BOOK REVIEWS

The Ghostfaces (The Brotherband Chronicles) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2017-09-28 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 137 user ratings
ISBN:0142427284
LANGUAGE:English

" I love John Flanagan's books. I have told adults and children alike that these are wonderful stories. This is the latest Brotherband story that you cold say is like the vikings coming to America way before other have come to 'discover' a new land. Love the characters and the action. And realize that there is also sadness as there is in life. Can't wait for the next one. " said.

" John Flanagan did it again. At first, I struggled with deciding on whether this deserved 4 stars or 5. However, looking back, I've been on a two-year hiatus from this series but once I read the first page it all came back to me. The plot was innovative and new, not even slightly repetitive to the previous books. I can only say, that this book, this series, is worth every moment and every letter.(view spoiler)[And the ending truly reminds you of the beauty of the brotherband. (hide spoiler)] " said.

"Sixth in The Brotherband Chronicles historical action series for middle-grade readers and revolving around a band of young Skandians, brothers-in-arms who sail the seas.

My Take
There's a sense of Leif Eriksson and his Vikings discovering America in this as well as the attitude of the Europeans about that Endless Ocean. Thorn's explanation of how the world is shaped makes as much sense as any of the others, and it does at least make sense for their decision on which direction they should sail.

It's a sweet and sad story with those elements I adore about Johann David Wyss' The Swiss Family Robinson and David Conover's Once Upon an Island with their can-do, make-do attitude. The interaction between the Herons and the Mawags is warm and so very honorable. I did enjoy how surprised the Mawags were by the Herons' battle skills! And they certainly enjoyed Hal's inventive mind!

As usual, Flanagan's characters are distinct and caring. Parents will appreciate the sense of teamwork as well as each acknowledging each others' strengths and weaknesses.

There really isn't much show in The Ghostfaces. Maybe because the trials the Herons undergo would be too much for kids?? Which doesn't really make sense.

That fight between Stig and Simsinnet was pretty funny. Pretty brief as well, lol.

Stig finally experiences total acceptance and love. And family. Love that turns into tragedy that will make you cry. I know I did, even though — and I really, really hate to say this — I wanted it to happen this way. Hal's decision, too, at the end of the story was sad, but the best choice, really.

The Story
It's a cocky impatience that finds the Herons battling a tremendous storm, struggling for home, and being blown off course deep into the Endless Ocean where they encounter unexpected people and unlooked-for battles of all kinds.

The Characters
Hal Mikkelson is the genius inventor and navigator and the skirl of the Heron and her Brotherband. Karina Mikkelswife is Hal's mother.

The Heron is…
…the ship Hal designed and the boys built. Thorn is an old, one-handed Skandian and their battle leader. Stig Olafson is first mate and Hal's best friend; Edvin is their combat medic, cook, er, chef, and relief helmsman; Wolf and Ulf are the bickering twins who trim the sails; Stefan; Jesper has the skills of a thief; and, the very strong but half-blind Ingvar is doing much better with the glasses Hal invented in Scorpion Mountain , 5. Lydia Demarek is the "brother" who joined them in The Invaders , 2. She's got some amazing skills! Kloof is the dog they adopt in Slaves of Socorro , 4.

The Mawagansett are…
…a Native American* tribe led by Mohegas. Pacahan is his wife. His nephews are Tamorat and Hokas. Romanut is the battle leader. Simsinnet is a champion, hotheaded, warrior who is in love with Tecumsa. Minneka and Lahontas are the children whom the Herons save. Millika and Pillika are twins who love teasing Ulf and Wolf; Sagana; Tecumsa is a beautiful woman; and, Bird of the Forest is laid out on a bier.

Orvik Eelcatcher, a.k.a., Man Who Swims, was shipwrecked twelve years ago when a storm caught Arnulf Sharkfighter's Wolf Foot . He ticks off the Herons!

The Imsinnis skassak the Ghostfaces, are…
…a brutal warrior tribe of Native Americans from the north. Holds a Black Lance is their leader with Crusher of Heads his second-in-command.

Hallasholm, Skandia, is…
…home to Hal and the Brotherband. Erak is their Oberjarl. Svengal is his best friend.

* Flanagan is careful to note that he avoided using terms such as Native American so as to not give offense. My using these terms are my own choice.

The Cover and Title
The cover is a mix of deep browns on the sides and bottom and the yellowish-greens of the forest illuminated by the light which two men bearing weapons, an iron sword and a flint ax, approach. The title and series information are excellent examples of terrible choices for contrast. The companion series information is in white at the top with this series information below it in an embossed dark gold under which is a much smaller title in a deep red. The author's name is at the bottom in a black-outlined brighter gold.

The title is the enemy, The Ghostfaces, who destroy.
" said.

"Yeah I’m a sucker, I know, but yeaaaaaaah dudes, I really enjoyed this. I've been a big fan of Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice books since I was in middle school and when he started the Brotherband books I jumped at the opportunity for more of his action-packed, signature gritty-yet-funny (that's how I feel about all of his books? just ignore me) stories. And, the Brotherband books have yet to disappoint.

This one was really awesome, with the characters continuing to develop into more mature figures. I think that somehow Flanagan does this so slowly, but persistently throughout his books that you don't really realize it's happening (like it's not forced), but suddenly you realize that you're reading the sixth book of this series and wait a second, the characters aren't that little anymore they're like 20 something probably?? When did that happen? And the characters are so lovable and all so different and funny and wonderful.

I feel a little terrible though because my initial solution to every love interest I don't really prefer or like or one that will *cough* take a character away from his brotherband *cough* is to say "maybe they'll die" and then more often than not, they do (which is great since I just want to be rid of them) but I feel like I'm getting a little extreme and out of control–like for example: Sorscha anyone...? I needed to be a little less triumphant about that cause poor Dorian–and back to Brotherband, poor Stig.. *cringe*
" said.

"This book takes the Herons across the Endless Ocean, to essentially a Native American tribe. I always love the exploration of new cultures in this and the RA series. This one felt fresh and new, with the storm as the adversary in the first quarter of the book, and then the bear...after so many books battling people, it was nice to see the stories going a different tack. (However, I do find it hard to stomach hunting of animals, but I realize this is a 'normal' part of survival, and it's only this current time period when we are so far removed from our sources of meat, and have the luxury of just going to the store to buy meat and not seeing where and how our meat got there...at least these wild animals that are hunted had a life outside a miserable factory farm, but still, it was hard to read about skinning and jointing). Of course, it wouldn't be the Brotherband series without some serious battles for these warriors, and we do get one of those with the Ghostfaces. The whole pacing of the book was great (as I feel most of Flanagan's books are...with the exception of maybe Halt's Peril), with just the right mix of action, internal dialogue, and relationship building. Just when things might slow down, something exciting happens.

What really impressed me about this book, though, is the deeper emotional reach of this book, with the story of Stig and Tecumsa. I usually enjoy these books for their light-heartedness, with some feel-good emotional growth, but this one went deeper, and actually brought me to tears! I even suspected where the plotline was going, but it still didn't weaken the impact of it. I also liked seeing Jesper get his 15 minutes of fame! I've really enjoyed that this book doesn't just relegate the rest of the Herons to superfluous sidekicks. Yes, there are the 'big three' (Hal, Thorn, and Lydia), but still, the other characters have some depth and purpose, even if they don't always have a major storyline. It was especially satisfying to see Stig have his own storyline in this book, because even though he's First Mate, he often ends up just being well, the First Mate (a la Lt. Riker in Star Trek) or the muscle.
" said.

" OMG! I thought it ended with the last one and I was like NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! BUT THE BROTHERBAND CONTINUES!!!!!! Hopefully there will be some Rangers in this one too... " said.

" Wow, what a story. I found less humour in this story than some of the previous Brotherband books, but it was replaced with something else... A must read book... " said.

" Great plot. Pretty similar to the rest of the series, but great plot. " said.

November 2017 New Book:

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