Review of Slaves of Socorro: Brotherband 4 – John Flanagan

Posted: September 29, 2014 in adventure, fantasy, Review, young adult
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Slaves of Socorro

There is a reason why Flanagan’s “Socorro” sounds like Morocco… it is plainly based on the Morocco of the Barbary slave traders, who preyed upon the European coasts as far north as Iceland through the 16th to 19th century (until they finally got pummelled by the Americans). Problem is that the Vikings raided and traded from the 9th to 11th centuries, so there is no way in our history that a band of Vikings would find themselves rescuing a bunch of Anglo-Saxons from Barbary slavers – which is essentially the plotline of this novel.

It may be young adult fantasy… but I do find the constant anachronisms jarring. Flanagan has put a great deal of research into his sailing ships, but seemingly rather less into other matters – foodstuffs for one thing. Without magic or technology foods just don’t keep unless you get into salting and pickling, so how Edwin’s fillet of beef was edible after a sea voyage of some days I cannot guess. And let’s not get into coffee and potatoes…

But at the same time, Flanagan’s prose is very readable, his characters memorable, and his plot, if a little obvious, is carried off with panache. He’s fun to read, and I know he’s popular with his audience. It’s just that I wish he had been either more realistic or more fantastic in his world construction.

Random House

Supplied by Random House NZ

Reviewed by Jacqui

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