Book Review: John Flanagan’s The Hunters

Posted December 29, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Middle-Grade readers

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: John Flanagan’s The Hunters

The Hunters


John Flanagan

action & adventure, fantasy that was published by Philomel Books on October 30, 2012 and has 403 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include The Sorcerer in the North, The Siege of Macindaw, Erak's Ransom, The Kings of Clonmel, Halt's Peril, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja, The Lost Stories, The Outcasts, Invaders, The Royal Ranger, Slaves of Socorro, Scorpion Mountain, The Tournament at Gorlan, The Ghostfaces

Third in the Brotherband Chronicles urban fantasy series for young adults. It is an offshoot from Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series.

My Take

This was great! Again. I haven’t yet read a bad book from John Flanagan. And it keeps amazing me that we’re only three books into the series. I feel as though I know the characters so well and been on so many adventures with them, that there must be more than just three books!??

I do love how Flanagan creates such a positive role model with the crew of the Heron and how inventive they all are. I particularly enjoyed the shock various adults received when they realized that Hal was the actual captain of the Heron!

“Must admit, I had a few sleepless moments.”

Thorn raised an eyebrow. “Only a few?”

“Two, actually. One lasted for the first two days. The other for the next two.”

Oh, the knitting! I love it. From ridicule to begging as the boys discover the benefits of Edvin’s labors. I do feel a degree of skepticism about the effects of the willow bark, but I also appreciate the idea behind Flanagan including it. A nice bit of medicinal lore. Hee-hee-hee, Zavac has hoist himself with his own petard! I love it. Oh, then there’s the duel. Oh, yeah!

It takes teamwork and trust for the boys to get as far as they do; a bond they began building at the beginning in Outcasts.

It’s adventure without horror and lots of laughter to be had at the expense of the opposition.

The Story

With Rikard’s help, the Heron follows the Raven to the Dan River. Unfortunately for them, Zavac has left a man behind to pick up an order of rope. And Vargas thinks quickly and acts even quicker, setting all sorts of traps for the boys.

A corrupt mayor who jails them and thinks to steal their ship while planning to enslave Lydia. A whitewater raceway no ship can sail. A pirate haven they cannot enter.

The Characters

Hal leads this merry band of teens as their skirl. The rest of the runaway crew includes Stig, who is Hal’s second-in-command; Stefan; Edvin is their medic and crew cook (Hal intends to train him in steering); Jesper is skilled at thieving and sneaking about; Ingvar is terribly nearsighted and was badly wounded; and, Ulf and Wulf are the argumentative twins who excel at handling the sails. Lydia Demarek is the girl they took on board after the battle in Invaders. She’s quite skilled with her chosen weapons and tracking ability…as Thorn is forced to admit! Old Thorn may be crippled without a hand, but he has more than made up for it. His knowledge and skills don’t require a hand. Besides, Hal’s inventive skills creates all sorts of specialized tools.

Erak is Oberjarl of the Skandians; Svengal is his old friend; and, Karina is Hal’s mother. Tursgud is the former leader of the Sharks brotherband.

Rickard is the Magyaran pirate Thorn captured in Invaders. Vargas is one of Zacar’s men, who stayed behind to pick up an order of rope. He hasn’t any conscience and is quite tricky. Zacar is the captain of the Raven, and the thief who stole the Andomal that the boys were supposed to be guarding. It’s a matter of honor now. The boys have to retrieve it if they ever want to go home.

The Gatmeister is the mayor of Bayrath and Doutro is quite willing to do anything if he’s paid enough. Pedr is a fellow inmate, jailed for winning from Doutro. Dana is Doutro’s cook; Milo is the senior servant; Erlic is the idiot they set to guard Lydia. Mihaly is the Korpaljo of the the pirate haven of Raguza. A former pirate himself, he knows all their tricks and doesn’t tolerate betrayal.

Mannoc is the skipper of the Seahawk, which is guarding a trader convoy. Algon, Freyth, and Crenna are the trader captains.

The Cover and Title

The cover is awash in a churning sea as, I’m assuming, Hal braces himself on the deck of his ship with one knee raised while taking aim with a crossbow. It’s all blue-green seas, the brown of the ship and the wooden arch overhead as well as the brown leathers in which Hal is wrapped. Except for the watch cap on his head, Edvin’s work. I’d’ve been more impressed if the cover artist had Hal getting ready to shoot the Mangler, though.

The title is what this series has been about so far: The Hunters tracking down Zavac and his Raven.