A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Invaders is the second book in Brotherband Chronicles, the companion series to the popular Ranger's Apprentice series. There's more violence here than in Book 1, The Outcasts, because the seafaring teens are done with their official training and are facing real pirate enemies. But only two scenes stand out as being gory: one in which an unknown captain is tortured for information before being killed and another in which a more major character has an arrow removed from his side. Most other violence is battle-related and barely described. More central to the story are the growing skills and maturity of this underdog group of boys. Main character Hal continues to be a great model of leadership and ingenuity.
What's the story?
After losing the prized treasure of their Skandian town to the pirate Zavac and his men, Hal and his loyal crew, plus Hal's mentor, Thorn, cast off on the Heron to get it back, since they know they'd never be welcomed home empty handed. A very long storm forces the crew to set up camp in a secluded bay and wait. And wait. But the time doesn't go idly by: Hal constructs a makeshift wood shop and gets busy inventing a new and dangerous weapon to mount on his ship, and the seasoned Seawolf Thorn starts to train the boys in fighting so they'll stand a chance against Zavac. Just as the weather clears, Zavac and his men board a ship and torture the captain into telling him about treasure in neighboring Limmat. Which is just where the Heron will find them a-plundering. But when the Heron gets there, the town is completely overrun with pirates. They're going to need Hal's ingenious new weapon, a clever plan of attack, and lots more fighters.
Is it any good?
It's a long haul before the real action in THE INVADERS, but readers won't be bored. These boys are fun to be around, whether it's training hard on the beach with Thorn's curious methods or watching Hal invent in his shop.
After all the training in The Outcasts, now the Brotherband is officially on the move, ready for adventure ... and pirates. But wait -- a storm hits, and they're stuck in camp. For more than 100 pages.
Then the alliances form as everyone gets ready for battle against the pirates. Finally, there's a strong girl character, Lydia, in the mix. (She got a great introduction but could still use a bit more character development. Maybe in Book 3?) The climactic battle is worth the training, planning, and waiting. And Hal's big invention doesn't disappoint. It's going to be hard to wait for the Heron's next adventure.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about adventure books and movies. What makes for a good adventure? Is it the resilient characters? Constant danger? Exotic places?
Hal continues to grow as a leader in this book. How does he use his crew's strengths to complement his new invention?
For girl fans, are you happy that Lydia -- beautiful, resourceful, and a skilled hunter -- has joined the series? Do you prefer your heroines both skilled and attractive, or doesn't it matter? What heroines can you think of who aren't described as attractive?
Our editors recommend
For kids who love pirates
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