A new series by the author of the Ranger's Apprentice books. In Skandia boys have to go through a rite of passage to become adults. They become teams - Brotherbands- and endure training in martial skills. Hal is the unwilling leader of one of these bands.His task to try and ensure they all make it through to the end - and if possible, become the winning team. It is a dangerous game, and treachery is all too common. An extra hazard is provided by the arrival of strange merchants, ostensibly friendly. In reality, they have an ulterior motive and for Hal and his team, it becomes a matter of honor to try and catch them.
Action packed, with a fast moving plot line; it can get a bit boring just reading about their various challenges. The book substantially improved towards the end as it became clear that nothing was going to plan. An unexpected twist in the tale leaves the way open for the creation of a new series as Hal and his friends attempt to become warriors.