This gripping novel continues the journey of the outcast youths aboard the Heron! The fighting tactics from the boat were great– I learned a lot about navigation and the ability of ships to steer in different conditions. There was so much detail in contrasting the fighting between the wolfships and the pirate tactics, I was amazed at the efficacy of both. For example, Flanagan does a great job of highlighting what an invader is tricking the defender to think. The narrative insight into the reasons why different people act the way they do in emergencies was fantastic. At each fight and chase, I was breathless with suspense. I was rewarded with very detailed examination and celebration of each character’s mindset, and the perceptions of being there were stark and enchanting.
I’m pleased that Flanagan added a strong female lead, Lydia, who is an ace with the atlatl. She contributes her amazing marksmanship and fearlessness to the battles, and is the lynchpin in the works. I couldn’t believe all the great adventures they have in just this one book and I tore through it, enjoying every page turn. In the end, I learned a lot about how ships were made and how naval weapons were used. The siege strategies were fascinating, and so was the seafaring details of how to man a ship during a battle. The book is a celebration, as additional characters join in the fun (as the prospect of the small brotherband running around seemed a little lonely). Against the backdrop of camaraderie already existing among the brotherband, the additional dialogues were terrifically fun and sprightly. Love those Skandians and their humor. One of the best parts was the nail-biting ending where you know the journey is not yet going to end. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it was both horrific in destruction, yet cathartic in helping the characters bond together for the next book. Suffice it to say, I am enthusiastically waiting book 3. This one gets FIVE STARS because it was just so full of good action, characters, and narration.