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Return of the Temujai: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 8

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Return of the Temujai: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 8 Book Poster Image
Eighth adventure stays fresh with suspense and high stakes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The 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.

Positive Messages

Lessons in teamwork and leadership are at the core of this whole series. In Book 8, an understanding of what is gained when peace is chosen over war. Also, there are many times the warriors choose to knock out opponents rather than kill them when they have a choice.

Positive Role Models & Representations

As always in the Heron brotherband, everyone has their important place. Hal, the leader, comes up with some brazen ideas to get them out of a tight spot. By the end of the book he's focused all his energy on finding peace with his enemies. Lydia, the lone woman on the ship, proves extremely valuable to the crew in this book, as a tracker and on the atlatl (weapon that shoots darts).  

Violence

The usual battle violence with swords, axes, knives, darts, arrows, and a giant crossbow appropriately named the Mangler. 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 man is kidnapped. A dog bites a prisoner's hand, and a ship nearly sinks. Men are found drowned in a river. Talk of a battle with many lives lost.

Sex
Language

One "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The head of the Skandians drinks ale while the younger sailors all drink coffee, and lots of it.

What 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.

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What's the story?

In RETURN OF THE TEMUJAI, Hal and his brotherband are sent to a mountain pass on horseback to build weapons. There's talk that the Temujai warriors seek a quick passage to the sea through Skandian territory and are ready to attack the fort there. Hal thinks a few of the giant crossbows like the one on his ship can hold them off. As building gets underway, Lydia scouts in enemy territory and discovers they're right. A skirmish ensues, and the Skandians triumph, for now. But there are other ways to the coast, and Hal and his brotherband are sent by ship to scout a river in enemy territory with very little mapped of the area to guide them. It doesn't take long for them to discover how dangerous both the river and the approaching enemy really are.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the skills of the brotherband in Return of the Temujai. How do they all work together? Which member of the brotherband would you be?

  • In a surprise attack, Lydia uses her blunted darts to knock out guards rather than kill them. Why? Would the Temujai have done the same if roles were reversed? How do you know?

  • What do you think is next for the Heron brotherband? Will you read more of their adventures, or the stories in other John Flanagan series?

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