The Ghostfaces by John Flanagan
Brotherband bk 6. Random House, 2016. ISBN 9780857980113
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. I have read a number of books in this series (but not all) and each of them is thrilling, dramatic and full of action, and worthy of setting aside time to read and definitely worth recommending to young male readers who will love the life-threatening action and combat skills on display. (Note, young female readers will also enjoy the adventurous spirit and the fellowship of the band of 'brothers'.) Flanagan has mastered the art of the historical adventure for teen readers.
In this latest saga we read of the exploits of the Brotherband, led by the wise-beyond-his-years Hal, who together with a motley collection of friends with unique skills combine to master their sailing vessel and battle the elements and any human (or wild animal) opposition. Their history is well documented in previous books, but even if this was the first of the series that was read, Flanagan gives enough detail of their personalities and individual skills for it to be read as a stand-alone adventure.
Firstly, they have to survive the intense storm that threatens to blow them far from home and into dangerous and unknown territory. And then they must face a whole new way of life in a place that leaves them marvelling and gives them a new sense of home, until their existence is threatened by 'The Ghostfaces'. Although Flanagan has created a fantasy world, there are parallels with Viking-like and North American Indigenous cultures, and this too adds an intrigue for the reader. A comprehensive sailing vocabulary is included at the beginning to allow an understanding of the detailed sailing scenarios that are described in detail. It doesn't take long to feel like you too have been whipped by the storm in the opening chapters. But beyond the sailing detail is a story of friendship that binds these brothers together and allows them to overcome adversity and loss, and to demonstrate how to esteem individual strengths and forgive weaknesses.