The Hunters: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 3

Common Sense Media says

Teen sailors chase cruel pirate captain in exciting sequel.





What parents need to know

Educational value

The same glossary of sailing terms precedes each book in this series, showing how important it is for readers to know them in order to follow along.

Positive messages

Lessons in teamwork and leadership are at the core of this whole series. This book also tackles corruption and greed, which the Heron crew faces in each river town they sail into. There's also a charming bit about gender roles when Edvin takes up knitting, causing mockery on board before everyone wants one of his hats.

Positive role models

The boys of the Heron ship are all great. They continue to look up to their skirl (captain), Hal, who is still a competent strategist; his whole crew is willing to face any danger with him. Lydia, the lone girl introduced in Book 2, really comes through for the Heron here, showing her bravery and skills in battle. Thorn continues to play the good mentor, letting the boys lead their own ship while offering his advice and experience when needed.


The Heron boys battle with pirates, at sea as ships face off and on land when they're cornered and outnumbered. The fighting sequences focus on action and strategy far above gore, but there are some pirate casualties from battle and drowning. The boys get a few cuts, are imprisoned and almost tried and hanged, and one almost dies from fever from a battle injury incurred in Book 2. Hal gets beat up by a river town official's thugs for withholding information. The Heron goes through a series of rapids that almost destroy the ship.


Lydia is aware that both Hal and Stig like her, but the jealousy is kept to a minimum in this book.


Lots of "shut up" -- especially Lydia saying, "Shut up, old man!" to Thorn for teasing her. And there's the usual creative curses involving Skandian gods, such as, "Orlog's toenails!"

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Skandians like to celebrate with a bit of drinking mixed in -- only older adults see to liberally partake, however.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Hunters is the third book in Brotherband Chronicles, the companion series to the popular Ranger's Apprentice series. The teen shipmates of the Heron are still at sea and facing pirates, so expect some battle scenes, but the focus is more on action and strategy than gory detail. That's even the case when young Hal, the admirable, brave, and incredibly bright ship captain, gets beat up by a town leader's thugs. There are some pirate casualties from battle and drowning. The boys get a few cuts, are imprisoned and almost tried and hanged, and one almost dies from fever from a battle injury incurred in Book 2. The Heron goes through a series of rapids that almost destroy the ship. As always, Hal's shipmates make a great team and will face any danger with him. A girl shipmate, Lydia -- introduced in Book 2, The Invaders -- becomes a powerful force to reckon with here, saving the day more than once.

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What's the story?

After Hal, captain of the Heron, and his shipmates wage a big battle against Zavac, the pirate captain, in the town of Limmat, Zavac makes a narrow escape. It's so frighteningly narrow, he decides he deserves some R&R in the pirate haven of Raguza, a town on the Dan River. Zavac knows the Heron and her crew are in hot pursuit and sets out to stop them at every turn, bribing corrupt officials in river towns to imprison and hang them and forcing them to take a very dangerous detour. Just when Zavac thinks he's lost them for good, Hal hatches another one of his brilliant plans that involves a bit of trickery, some fancy ship maneuvering, and his secret fighting weapon -- it's not called \"the Mangler\" for nothing.

Is it any good?


Book 1, The Outcasts, was brotherband training, Book 2, The Invaders, was the big siege battle, and THE HUNTERS is an all-out chase and showdown. It starts slowly like the first two books, but like the Heron crew, readers don't have to wait around too long for another of Hal's brilliant plans. And this time he's a bit more confident and so is his crew. When they walk right into a lion's den -- or rather, sail into a whole port full of pirates -- you're almost afraid for the pirates. Didn't these guys used to be the scrawny underdogs?

While readers wait for the main action to ramp up, they get to know Lydia and her many talents. Heron's new recruit is an expert tracker, a long-range weapons expert, and a bit of an escape artist, and thank goodness for the Heron brotherband this sister's got their back. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about adventure stories. What makes this series exciting? Is it the big buzz word: pirates? Or traveling into the unknown?

  • Edvin likes to knit, Lydia likes to hunt, and both defy gender roles set for them. Can you think of other book or movie characters who also transcend gender stereotypes?

  • If you've read the other books in the series, how do you think this installment compares? 

Book details

Author:John Flanagan
Topics:Adventures, Great boy role models, Pirates
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:October 30, 2012
Number of pages:432
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 17
Available on:Hardback, Nook

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