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“'Medicine is supposed to taste bad,' he explained. 'The worse it tastes, the better it is for you. Everyone knows that,'” Jesper. –The Hunters  

The Hunters

Brotherband Chronicles #3

by John Flanagan
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Hal and his fellow Herons have tracked Zavac across the ocean, intent on retrieving the stolen Andomal, Skandia’s most prized treasure. Even though a fierce battle left Zavac and his fellow pirates counting their dead, the rogue captain managed to escape right through the Skandians’ fingers. If they hope to bring Zavac to justice and reclaim the Andomal, the Herons must take to the sea. But the challenge ahead is a dangerous one that could very well take out Hal’s entire crew.

In the first installment of the Brotherband Series, it was difficult to keep track of all of the characters. However, the main characters are now well-rounded individuals and their unique traits are beginning to shine. Hal has grown into a confident skirl, who knows his crew, which allows him to assign each person a job that is best suited to his/her talent. Even though Lydia is a girl, during battles she contributes because her skills are extremely useful. Readers will enjoy the interplay between the Herons and laugh at some of their mischievous ways.

While the second installment of the series, The Invaders, was slow and uneventful until the end, The Hunters has the perfect blend of suspense, character development, and battles. The Herons work as a team and show the importance of hard work, friendship, and loyalty. One of the best aspects of the series is that everyone has a valuable skill and that skill does not have to revolve around fighting. For example, Edvin cooks, knits, and steers the Heron. Even though the crew teases Edvin about his knitting, in the end, even Edvin’s knitting is used to benefit the entire crew.

The Brotherband Series brings to life the sea-faring warriors of Skandia, while teaching important lessons about working as a team and valuing others. The Hunters quickly captures the readers’ attention and keeps readers hooked by introducing interesting characters and conflicts. Even though all of Flanagan’s books end in an epic battle, each battle is realistic, unique, suspenseful, and told without gory details. The book’s conclusion is both heartwarming and humorous. After finishing The Hunters, readers will be eager to pick up the next book in the series, The Slaves of Socorro.

Sexual Content

  • None


  • Thorn and Lydia go after Rikard, who hears them and jumps to his feet. Lydia reacts and “her arm whipped forward and the long dart hissed away through the morning air. It flashed at knee level between Rikard’s legs, tangling between them.” Rikard falls “flat on his face.” Torn “hauled the pirate to his feet, then hit him with a thundering left, sending him crashing back to the ground once more.”
  • A pirate overhears a man talking about his pirate ship. The pirate walks into the man. “Nobody noticed the thick stiletto that he slid into the old man’s side. Pegleg’s gasp of pain was lost in the tavern’s bubble of shouting, drunken voices.”
  • When a pirate sees Rikard walking down a dark alley, he “stepped forward and rammed his knife up and under the other man’s ribs, shoving and twisting until it reached, and stopped, his heart. Rikard shuttered briefly. . . his hands went to the blood welling from the terrible wound.”
  • A sentry detains the Heron. Upset, Thorn “stepped toward the guard. His left hand flashed out to grip the spear at its midpoint, thumb down. Then he twisted his hand and the spear upward in a half circle and jerked backward, all in one rapid motion. . . Thorn had leveled the razor-sharp point at the captain’s throat.” The Herons are eventually allowed to pass.
  • Doutro has the Herons’ crew arrested. In order to get Hal to reveal where the crews’ valuables are hidden, Doutro has Hal beaten. “Hal tried to duck the first blow, but the man behind him held him still. The big fist exploded off his cheekbone. He grunted in pain.” Hal is beaten until he is unconscious. The description of the beating is described over several paragraphs.
  • Doutro has Lydia taken to his house because he is thinking about selling her as a slave. As Lydia tries to escape, a young man tries to stop her. She knocks him off balance and then “hit him on the side of the jaw with the heel of her open hand, fingers spread to increase its rigidity.” The man blacks out.
  • The Herons are put in a prison cell with another man. When the Herons escape, Stig hit the other man “with a blinding right cross that sent him sprawling. Luckily, there was a pile of dirty straw to break his fall. He lay spread-eagle on it, out cold.”
  • As the Herons leave the prison, the guards “went through the guardroom like a hurricane. . . In seconds, they were sprawled unconscious on the floor.
  • Pirates attack a merchant ship. The Herons jump in to help the merchants. Lydia uses her atlatl and “one of the longboat’s crew rises to his feet in agony as the dart transfixed him. Then the pirate crashed over, falling on the rower in front of him. . .” Hal uses a huge crossbow to shoot at the pirates. “The helmsman collapsed over the steering oar and the longboat swung wildly.”
  • After several pirates have been injured or killed, some of the Herons board the longboat. “Thorn and Stig moved forward like a two-man battering ram. The huge club and Stig’s whirling ax swept away anyone who tried to oppose them. . .” In the end, many of the pirates jump into the river to avoid being killed. The battle is described over 8 pages.
  • A group of pirates attack the Herons in an ally. Stig attacks a pirate and “the two blades rang together and shrieked against each other as Stig’s axe slid down the sword’s crosspiece. . .[Stig] grabbed the swordsman’s right hand with his left, twisting it down and around, bending the wrist back. The man howled in pain and inadvertently leaned forward to try to lessen the twisting pressure. . . Stig head-butted him in the face and jerked his wrist one more time.”
  • Seven pirates try to stop Stig’s movement. “The first man to move had taken two paces when Stig’s sword darted out and back. The thug clutched at his chest, a surprised look on his face, he crumbled to his knees.” The pirate dies.
  • Thorn arrives and sees the Herons are in danger. “Thorn kept coming, his massive club-hand rising and falling, then sweeping from side to side, smashing ribs and skulls and arms as he scattered the gang, spilling them like ninepins before him. . . The shaggy old sea wolf, transformed into a terrible and terrifying instrument of violence, simply lunged the club-hand in a straight-armed punch at the terrified thug. It hit him in the chest and hurled him backward. . . the man flew between them [Hal and Lydia], smashing into the brick wall with a sickening sound, then sliding to the ground as his knees gave way.” The fight scene is described over three pages.
  • The book ends with an epic ship-to-ship battle between the Herons and Zavac’s pirates. Hal shoots a giant crossbow and “the bolt streaked away and plowed through the packed men in the bow of the ship. . . He figured that first bolt had killed or wounded at least four men. . .” As Hal shoots the crossbow, Lydia uses her weapon to shoot darts at the men. One of Lydia’s darts hits Zavac’s first mate who “staggered and fell.”
  • Some of Zavac’s men were able to board the Heron by making a bridge of oars. In man-to-man combat, Hal uses a spear and “thrust quickly, hitting him [the pirate] in the thigh. The Magyaran dropped his spear, reached to clutch the wound in his leg and toppled off the oars into the sea.”
  • Hal’s crewman, Ingavr “swung the oar at full length, smashing it into them, sweeping them from their unsteady foothold. One fell back aboard the Raven, three of his ribs fractured by the oar. The others went into the sea.”
  • Hal rams the Raven with his boat. “Heron’s sharp prow sliced like a giant blade along the starboard bank of oars, smashing and splintering them as she went, hurling the oarsmen off their benches as the butt ends of the oars jerked forward and smashed into them. The air was filled with the shouts of injured men and the grinding, smashing sound of the oars as they flew into splinters.” Two men are injured and two men are knocked unconscious.
  • The Herons board the pirate ship and begin swinging their axes. A pirate stabs Wulf with a sword and “blood welled out.” Thorn helps the two boys. “Thorn swung a backhanded stroke across his head, shearing through the helmet.”
  • Zavac tries to kill Hal. Zavac “suddenly thrust down with a convulsive heave, putting all his weight behind the knife. Hal just managed to twist his body to the side. The dagger scored a shallow cut across his neck and he felt the hot blood flow from the cut.”
  • Thorn appears and puts a hook on Zavac’s arm. “Zavac screamed in agony as the two-piece clasping hook clamped down on his forearm like a vice. Hal actually heard several small bones cracking as Thorn increased the pressure. . .” Zavac is left to go down with his ship. This final battle is described over 26 pages.
  • Tursgud, the Heron’s nemesis, acted belligerently and Ingvar’s massive hand, balled into a fist, flashed up in a thundering, devastating uppercut. It caught Tursgud on the point of his jaw, picking him up and hurling him backwards for several meters. He slid across a table, collapsing it, then crashed into the ground. . .”

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • Thorn goes into a tavern to see if he can get some information on a pirate ship. The patrons were drinking ale.
  • A pirate goes into a tavern and “he signaled the tavern keeper for another jug of brandy.”
  • While trying to sleep on the Heron, Hal hears “drunken voices of sailors heading back to their ships after an evening in the taverns close to the waterfront.”
  • When the Herons return home, the town throws a party. “There were platters of roast vegetables and barrels of ale and wine for those who wished it.” Several of the adults drink the wine.


  • The Skandians often use their gods’ names in exclamation. For example, “For Gorlog’s sake” is used as an exclamation three times. “Lorgan’s ears” and, “Oh Gorlog help us,” are both used as an exclamation once.
  • One of the Herons’ crew calls someone a “treacherous cow.”
  • Several times someone is called a fool.


  • None

Spiritual Content

  • Zavac “wore on the gods of several different religions, none of which counted him as a devoted follower. . .”
Other books by John Flanagan
Other books you may enjoy

“'Medicine is supposed to taste bad,' he explained. 'The worse it tastes, the better it is for you. Everyone knows that,'” Jesper. –The Hunters  

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