The Invaders: Brotherband Chronicles, Book 2



Teen shipmates take on pirates in high-seas series sequel.

What parents need to know

Educational value

The same glossary of sailing terms from Book 1 appears at the very beginning of this book, showing how important it is for readers to know them in order to follow along. Readers can also learn about battle strategy.

Positive messages

Plenty of lessons in teamwork and leadership. Plus, Hal has to face that even with the best-laid plans, something can and will go wrong; it's better to adapt as you go than get caught up worrying.

Positive role models

Every mom will want to take home the boys on the Heron ship -- even the bickering twins. They look up to Hal as skirl (their word for captain) and inventor and are respectful to the older mentor, Thorn, as he trains them to be better fighters. Hal knows how to work with everyone's strengths and bring out the best in his team. He also becomes a competent battle strategist here, earning the respect of much more seasoned fighters. Stig, who used to have a big temper, keeps it in check all but one time. A tough girl character is introduced but not developed well yet. Of course she's also beautiful, which brings out some jealous feelings between Hal and Stig.


Pirates cause the worst violence, boarding a random ship, killing the crew, and torturing the captain for information before killing him. Zavac, the pirate captain, even instructs his crew to torture the other captain for five more minutes after he says he'll talk. The pirates also overtake a town, killing any townspeople in their way, including Lydia's grandfather; Lydia barely escapes. Two main characters almost freeze to death in the water before they're picked up. The climactic battle includes many pirates dying via swordplay, arrows, fire, and splinters from exploding wood. Most gore is omitted, except when a Heron shipmate gets an arrow in his side and it has to be removed and bandaged. There's one fist fight that ends quickly.


Some mild jealousy between boys competing for Lydia's attention.


A misbehaving Heron shipmate is called an "ass" a few times. The other insults are pretty funny, invoking the names of Skandian gods, some of the best being "by Orlog's crossed eyes" and "Gorlog's breath."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults celebrate a victory with ale and whiskey. Some talk of Thorn's past as an alcoholic, but he's sober for the whole book.

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.

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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.

Families can talk 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?

Book details

Author:John Flanagan
Topics:Adventures, Great boy role models, Misfits and underdogs, Pirates
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:May 1, 2012
Number of pages:432
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14

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