A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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. Also, Book 6 shows the advantage of a civilization capable of making weapons and tools out of metal over civilizations still using stone and wood tools and weapons. The (fictitious) Scandians may be more advanced in some ways but still hold a real documented belief, called the World Turtle, that the earth isn't round, it sits on a turtle's back, and sailing too far will push you off the turtle's shell.
Lessons in teamwork and leadership are at the core of this whole series. In Book 6 grief is lessened with the help of friends. Also, there's much respect shown for other cultures and ways of life.
Positive Role Models
Hal continues to be a good leader, steering his brotherband out of danger in a storm. He supports his best friend even when it's difficult -- both when he doesn't agree with a choice he makes and when his friend suffers a loss. In general, author John Flanagan puts much focus on all the good qualities of each member of the brotherband, restating them often when he shows them working together or showing a particular skill.
Violence & Scariness
The usual battle violence with swords, axes, knives, darts, arrows, and a giant crossbow appropriately named the Mangler. The enemy are the fierce Ghostfaces of the title, painted up like skulls. They regularly take slaves with talk of how they kill all the men in villages they pillage. Ghostfaces and some villagers die of battle wounds and drowning. Two deaths are particularly sad to main characters. A rampaging giant bear is killed to protect children; other animals in the forest are killed for food with much talk of the hunting practices of the lone female in the brotherband. A dueling punch knocks someone out. Sailors almost die of thirst.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few romantic kisses.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Enemy warriors drink alcohol made from corn. Talk of older warrior Thorn's past drinking problem.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Ghostfaces is the sixth 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 and a cult of assassins in Book 5, the crew of the Heron tackles a terrible storm that blows them so off course they almost die of thirst onboard. On an island somewhere in the Endless Ocean, they encounter and fight a giant bear and fight the Ghostfaces of the title, ruthless warriors painted up like skulls who pillage small villages and enslave or kill the inhabitants. Expect the usual battle scenes with arrows, axes, swords, darts, and the ship's signature giant crossbow, the Mangler. Less expected for the series are two sad deaths, one of which results in an intense period of mourning for one of the Heron crew. Lucky for him he has his brotherband friends to help him. In general, author John 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.
Is It Any Good?
As reliable as Hal is as captain of the Heron, every book in the Brotherband Chronicles is a reliably good read, including this one. Here comes another high-seas, swashbuckling adventure, this time in the uncharted territory of the Endless Ocean fighting against a band of skull-painted pillagers -- well, eventually. It's not all swashbuckling. After a harrowing start where the crew almost dies of thirst, there's quite a lull as readers get acquainted with a new island and its inhabitants, friendly and not.
It stays friendly for some time, actually. There are banquets and the swapping of recipes, with an amiable village of locals. The dreaded Ghostfaces of the title take a very long time to arrive, making readers almost think the crew is getting off the island easy -- if you don't count a nasty encounter with a giant bear. As usual with the series, when the action ramps up and the axes and swords come out, there's quite a payoff. Unusual for the series, the very end takes on a somber tone.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.