High Rhulain is the eighteenth book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It was published in 2005 by Philomel. The Redwall wiki (spoilers!) can be found here, and info about Brian Jacques can be found here.
“Young Tiria Wildlough is an ottermaid touched by the paw of destiny. Her epic adventure takes her on a journey from Redwall Abbey across the Great Western Sea, to the mysterious Green Isle. There she must fulfill an ancient prophecy and gain her inheritance.
Green Isle is home to the otterclans, but they are beset by dangers from wildcat chieftain Riggu Felis and his catguard slave masters. Aided by two birds and a platoon of Long Patrol hares, Tiria joins forces with the outlaw leader of the otterclans in a battle that will test all their courage and skill.”
What I Liked:
This was a good, if unnecessary, “girl power” installment of Redwall. Tiria doesn’t do much fighting, but what she does is pretty impressive. She’s also one of the only main non-badger heroes to take out the main villain herself, albeit anticlimactically (but very poetically just).
I totally think that Brantalis was the best part of this book. I just love the way he talks. Also, I loved Zillo the Bard and pretty much all of the parts with the rogue otters on Green Isle, although it struck me a bit strange that they had never gone to Holt Summerdale before this. Ah, plot conveniences.
I also enjoyed the lore aspect of this book regarding the High Rhulain and the story that Quelt and the others find in Redwall. Jacques always has lore in some form or another in these books, but this one really struck me since the plot was really built around it.
Oh, and since I can’t read a book without pairing off all the characters…I totally ship Tiria/Leatho.
What I Didn’t Like:
I didn’t much like Skipper berating Tiria over feeling bad about killing someone. Yes, she stopped that creature from causing any more harm to other creatures, but that doesn’t mean she should enjoy it or whatever Skipper was implying. Personally, I think Tiria’s shock just humanizes her (creaturizes her?) and makes her more likeable than the bland, generic Skipper.
I called the “girl power” of this book unnecessary because it really is. Jacques has had both female warriors and female protagonists in Redwall before, and has done them more memorably and better than this rendition. The whole book just felt off because of the “you’re a girl and can’t do anything well” vibe, which has never been brought up in Redwall before and has never been assumed of any of the females in previous Redwall books.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Warnings: Violence/fighting, death.
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Tiria started immediately with Brantalis. “Listen, my friend. I know I can’t fly like you, but I must find the way to Green Isle. Are you willing to help?”
The barnacle goose clacked his beak resolutely. “I am thinking that I will help you, Tiria, after all your kindness to me. Here is the way Skyfurrows always take to Green Isle. Every autumn season we are flying down from the far northlands. Always we fly south, aye, fly south and follow the coast, until we are reaching the old mountain, home of the longears and great stripedog lords. Know you of it?”
Skipper Banjon did. “Aye, that’d be Salamandastron, where the fightin’ hares an’ Badger Lords dwell. I’ve heard of it but never been there meself. ‘Tis a mighty trek from Redwall to that mountain, I can tell ye!”
Brantalis nodded sagely. “A mighty trek, indeed, for earthcrawlers such as you. But I am thinking, there is a better route. If Brantalis could not fly, he would use the River Moss, north of here. I could speak the way to you, whilst you mark it down. The creatures of the Red Walls are good at marking ways down I am thinking.”
Colour Sergeant O’Cragg gave his eyes another wipe before returning the captain’s kerchief. “Bless ye, miss that’s h’a very nice thought.”
Big Kolun got the situation back on an even keel with his next remark. “I’ll give ye a very nice thought, Sergeant. Just ‘ow in the name o’ seasons do we get out o’ this crater?”
High Rhulain has some good moments in the forms of the lore, the rogue otters, and Brantalis the goose, but overall it is mostly forgettable. The “girl power” doesn’t sit well with the book as a whole and seems oddly out of place in a series that has never been shy with its female characters.
You can buy this here: High Rhulain (Redwall)