A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Same glossary of sailing terms precedes each book in this series, showing how important it is for readers to know them to follow along. Battle strategy is carefully thought out and executed. We see differences in a cavalry fighting force better at fighting from a distance with bows and arrows and warriors of the brotherbands accustomed to fighting in close quarters with axes and swords. We also see how an outpost in a mountain pass is fortified against enemy attack.
Lessons in teamwork and leadership are at core of whole series. In Book 8, an understanding of what is gained when peace is chosen over war. Many times the warriors choose to knock out opponents rather than kill them when they have choice.
Positive Role Models
As always in Heron brotherband, everyone has an important place. Hal, the leader, comes up with some brazen ideas to get them out of a tight spot. By end of book, he's focused all his energy on finding peace with enemies. Lydia, the lone woman on the ship, proves extremely valuable to the crew, as a tracker and on the atlatl (weapon that shoots darts).
Violence & Scariness
The usual battle violence with swords, axes, knives, darts, arrows, a giant crossbow appropriately named the Mangler. More injuries this time to brotherband members when they are cornered -- with removal of an arrow from a leg described. Enemy warriors are knocked out, tied up in surprise attacks. Many enemies and one horse are killed in battle, with little described. A man is kidnapped. A dog bites a prisoner's hand; a ship nearly sinks. Men are found drowned in a river. Talk of battle with many lives lost.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The head of the Skandians drinks ale while the younger sailors all drink coffee, and lots of it.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Return of the Temujai is the eighth book in the Brotherband Chronicles, the companion adventure series to John Flanagan's popular Ranger's Apprentice series. Expect the usual battle violence with swords, axes, darts, arrows, and a giant crossbow. This time, there are more injuries to the brotherband members when they are cornered -- with the removal of an arrow from a leg described. Enemy warriors are knocked out and tied up in surprise attacks, and many enemies and one horse are killed in battle, with little described. A dog bites a prisoner's hand, and a ship nearly sinks. All other content is mild: one "damn" and the head of the Skandians drinks ale (while all the younger sailors prefer coffee, and lots of it). Readers of this series will notice that author Flanagan puts much focus on all the good qualities of each member of the brotherband, restating them often as he shows them supporting one another, working together, or showing a particular skill. The lone female member of the brotherband, Lydia, an experienced tracker and dart thrower, really shines in this one.
Is It Any Good?
Though the main characters don't change much in this eighth Brotherband story, they take readers on a truly exciting and suspenseful adventure. Everyone is doing what they do best. Hal designs the weapons and makes the tough decisions. He comes up with a brazen escape plan in Return of the Temujai. Lydia creeps into enemy territory and throws her deadly darts. Stig and Thorn, completely outnumbered, hold off the enemy with skill and style. And the Heron rides the dangerous rapids.
Temujai are a formidable force and the Skandians need a peace treaty to avoid a war they can't win. So while we don't get to see much change for readers' favorite characters, the stakes for Hal's people are pretty high. This keeps the Brotherband series feeling fresh, even eight books along.
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