the ship, which is on a swiveled platform, but difficult to handle unless you are very strong. This puts Ingvar in charge
of loading it.
- The Raven — The Raven is a Magyaran pirate ship that is captained by Zavac. It has a black hull and a large metal ram at the end of it. This ship is very fast and with its ram, it is a force to be reckoned with. It has 10 oars to a side, which makes it good for handling, and raiding other ships. Zavac has a small sleeping quarter where he keeps personal valuable items, such as the Andomal.
- Wolfwind — Wolfwind is Erak's beloved ship. This ship served Erak for many raiding seasons but when he became Oberjarl, he had to give the ship to his loyal first mate Svengal while he wasn't raiding. In the second book, the Raven nearly sinks Wolfwind with its ram, but Wolfwind is saved by the Heron Brotherband who had to make the difficult decision between the fellow ship or Zavac escaping. The Heron saved it just in time.
- The Porpoise – The Porpoise is a Skandian trading ship that is used for brotherband training. It is captained by Tursgud who used it to win the first navigation competition, when the Heron gave up the lead to save the Wolf Brotherband and their ship.
- The Seahawk – The ship of Mannoc. This ship is an escort for traders and is a good fighting vessel and has a square sail.
- Battleaxe – A specialised axe designed for fighting. This weapon is extremely popular in Skandia.
- Sword – A weapon good for stabbing and slashing. Used by Skandians who have a small build. It is also used around the world in many different places, but design and technique varies..
- Broadsword – A larger version of a sword and used with two hands. Deals more damage because of the added weight, but is more difficult to wield. Like the axe, it is fairly popular with Skandians.
- Spear – A long wooden pole(varies in size) with a sharp metal blade. An excellent weapon as it can be used as a pike or lance. These are popular with Skandians although not as much so as the axe or broadsword.
- Atlatl – An unusual weapon with a wooden handle that helps to throw metal tipped darts longer distance, and is quite effective if in the hands of an expert. It is not heard of to be wielded by Skandians, but is used by some people.
- Longbow – A long bow that can shoot over great distances, which varies depending on draw weight. Skandians do not use these often, but archers in other countries such as Araluen do.
- Crossbow – A bow propelled by a trigger that can cover varying distances depending on size and type/power of string. It is very rare to find crossbows in Skandia but they may be found in the plunder of Skandian raiders. Used only by only a handful of people.
- Saxe Knife – A large broad knife used by most Skandians and rangers. It serves as an excellent tool as well as a weapon if regular weapons are not in reach.
- Mangler – A giant crossbow mounted on top of the Heron. It was created by Hal and named by the crew. It shoots long iron bolts or fire bolts that deal a great amount of damage and is very hard to load, and is loaded by the strongest on the ship, Ingvar.
Places of interest
- Hallasholm – The capital of Skandia. This is the where Erak rules the whole of Skandia as well as an excellent harbor. The Andomal is also kept here, until Zavac steals it right under the noses of the Heron Brotherband after winning the Brotherband training. For this reason, they chase Zavac to gain back the Andomal as well as their honour.
- Shelter Bay – This is where Hal and his crew shelter from the massive storm that hits the east coast of the Stormwhite begins. The crew start to fight and bicker while staying here because of lack of activity, but Thorn begins training them in speed, agility and weapon skills to enhance their skills learned in Brotherband training. This is also the birthplace of the Mangler and the center lee board, both Hal's inventions to increase their chance of beating Zavac when the time comes.
- Skeagall – A small trading village where Hal and his crew travels to for supplies. They hear vague rumors of pirates from here.
- Limmat – A large town next to a harbor. This town is extremely well fortified with a large palisade, two large watch towers and a massive boom across the harbor mouth. This town is fairly normal except for one thing, it has a secret emerald mine at the bottom of the cliff in a "barn" behind the town. This was a secret to Zavac until he tortures a gallican trader who eventually gives in and tells him.
- Raguza – A large, wealthy "city", the capital of Magyara, that gives pirates and raiders a place of safety for a price of one tenth of their plunder. It is ruled by the Korpaljo (Mihaly), the leader of the Korpal who rule the town. Although there are multiple people in the Korpal(Which means Circle) the only real power is bestowed upon the Korpaljo. Although, the Korpal are the only people who can elect a Korpaljo, and have an influence on the town, though not as much so as the Korpaljo. It is a peaceful place with no fighting allowed, for the sake of keeping the city sane and doesn't tear the city apart (because as we all know pirates aren't known to get along well with others).
- Krall – A small river town with a rope manufactory plant on the river Dan.
- Bayrath – A large town governed by the Gatmeister (a mayor) on the River Dan. Here the river narrows and a boom stretches across the river. A hefty fine is paid to the Gatmeister to go through to the other side.
- Drogha – A general town on the river Dan home to a fighting ship escort service.