Lord Brocktree is the thirteenth book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It was published in 2000 by Philomel. Chronologically, it is the very first book of Redwall, making it the prequel to everything. The Redwall wiki (spoilers!) can be found here, and info about Brian Jacques can be found here.
“The brazen, young haremaid Dotti and the badger-warrior Lord Brocktree—unlikely comrades—set out for Salamandastron together only to discover the legendary mountain has been captured by the wild cat Ungatt Trunn and his Blue Hordes.
This is not what they expected! Seized by rage, the badger knows bloodwrath is not enough. To face the Blue Hordes, the two must rally an army—hares and otters, shrews and moles, mice and squirrels—and execute a plan that makes up in cleverness what it lacks in force!”
What I Liked:
Lord Brocktree is probably the cleverest Badger Lord and throughout the book relies more on his brain than his brawn. It’s a nice departure from the usual, especially since many of Jacques’ characters all start sounding the same after a while. Another nice departure was the antagonism between Fleetscut and Jukka and the maidenry (is that a word?) of Dotti. Her emphasis on proper manners just to rile her opponents made for some of the funniest scenes in the book, and let’s not forget all the times she called herself a “kingess.”
All of the Redwall books have fighting in them, and most have some sort of war, but I think that this book has the best depiction in terms of siege, battle plans, etc. Like I said above, Brocktree is smart, and we get to see him both come up with and carry out his plans. That being said, while Brocktree is the hero of the story, he’s much more like an Aragorn hero and not like the typical Redwall hero. The only other way I can think to describe him is that he’s kingly. Compare him to Sunflash, the badger hero of Outcast of Redwall, and you’ll see what I mean.
For some reason, I thought the ending of the book was really well done. The army breaking up and going their separate ways on their ships was just really touching. Also, Rulango is the best heron ever.
What I Didn’t Like:
There was absolutely no reason to include Skittles. None. I am 100% certain that he was only included to continue the formula of “adorable, precocious (more like annoying) baby.”
At this point in the series, I’m starting to notice even more the same-ness of everything in Redwall. This one had some unique features (acquiring the army from Bucko, the defense, siege, counter-attack, etc. of Salamandastron), but thirteen books in, this series is starting to drag a bit.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: Fighting/violence, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
It was a crude sketch, done with a piece of burnt wood from last night’s fire. There was an arrow pointing downstream and a depiction of herself sitting on the boat. By a sharp bend in the stream, Ruff and Brocktree were drawn, apparently waiting for her. Also there was some sketchy writing, obviously Ruff’s: “See U att noone.”
The haremaid studied it, still chunnering to herself.
“See me at noon where the stream bends, eh? Well, how flippin’ nice to let a body know, blinkin’ deserters! Tchah! Is that supposed t’be a picture of me? Just look at those miserable ears. Mine are a jolly sight prettier than that, wot! Hmph! No wonder that otter’s folks chucked him out—his spellin’s dreadful!”
She found the burn stick and corrected it all to her satisfaction, drawing a huge stomach on Ruff and an ugly drooping snout on the Badger Lord. Finally, after adding many touches to make the likeness of herself more beautiful, Dotti gave Ruff a black mark for his spelling.
Ruff squeezed Dotti’s paw as the hare’s boat pulled upstream, his face wreathed in a big smile. “Full marks, miss. You was magnificent!”
Dotti kept up the pose, simpering and fluttering her lids. “Why thank you, my good fellow. Did it earn one perhaps a smidgen of that woodland trifle which Gurth made, wot?”
The otter shook his head firmly. “’Fraid not, miss.”
“Yah, go an’ boil your beastly head, y’great slabsided boatnosed planktailed excuse for a wrothless water-walloper!”
Lord Brocktree is markedly different from other Redwall heroes, a nice feature in a book where all the characters are starting to sound the same as iterations of their species in previous books. The strategy part of the battle was great, and the ending is one of the more poignant in the series. However, Skittles was unnecessary and annoying, and the Redwall-formula is starting to wear thin.
You can buy this book here: Lord Brocktree: A Novel of Redwall