The Invaders reads much more like a typical Flanagan novel than did The Outcasts, detailing strategy, intuition, and battles much more similarly to Ranger’s Apprentice. While The Outcasts was setting up the characters and taking time to show how they were special, The Invaders immediately throws the characters into action. Not a bad thing considering that Flanagan is genuinely good at crafting action, but it does make The Invaders seem much more same-y and formulaic. There’s a lot of strategizing and plotting, a brand new way of sowing discord is unveiled, and then there’s a battle. It’s very similar to RA.
This book, at least, does introduce one of my favorite of Hal’s inventions, the Mangler, which helps cement the Herons as the underdog heroes who no one takes seriously until their fort/ship is torn to pieces in five minutes. I think that’s why the Brotherband books are more interesting and appealing to me than the Ranger’s Apprentice books because of that underdog factor. Even when we know how capable and talented the Herons are, there’s still that underdog quality about them that just makes everything they do twice as heartwarming and extraordinary.
This book also introduces Lydia, who unfortunately does suffer a little bit as clearly being the female character just to have a female character. And Flanagan isn’t particularly original in how he uses her, either, immediately having her as a potential romantic interest. However, the way she eventually joins the Herons is realistic, and the inclusion of her character and her talent with dart throwing makes things a little more interesting (and the Herons as a whole much more dangerous). I don’t remember her really growing much as a character throughout the books, but I do remember that at least she has some development besides romance with the other characters. It will be interesting to see what happens in future books.