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Warning! This page contains spoilers for The Hunters.
First published by
Random House Australia
The Hunters is the third book in the Brotherband Chronicles and was published in 2012.
Hal and his brotherband crew are hot on the trail of the pirate Zavac and they have only one thing on their minds - stopping the bloodthirsty thief before he can do any more damage. Of course, they also know Zavac has the Andomal, the priceless Skandian artifact stolen when the brotherband let down their guard.
The chase leads down mighty rivers, terrifying rapids, to the lawless fortress of Raguza. If Hal is to succeed, he will need to go beyond his brotherband training. He will need to challenge the pirate one-on-one, knowing only one of them will survive.
Hal and the Heron Brotherband are sailing around after the ferocious battle in Limmat, searching for the Raven and its captain, Zavac. Zavac currently holds the Skandian’s most prized artifact in his possession, the Andomal. Rikard, a pirate that the Herons have captured, tells them exactly where Zavac is going- the lawless fortress and pirate haven, Raguza. Ingvar, one of the Brotherband, has acquired a horrible fever. Edvin, the brotherband’s healer, decides that a few days on solid ground will do them good. Hal docks in a sheltered bay and they quickly construct two tents, one for Ingvar and a larger one for the rest of the Brotherband. Thorn, as usual, decides to sleep in the Heron.
Several days pass and Ingvar doesn't show any signs of improving. In the middle of the night, Rikard slips away, even though he was tied up to a tree- he hid a knife on his body, just in case he had to use it. Lydia, the most experienced tracker, and Thorn, the most experienced fighter, vouch to go after him. Lydia finds traces of Rikard’s passing with ease, like footprints and even bits of thread on a bush. After a day of tracking, they smell the wood smoke from a fire that Rikard has made. They find Rikard and Thorn knocks him unconscious with ease they drag him back to the camp. This time, he’s tied up much more firmly.
Back at the camp, Edvin reads through the basic healer’s manual that he received as part of Brotherband training over and over again. The only thing that he finds to cure fever, other than what he’s already doing, is a vague note about southern people and willow bark. Two of the Brotherband find a willow grove and take back as much bark as they can carry. Edvin makes a tea out of the bark and forces Ingvar to drink it, and his fever breaks. The brotherband get back on the Heron as soon as possible and make for the town of Krall. Krall was a small town, but with plenty of traffic from ships, so they would get all of the supplies that they needed while getting closer to Zavac. They find a one-legged man in a tavern who tells them all about Zavac and his whereabouts they’re overheard by one of Zavac’s crew- left behind to pick up some rope, apparently. The man kills Pegleg with a sneaky knife between the ribs.
The crew of the Heron are leaving Krall when they’re stopped by a bunch of guards who try to arrest them on charges of murder. They released Rikard the night before, and Zavac’s minion killed him in a back alley. However, the guards don’t know that, and they think that Thorn killed Rikard. Hal manages to show them that if they thought about it logically, none of the Herons could have had a chance to kill Rikard. They leave Krall and end up in Bayrath Zavac had been in Bayrath a few days previously. He had a quiet word with the Gatmeister, or lord, of Bayrath, and it had involved quite a few gold coins and an exchange about delaying the Heron. Permanently. Zavac had lied about them killing Rikard, and Doutro, the Gatmeister, had swept ten large gold pieces into his desk drawer.The Herons are taken into a dungeon, and Lydia, through a cleverly fabricated lie, manages to get shipped to a cell with less security. She escapes by stealing a jackknife and a wooden dowel, and with those she opens up a locked window and clambers out of it. She finds the dungeon where Hal and the crew are being held, and Jesper tells her that if she can get his lock picking set, the entire brotherband can break free.Lydia sneaks onto the Heron at night, evading the sentry posted there. She retrieves Jesper’s supplies and slips them to him through a thin window. Jesper picks the lock on the door and the brotherband devastates the guards posted outside of their cell.The brotherband, while escaping, toss a lit torch onto Doutro’s personal yacht, as revenge for making his men beat Hal unconscious when he didn’t reveal the location of his strongbox. The entire yacht is doomed before the Heron even pulls out of the harbor The Heron heads down a river and through a series of rapids.
Before the crew knows it, they're almost at Raguza. They see a ship, Seahawk, one of several escorts that make sure that trading ships get around the pirate-infested waters safely. Seahawk’s skipper, Mannoc, is initially suspicious of them, but after a brief, heart-stopping battle with several pirates, Mannoc strikes up a friendship with Hal. Hal begins to form a plan to get into Raguza.Some time later, the Heron is flying a black flag, the sign of a pirate. Seahawk is chasing them, trying to capture them, and the Herons are desperately rowing towards Raguza. The gate opens up for the Herons, and the Seahawks are shut out.Of course, Hal needs to pay a hefty fee to the Korpaljo, overlord of Raguza. His name is Mihaly, and he demands a tenth of whatever the Heron has on board. They give him a large emerald, in a shade of green that is extremely rare- and from Limmat. They also know that Zavac must have given Mihaly some of these emeralds, but he tells them that he’s never seen any emerald quite like the one that the Herons gave him. Zavac therefore loses 25 of his emeralds instead of the 5 that he would have given if he didn't cheat Mihaly.
The crew of the Heron start growing restless, knowing that the Andomal is so close, yet so far away. They can't sneak up to the Raven at any time of the day unless they want to be seen.
This problem is fixed when Hal challenges Zavac to a duel- a duel of ships. The Heron and her crew will fight the Raven. Mihaly agrees, seeing how he can profit from the arrangement.The duel begins. The bets are placed and Hal finds out that three out of every four people are betting for the Raven. During the duel, the Mangler, the giant crossbow mounted on the Heron, breaks and lands on Hal. After a terse couple of minutes, Hal manages to wriggle free of the Mangler with the help of Ingvar, and the battle continues. The Herons board the Raven and begin to slaughter the crew, and Hal darts over to the side where Zavac’s sleeping quarters where the Andomal is.Hal finds the Andomal, but Zavac comes charging in with a dagger in hand. He nearly kills Hal before Thorn barges in and takes out Zavac with a quick blow to the head. With the Andomal secure, the rest of the Raven’s crew is decimated and the Herons win the battle.
When the Herons return to Skandia, they’re welcomed home with open arms. A huge feast marks their return. Jesper and Stefan celebrate with a saga that barely rhymes, and The Hunters ends.