If I counted correctly, this is my 200th book review! Wow!
“In this twelfth book of the masterful Redwall epic, storyteller Brian Jacques goes back in time to the days before Redwall, revealing with dramatic poignancy the legend of the first of the magnificent Redwall warriors—Luke, father of Martin.
Joined by Trimp the Hedgehog, Dinny Foremole, and Gonff—the ever-mischievous Prince of Mousethieves—it is that legend Martin hopes to discover when he embarks on a perilous journey to the northland shore, where his father abandoned him as a child. There, within the carcass of a great red ship—broken in half and wedged high up between pillars of stone—he finally uncovers what he has been searching for: the true story of the evil pirate stoat, Vilu Daskar, and the valiant warrior who pursued him relentlessly over the high seas, seeking to destroy Vilu at all costs, even if it meant deserting his only son.”
What I Liked:
This book contains a unique format for Redwall: the story-within-a-story. The first and third parts are about Martin first traveling towards and then returning from the northern caves. The second part is Luke’s story, and what it shows above all is that Jacques was certainly capable of compacting a story when he wanted to. “In the Wake of the Red Ship,” as the characters call the tale, is essentially a novella, and it is probably the most concise story in all of Redwall. In fact, it makes the long, rambling journey of Martin, especially afterwards, seem boring and uneventful in comparison. I’ve always wondered why Jacques cuts out the return trip of the heroes in his books, and now I know why: after the meat of the story, such a long denouement is a bit…boring.
I love the character of Folgrim. We’ve had “gray” bad guys before, but Folgrim is maybe the closest we’ll get to a “gray” good guy, unless I’m mistaken. I’ve always liked otter characters and Folgrim is an especially interesting one. It’s always the unusual, abnormal quirky characters that are the most enticing in Redwall, it seems.
As much as I thought Martin’s journey was really flat compared to the fast-pace of Luke’s story, I did think that the dynamic between the characters was great—especially because there were so many on the journey. But Martin and Co. all sounded like old friends, and they interacted like old friends, and despite the large amount of people, nobody was lost in the mix. This might have been the best group dynamic in Redwall so far, even.
What I Didn’t Like:
Like I mentioned, Martin’s journey, especially the one back to Redwall, seems incredibly dim next to the bright and shining awesomeness of Luke’s. It’s nice to see his reaction to finally knowing what happened to his father, but the adventures he has are rather generic and almost take away from his introspections.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: Violence/fighting, death, war.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
“I’m Martin of Redwall, son of Luke the Warrior. Whom have I the pleasure of addressing, sir?”
The hare shook his hoary silver head, returning the smile. “Knew y’father well, sah. Excellent chap! I’m Beauhair Fethringham Cosfortingsol. No I ain’t, I’m Beausol Fethringhair Cosfortingclair. No I ain’t, wait a tick. I’m Beauham Fethringclair Confounditall. Tchah! I’m so old I’ve forgotten me own name. What a disgrace, wot!”
“What would you sooner do, Vurg, freeze t’death, drown t’death, or starve t’death?”
The mouse opened one eye and murmured, “You didn’t say wot wot.”
“Wot wot? Why the deuce should I say wot wot?”
Vurg smiled sleepily. “’Cos you always say wot wot!”
Beau’s ears stood rigid with indignation. “I beg your very pardon, sir, I do not. Wot wot?”
“In the Wake of the Red Ship” is pretty brilliant, Redwall-wise. The other two parts are interesting, with a really good group dynamic and some interesting characters, but they unfortunately pale in comparison to the middle part. If only Jacques wrote every Redwall book like he wrote Luke’s story, because if you remember, the more concise the plot of a Redwall tale is, the better the Redwall tale is.
You can buy this here: Legend Of Luke (Redwall)