I RATE THIS NOVEL, FIVE OF FIVE STARS!
Straight after reading Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, I dove into this book. I finished it quickly and I loved every minute of it. John Flanagan tells a wonderful coming of age story about a Viking boy on his path to becoming a respected member of a Brotherband.
On the very first page, John started a sentence with the word and. Sure, style can dictate whether one decides to do that or not, but most people (including plenty of English professors and a lot of authors) swear by the rule of “Never start a sentence with and or but.”
John often puts had after the start of a sentence, usually after a pronoun or someone’s name. He had, she had, Thorn had. I spotted four sentences in a row at one point that started off this way and it became a little jarring.
During one stage of the novel, the word “lawyer” came into the book and it didn’t feel right. People didn’t practice law in the form of an occupation until the 12th and 13th century, long after the Viking era had ended. The term lawyer wasn’t even used until the 14th-15th century, so reading that word used just didn’t work for the setting the book is in. And yes, I’m a total nerd, why do you think I read fantasy books?
I quickly got over all that though. Why? Because I love it, I can’t describe how much I do. The imagery is spot on and allows me to imagine almost everything that happens beautifully. The battle scenes flow well and even time spent aboard the vessels is interesting. John has done a marvelous job. The characters are well put together and each have their own personalities.
The story is one about Skandians, of Vikings. If follows the story of Hal Mikkelson, born half Skandian and half foreigner and is treated like an outcast. He’s a thinker, a tinkerer, an inventor. When brotherband (groups of Skandians who train together, fight together and die together) training starts, he joins one of the most outrageous brotherbands, one full of outcasts. But he quickly becomes determined to make it so they succeed in the trials to come.
It’s a coming of age story for young Hal and a great one at that. The action, the suspense and the great interaction between characters are brilliant. It is easily the best book I have read all year, for now.
On three separate occasions, I got goosebumps, I teared up a little twice, smiled many times and laughed a few. It might not be the usual kind of fantasy that I read, but I’d recommend it to anyone who would bother listening. I loved it. The end had me wanting more, much more. I’ll definitely get my hands on the next ones in the series and what makes me happy is that there are plenty more to read!