Slaves of Socorro by John Flanagan
Brotherband series. Random House Australia, 2014. ISBN
(Age: 11+) Highly Recommended. Conflict. Adventure. Sailing. Heroism. Quests. Slaves of Socorro is the fourth book of the Brotherband series, and it is again a very engaging adventure involving a young sea-faring band of young heroic men (and one girl) who are involved in quests that use their superior sailing skills and their variety of fighting talents. In this book the team are engaged to rescue a group of slaves that have been captured for the slave market by a renegade crew from their home country of Skandia. The setting is the fantasy creation of the author, but the comparisons to adventures of the Vikings can easily be made.
Having previously only read the first book from this series, I was concerned that the gap in the continuity would cause issues in my enjoyment of this book, but the author gives enough background detail to link what has happened before to what the characters face in this book. In fact, the book could be read independently from any other of the series, but I would not recommend this as some of the character development would be lost. Flanagan has definitely written a book that male and female readers will love, as the excitement, adventure, hand-to-hand combat and characterisation makes for an exciting and enjoyable read. The humorous relationships and bickering between the Brotherband members adds an element of lightness to the quest. The sailing skills that are utilised also open up a new world of expertise to the reader.
Flanagan writes books that young male readers will immediately enjoy, and will be waiting for the next book in the series impatiently! This series, along with the Ranger's apprentice series, would be high on the reading preferences for upper primary and early secondary readers.
Note: There is violent conflict, but there are aspects of morality associated with what constitutes right action in the face of 'war-like' activity.