Book Review: John Flanagan’s The Invaders

Posted August 3, 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 Invaders



John Flanagan

action & adventure, fantasy that was published by Philomel Books on May 1, 2012 and has 429 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, The Hunters, The Royal Ranger, Slaves of Socorro, Scorpion Mountain, The Tournament at Gorlan, The Ghostfaces, "The Beast From Another Time", The Caldera

Second in the Brotherband Chronicles fantasy series for kids revolving around Hal Mikkelson and his young crew aboard the Heron.

My Take

Excellent! I don’t wanna hafta wait for The Hunters!!

Flanagan brings a nice depth to this story with a good bit of tension and he has the knack of telling a story with morals and adult guidance without talking down to his readers. Yes, there is violence when the boys have to fight, but it’s not violence for its own sake. instead, it’s about using your head, loyalty, and acceptance of your mistakes. The teasing is easy and the adults treat Hal and his plan as their equal. Well, all but one jerk.

I love that Flanagan has his characters give each other due praise. The boys take chances without fear of ridicule and, even better, they make Lydia welcome on the frontlines.

Huh? I never knew sheets and shrouds meant the ropes? I always thought these words referred to the sails. Thanks, Flanagan, for the humorous glossary at the start! So much better than the back. I mean, who starts reading at the back…wait, yeah, some of you out there actually read the end first… Doesn’t that spoil it??

Thorn takes into account the abilities of the boys and tailors their training accordingly. Could certainly use more teachers and coaches like him! I do like the self-sufficient approach as Flanagan describes how Hal built the Mangler and how the net was made.

The personalities Flanagan has given the boys and Thorn make this a homey read. I know, I know…Viking types? Homey? There is a warmth and a familial camaraderie that will make you a believer! Although the Ulf versus Wulf bit does get somewhat tedious.

I never understand why everyone in a military unit doesn’t understand basic first aid.

The Story

Running through the storm to escape their judgment and find the Andomal before they can return home to Hallasholm and salvage their mistake, young Hal and his crew take refuge in a protected harbor just before they collapse in fatigue.

It’s a good respite as it provides Hal time to invent yet again and Thor trains these young men in the finer points of battle.

Along the way, Hal sorts out the trick of leadership and each of his men learn their strengths and weaknesses. They also save the fair damsel — again and again — as they track down the evil Zavac.

The Characters

Hal Mikkelson is the skirl for the Heron and a very inventive young man. His crew consists of Stig as first mate; Stefan; Jesper is quieter than a whisper and an excellent thief — very useful qualities when you need to sneak about; Ingvar is huge, immensely strong, and near-sighted; Ulf and Wulf are the arguing twins brilliant at trimming the sails; and, Edvin is their medic and chef. Thorn is a one-handed former village drunk. He had been Skandia’s greatest warrior, the Maktig, but the loss of his right hand ended that.

Erak Starfollower is the Oberjarl who ordered confiscation of the Heron and disbanded the boys. Svengal is Erak’s second; he’ll pursue the boys in Wolfwind. Lars Bentknuckle is Svengal’s second.

Zavak is a cruel captain with little affinity for his ship. A fact that Andreas, his first mate, despises. Rickard is now the captain of the Stingray and, oops, looks like he’ll have an important bit part in The Hunters.

Lydia Demarek is 16 and has been hunting for the past seven years. It’s just her and her grandfather now since her parents were killed by pirates. A quick thinker, she’s very skilled with her chosen weapon, the atlatl, and does not welcome Barat’s courtship.

Barat is a good battle commander, but is otherwise too impulsive, has too big of an ego, and is an opportunist. He doesn’t care that Lydia doesn’t want him. Jonas is his second-in-command and much more intelligent. They and thirty-eight of the townspeople managed to escape the slaughter in Limmat.

The Cover and Title

The top third of the cover is an arch of thick wood bordered with rivets and Celtic knotwork stained and outlined across it. Below is a metaphoric collage of action. The Heron tossing in the waves, fire bringing down a tower, and a sense of the tide coming in as Hal, sword in hand and pointed shield in the other, battles Zavac, the pirate who stole Skandia’s greatest treasure.

The title sums it up for Zavac and his Raven crew are The Invaders in this bustling town.