Slaves of Socorro: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 4

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Slaves of Socorro: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 4 Book Poster Image
Crew fights slavers and pirates in solid seafaring sequel.

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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.

Positive Messages

Lessons in teamwork and leadership are at the core of this whole series. At one point in Book 4, competition gets in the way of teamwork and crew members are put in line.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There isn't a whole lot of character growth in this book in the series, probably because Hal is well-established as a good leader and ship captain and the rest of his crew know their roles. Ingvar gets to shine here as more of a hero character; everyone always underestimates his smarts because of his large size and farsightedness.


A few bloody moments where heads are bashed with clubs, old and new injuries gush blood, noses are broken, a man is crushed, slaves are shot with arrows, and enemies are killed with arrows and darts or run through with swords, but also some moments where the Brotherband choose to knock men unconscious rather than kill them. A fistfight in a slave cell with a bully leaves the bully unconscious, a ship sinks killing those onboard, and someone starts a fire in a crowded marketplace. Talk of a ship's crew members killed in a pirate attack, slaves chained together and beaten in cells, and an ax taking off toes by accident.


A light kiss on the cheek.


One "damn" and one "hellhole," plus the occasional humorous invoking of Skandian gods, such as "Orlog curse it."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many times, Hal and his underage crew are offered ale, and they drink coffee or water instead. The crew of the Heron loves coffee. Their underage enemy, Tursgurd, drinks to excess more than once and picks fights. All the rest of the drinking is by adults. After a night of celebratory drinking a ship's crew is hung over the next day and throwing up over the side.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Slaves of Socorro is the fourth book in Brotherband Chronicles, the companion series to the popular Ranger's Apprentice series. After defeating pirates in Book 3, The Hunters, young Captain Hal and his Brotherband crew take on slave traders and are determined to free slaves by any means necessary. There are some bloody moments where men bash heads with clubs, old and new injuries gush blood, noses are broken, and enemies are killed with arrows and darts or run through with swords but also some moments where the Brotherband choose to knock men unconscious rather than kill them. This mostly teenage crew is definitely in a man's world and is often offered ale at port -- but they always refuse graciously and explain they'd much rather drink coffee. As always, Hal's shipmates make a great team and will face any danger with him. The hulking, farsighted Ingvar finally gets a chance to show his heroism and doesn't disappoint.

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What's the story?

After their big win against the pirates in Book 3, Captain Hal and his Skandian crew of the Heron are twiddling their thumbs at home in Hallasholm, wishing for another high-seas assignment. It's not long before Erak the Oberjarl (head of government) sends them packing -- all the way to the country of Araluen for a one-year tour of duty to help protect them from raiders and pirates. When they arrive to relieve another Skandian crew of their duties, they're hardly settled in when a nearby town is raided and 12 people are taken to be sold as slaves. What's worse, Hal knows the culprit: The ship's captain is named Tursgud, a Skandian and former Brotherband training rival. That makes Hal and the Heron crew even more determined to track them down and save the slaves. He's sure they're headed farther south to the slave markets of Socorro, a busy port town crawling with tight security. They're going to need a plan.

Is it any good?

Consistent with the other Brotherband books, SLAVES OF SOCORRO takes its sweet time getting going. But if you're a regular reader of the series, you won't really mind. It just feels like the first half of the book gives you time to catch up with old friends over Edvin's strong coffee. You can see what brilliant idea Hal is working on; what the twins Ulf and Wulf are quibbling about; wonder what the independent, loner Lydia thinks about hanging out with all the boys; and wonder what worldly wisdom Thorn has to offer next. There's not much new character development in this one -- a man named Gilan and a big guard dog join the crew -- but it's still nice to catch up. OK, maybe a bit more about the bad guy Tursgud and his motivations would have been nice.

Halfway through, the objectives become clear, and we're off, as expected. The Brotherband raises sails in a hurry, swords and bows at the ready; then they hatch plans, which go awry, and the crew faces danger head-on. The Heron Brotherband never disappoints. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about life on the high seas. What job would you want on a ship? Why? 

  • What do you like best about this series? The adventure? The characters? Why? 

  • What does each crew member of the Heron contribute?

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