Scorpion Mountain: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 5
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Scorpion Mountain is the fifth book in the Brotherband Chronicles, the companion series to John Flanagan's popular Ranger's Apprentice series. After taking on malicious slave traders in Book 4, Slaves of Socorro, Capt. Hal and the crew of the Heron engage a cult of assassins hidden in Scorpion Mountain set to kill a princess. There are bloody battles on their journey with plenty of enemies killed by sword, ax, arrow, spear, and special darts expertly wielded by Lydia, the lone girl in the crew. One of the brotherband gets seriously injured. Expect the occasional macabre detail ("pink froth and blood around his lips"). There's one party scene with ale served to young and old, but usually the underage crew of the Heron prefers coffee. Lessons in teamwork and leadership continue to be at the center of this series. A recurring theme in Book 5: smart battle tactics and meticulous preparation are way more important than the size of your army.
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What's the Story?
Fresh off a victory against Socorran slavers, Capt. Hal and the brotherband crew of the Heron sail back to Araluen, where they're stationed as protectors. There's less than a moment to enjoy their success when King Duncan of Araluen calls them to his castle. His daughter, Princess Cassandra, has a price on her head, and there's been an attempt on her life already. A man named Iqbal paid a group of assassins to carry out her murder after Cassandra injured his brother. Getting to Iqbal won't be easy. He's laying siege to a seaside town, and every ship that comes near its port is overtaken, its crews enslaved or killed. The Heron crew will have to be more than cunning and find a way to coordinate with the cavalry sent to take back the town while they take the port. Of course, leave it to Hal to have an excellent plan ... but, as usual, he can't plan for everything.
Is It Any Good?
There are fewer lulls in SCORPION MOUNTAIN than in Book 4; the objective is clearer earlier on. One might wonder, what heroics are left for the Heron brotherband, who've now vanquished pirates and slave traders? A creepy mountain-dwelling cult of assassins, it seems. Sounds extra scary, but fans of the series will follow Hal and crew anywhere. It's hard to worry about them when they possess such mad skills (of which author John Flanagan reminds readers at length) -- especially after Hal crafts spectacles for Ingvar. Now that Ingvar can see, he's a fighting machine.
Readers of The Ranger's Apprentice series have the advantage of knowing the Ranger Gilan a bit better, giving a climactic scene a bit more resonance. But it's exciting till the end regardless. And it will definitely make readers wonder what on earth could be next for the brotherband in Book 6.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about inventions. What did Hal invent this time? How did it help him and his friends?
Who's your favorite member of the brotherband? How does each contribute to the crew? If you were on the crew of a ship, what do you think your role would be? Which weapon would you choose?
Have you read the rest of the series or The Ranger's Apprentice series? Will you keep reading?
- Author: John Flanagan
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Philomel
- Publication date: December 2, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 14
- Number of pages: 464
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
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