Pearls of Lutra is the ninth book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It is the sequel to Mattimeo. It was published in 1996 by Philomel. The Redwall wiki (spoilers!) can be found here, and info about Brian Jacques can be found here.
“The Tears of All Oceans are missing. Six magnificent rose-colored pearls that inspire passion and greed in all who see them, they have left a cryptic trail of death and deception in their wake. And now Ublaz Mad Eyes, the evil emperor of a tropical isle beyond where the sun sets, is determined to let no one stand in the way of his desperate attempt to claim the pearls as his own.
At Redwall Abbey, a young hedgehog maid, Tansy, is determined to find the pearls first, with the help of her friends. Each of the pearls is hidden separately, along with a riddle as to the whereabouts of the next. Tansy must succeed, as the life of one she holds dear is in great danger. Meanwhile, the crew of fearsome monitor lizards and corsairs gather by Ublaz grows restless…”
What I Liked:
I’ve found that the Redwall books that are the best (so far) are the ones that have an overarching plot that all the viewpoints participate in. So, no random Redwall side plots that have nothing to do with the hero’s quest or the villain’s plan, just one plot that affects everyone. This book has that, which means that the Redwall Abbey portion of the book is not tedious or irrelevant, but is actually quite fun and a great puzzle quest to boot.
Arven is an interesting character; he’s a Dibbun (ugh) here, but in another book he becomes the Warrior, and then he’s Abbot. He’s the only character to be both Warrior and Abbot, in fact. I had my issues with him in this book, but his “Tansy pansy toogle doo!” was pretty cute.
Romsca is a character that, like Blaggut, doesn’t follow the same pattern as the other “vermin” in the series. Although she never has a Heel Face Turn (don’t click that unless you want to waste hours of your life) like Blaggut, her parting scene with the Abbot is quite touching, if a little bittersweet.
The rule of the Redwall series: if it has Martin in it (in the flesh), then it’s one of the best. This one has Martin, but not the Martin. It’s Martin II, the son of Mattimeo (yes, that Mattimeo). But the rule still applies: this book is one of the better books in the series.
How many villains now have been hoisted by their own petards? Directly, there’s Ublaz in this one (killed by his own snake), Gabool in Mariel (killed by his own scorpion), and Klitch in Salamandastron (although the poison was Ferahgo’s, not his, technically). Indirectly, there’s Tsarmina from Mossflower (fear of water, drowning), Urgan Nagru from The Bellmaker (killed by his wolfskin), Slagar from Mattimeo (killed by his slyness). That’s almost every single villain. I’m going to keep track of this in later books…
Also, on a side note, the names of the enemies in this book were really great.
What I Didn’t Like:
Okay, so my main issue was this book was something I brought up in the previous book: discipline. Or, the lack of. Arven and Diggum place a bowl of porridge so that Viola sits in it. After they confess, Abbot Durral “sentences” them to play in the orchard while Tansy, who had nothing to do with it, and Viola have to clean for arguing. What? So, okay, Arven and Diggum didn’t let Tansy take the fall for it, which is admirable, but there was no consequence? Not even an apology or tasked to clean up the porridge? Just sent out to play?
This happens again later on, when Arven leads two other Dibbuns out of the Abbey. Rather than be punished for it, Rangapaw rewards them and Log a Log states that they shouldn’t “break [the Dibbuns’] spirits.” What? What? What? No wonder all the Dibbuns are little terrors in every book!
Recommended Age Range: 10+
Warnings: Violence/fighting, war, death
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Inside the flourbag was the shell of a scallop, a huge one. Deep ridges on both sides met where the shell closed in a perfect watertight seal. At some time a clever and artful creature had created darkwood hinges to the shell’s back flanges and a cunning clasplock on the front. As Tansy opened the shell, she recited the second half of the rhyme:
“There wrought by mother nature ‘neath the main,
Lies that which holds the beauty, or the bane.”
Both halves of the scallop shell fell open before their eager eyes. The interior of the shell was lined with soft red cloth. One perfectly round ball of thin fine parchment nestled in a holder; five more holding spaces were empty.
“Why are you helping me like this, my child?”
Romsca sheathed her cutlass blade firmly. “I ain’t yore child, I keep tellin’ yer, an’ I ain’t doin’ this to ‘elp you. ‘Tis more fer my benefit you be kept alive. We’re sailin’ into bad cold weather, you wouldn’t last a day out on deck. Sit tight in ‘ere an’ keep the door locked, d’ye hear?”
Abbot Durral smiled warmly at the wild-looking corsair. “You are a good creature, Romsca. What a pity you chose the life of a corsair.”
Pearls of Lutra is another Redwall book that demonstrates that a good, solid plot with little to no side-tracking makes for a good story. The complicated (for Redwall) puzzle quest, combined with the hero’s journey with a unique twist, makes this book one of the more memorable ones in the series.
You can buy this here: Pearls of Lutra (Redwall)
Coming Up Next: The Long Patrol