Wrap-Up of Redwall

Series Rating: 3/5

It was a long journey, but I finally made it through all 22 Redwall books! Here’s a series that follows that old rhyme about the little girl with the little curl in the middle of her forehead: when it’s good, it’s really good (or at least pretty good), but when it’s bad it’s horrid. Jacques recycles plots and character types like mad, resulting in stale and predictable stories, sometimes with forgettable heroes and useless villains.

However, there are also times when Jacques spins a wonderful yarn, with engaging characters and subversions of his own formulas. He also can pull at your heartstrings with the deaths of sweet, innocent characters (the most notable example is Rose) or the deaths of awesome warriors (Clary and Thyme!). The entire Redwall series revolves around a strict Black and White, Justice Prevails system, which can be quite refreshing–and makes the books with more “grey” characters stand out from the rest,  in a good way, as subversions of his own theme. His best books are those that have most or all of these good things, coupled with a focused plot and a decent villain.

I must admit, though, that it’s not necessary at all to read all of the Redwall books. The top four on my list below, and the first book Redwall, are the ones I would recommend reading from the series. Redwall and/or Mossflower are sufficient to get a look at what the series is about, but the other three feature the most unique (in my opinion) plot and characters (Taggerung); the most heart-wrenching story (Martin the Warrior); and the best Invasion/War plot (The Long Patrol). I’ll even go a step further and name the books to read for specific categories:

For Best Puzzle Quest, read Pearls of Lutra (although Redwall has a good one).

For Best Villain, read The Sable Quean.

For Best Redwall Story, read “In The Wake of the Red Ship” from The Legend of Luke.

For Best Female Warrior, read Mariel of Redwall and The Bellmaker, because even though I didn’t like Mariel much, Mariel and Bellmaker also feature Hon. Rosie, who is awesome.

These are all entirely based on my opinion, of course.

Speaking of opinion, here is my list of favorites, from most to least:

1.) Taggerung

2.) Martin the Warrior

3.) Mossflower

4.) The Long Patrol

5.) Rakkety Tam

6.) The Sable Quean
7.) The Bellmaker

8.) The Legend of Luke

9.) Pearls of Lutra

10.) Marlfox

11.) Redwall

12.) Mattimeo

13.) Lord Brocktree

14.) Doomwyte

15.) High Rhulain

16.) Loamhedge

17.) Triss

18.) Mariel of Redwall

19.) Outcast of Redwall

20.)The Rogue Crew

21.) Salamandastron

22.) Eulalia!

Thanks for sticking with me for this enormously long series!

 

Summer of Redwall: The Rogue Crew

The Rogue Crew is the twenty-second book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It was published in 2011 by Philomel, and I believe it was done so posthumously. The Redwall wiki (spoilers!) can be found here, and info about Brian Jacques can be found here.

Summary/Blurb:

 “Redwall Abbey has never seen a creature more evil or more hideous than Razzid Wearat. Captain of the Greenshroud, a ship with wheels that can sail through water as well as the forest, this beast is a terror of both land and sea, traveling Mossflower Country, killing nearly everything—and everyone—in his path. And his goal? To conquer Redwall Abbey.

From Salamandastron to the High North Coast, the brave hares of the Long Patrol team up with the fearless sea otters of the Rogue Crew to form a pack so tough, so rough, only they can defend the Abbey and defeat Razzid Wearat once and for all.”

Thoughts:

Unfortunately, the last Redwall book is also a forgettable one. Characters remain the same and are indistinguishable from each other, the villain is flat and boring, the plot is exactly the same as numerous other Redwall plots (and not even as good as others that deal with invasions, such as The Long Patrol) and the first three-quarters of the book are set-up for the last quarter, which makes for an anticlimactic invasion and end. It was sad to end the series on this note, especially since The Sable Quean was such a nice departure from the monotonous regularity of Redwall.

However, how Razzid is defeated is pretty unique for the series. It reminded me a little bit of the demise of Zwilt the Shade in The Sable Quean. It’s definitely not how the reader expects Razzid to be killed. Also, speaking of uniqueness, Lady Violet is not the typical Badger Lord, which is refreshing. Sadly, she only appears twice, at the beginning and at the end.

Poor Swiffo! I mean, it was pretty obvious what was going to happen to you, but still. Jacques seems to like making the genuinely likable characters die so that everyone is sad, including the reader.

 Rating: 2/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: Violence/fighting, death.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Tapestry by chichapie. Featuring many of the heroes from Redwall.

Passages/Quotes:

Skor rose, hefting his massive battleaxe. “So, what think ye, Nightfur? We number three an’ a half score—that’s mine an’ Ruggan’s crew with yore Long Patrol warriors. Are ye game t’go up agin’ a shipload o’ vermin?”

Rake needed no second invitation. “Ye have mah paw, mah blades an’ mah heart on it, Skor. Taegether we’ll find ‘em. ‘Tis guid tae be with a Rogue Crew again. Sergeant, form up the column tae march!”

~Jacques 193

Overall Review:

The Rogue Crew, despite being the last book, is not a good finish for the series. Granted, all the books have separate arcs, but I would much rather have the last book in Redwall be The Sable Quean then The Rogue Crew. The Rogue Crew is too formulaic, too predictable, too indistinguishable from other Redwall books to be a good Redwall book.

You can buy this here: The Rogue Crew (Redwall)

Summer of Redwall: The Sable Quean

The Sable Quean is the twenty-first book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It was published in 2010 by Philomel. The Redwall wiki (spoilers!) can be found here, and info about Brian Jacques can be found here.

Summary/Blurb:

“He appears out of thin air, and vanishes just as quickly. He is Zwilt the Shade, and he is evil. Yet he is no match for his ruler, Vilaya, the Sable Quean. Along with their hordes of vermin, these two have devised a plan to conquer Redwall Abbey. And when the Dibbuns go missing, captured one by one, their plan is revealed.

Will the Redwallers risk the fate of their Abbey and all of Mossflower Wood to save their precious young ones? Perhaps Buckler, Blademaster of the Long Patrol, can save the day. He has a score of his own to settle. And fear not, these Dibbuns are not as innocent as they appear. After all, they’re from Redwall.”

Thoughts:

Unfortunate title aside (“Quean” means a “disreputable woman,” but specifically a prostitute. Not sure why the publishers let that through, unless Jacques was aiming for the Scottish, which means “a young or unmarried woman”), The Sable Quean is a really refreshing Redwall book. There’s a competent, smart female villain who doesn’t go mad and who mourns the loss of her counselor; a sinister, albeit inferior threat that has an awesome death scene; a mole warrior; and a fairly realistic side-plot about what’s it like to travel with a bunch of infants and young children.

Vilaya and Zwilt the Shade are very good Redwall villains; two of the best, in fact. It’s rare to have competent villains, and both are. Vilaya’s plan just makes so much more sense than the usual “Let’s go attack Redwall Abbey” villain plan, and it probably would have worked very effectively if our Plucky Heroes hadn’t interfered. While Vilaya’s death is very quick, Zwilt has a prolonged fight with Buckler, and the end of that fight is one of the more striking scenes in the series.

I don’t know why it took Jacques twenty-one books to introduce a mole warrior, but there is finally one in this book and he is awesome. Moles are too good to be sidekicks. They deserve to swing massive hammers like Thor and kill all the enemies with just the help of a badger. Wow, if Axtel is Thor, then that means Ambry is, I don’t know, the Hulk? Redwall Avengers, assemble!

The most refreshing thing about this book was the absence of any Puzzle/Fetch Quest. Jacques tends to switch between Fetch Quest and War/Invasion with each book, but for some reason I feel that the last few books have been heavy on riddles. There were no riddles in this book, and, actually, very few songs. More time was dedicated to things like plot and development, which is a good thing.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: Violence/fighting, death.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

“Woodlanders with families, relatives and friends. The young ones, their babes, their kindred, are the hope of the future, the very lifeblood of peaceful creatures. They would do anything to protect their brood, even fight. But how can they fight what is not there? The worry, the grief and sorrow at the loss of their dearest treasure. Where are their young ones? Are they alive or dead? No woodlander or Abbeydweller will know until I speak to them on my terms. Give me what I want, and your families will be allowed to live. They will, believe me, because the alternative would be too awful for them to image. That is my plan, Zwilt.”

~Jacques 49-50

Overall Review:

I enjoyed reading The Sable Quean and I would deem it one of the better Redwall books. I do think the war books are better than the riddle ones in general, and this one has smart villains and some new character types (such as a mole warrior!). It came as a welcome relief after the last few bad Redwall books, and I’ll be honest, it’s nice to know there’s only one book left.

You can buy this here: The Sable Quean (Redwall)

Summer of Redwall: Doomwyte

Doomwyte is the twentieth book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It was published in 2008 by Philomel. The Redwall wiki (spoilers!) can be found here, and info about Brian Jacques can be found here.

Summary/Blurb:

“Who stole the jeweled eyes of the Great Doomwyte Idol long ago? What horrors dwell in the caves beneath the wooded hill—the realm of the fearsome Korvus Skurr, the black-feathered raven?

Young Redwallers and their friends find themselves in the grips of adventure, solving mysterious riddles and battling villainous foes in daring underground forays. Join them in the quest, the feasts, the songs, and the fray. Unite with tribes of the Guosim and Gonfelin against vermin, carrions, and the dangerous Wytes. Discover why the black avenger haunts the wooded slopes. But most of all, beware of the dreaded Balis!”

Thoughts:

[Quick note: There is no What I Liked/Didn’t Like because I’m experimenting with a new form of review writing. I’ll just be combining my thoughts, positive and negative.]

We’re almost at the end, thank goodness.

This book was refreshing in terms of plot elements: some of the Fetch Quest Items were outside the Abbey, rather than hidden inside; the villain and his cronies were fairly unique; and Tugga Bruster was a mean and nasty Log a Log that nobody really mourned. I wish Balis hadn’t been given the Mad Villain Treatment so early on, but the threat he made even going mad was at least legitimate unlike Korvus Skurr, who didn’t actually do much besides throw snakes to the catfish.

I do think the Redwall books with one main hero and his/her sidekick are better than the group hero books because the former can focus more on development. Bisky and the others (I can’t even remember their names) were pretty flat and even Bosie, who carried the Sword of Martin, was forgettable. I did like Zaran, though, because even though she filled the “warrior wants revenge” trope, I did think she was quite sweet (as in charming) as a whole, and she managed to put the past behind her and move on with a new life.

Also, I did like the inclusion of the Gonfelins, even though we’ve never heard of them before, and some of the new places found in the Abbey. This book was heavy on exploring for much of it, and I enjoy exploring.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: Violence/fighting, death.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

“Outside in the rainswept, clouded night, across the water-logged lawns and dropping beds of daffodils, late snow-drops, early periwinkle and purple pasque blooms, a single, silent, pale light floated in over the threshold wall. It was soon followed by a second. Between them they slid back the well-greased bar of the main gates. With scarcely a creak, the outer gates opened a mere fraction. That was enough. At ground level, and slightly higher up, the eerie lights shimmered in, half a score of the mysterious flames, undimmed by the downpour. The Wytes had come to Redwall Abbey.”

~Jacques 75

Overall Review:

Doomwyte, while still not a great Redwall book, and still too reliant on past archetypes, at least subverted a few things, such as with the character of Tugga Bruster. Balis was pretty threatening and made up (mostly) for Korvus Skurr being a weak villain, although I think Jacques relies on the “going mad” trope too much with his villains. While a lot of the heroes were forgettable, Zaran was sweet and the search for the Doomwyte Idol gems was better than some of the other Fetch Quests.

You can buy this here: Doomwyte (Redwall)

Summer of Redwall: Eulalia!

Eulalia! is the nineteenth book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It was published in 2007 by Philomel.

Summary/Blurb:

“Across the seas comes Vizka Longtooth, with a scurrilous crew of Sea Raiders bound for plunder and conquest. Aboard, a young badger lies captive. The aged badger Lord of Salamandastron sends forth a haremaid, questing for his successor. A young thief is exiled from Redwall. A Brownrat Chieftain, with his savage horde, ravages Mossflower Country. The fate of all these creatures, both good and evil, is caught up in this sage of war and destiny.”

What I Liked:

I had the unfortunate pleasure to read this book during a very hectic week of my life, when I was getting ready for school and moving to a different apartment. Because of that, a lot of Eulalia! was very forgettable to me, partly due to the story itself and partly due to the distractions I had while reading it.

The one character that stood out to me was Maudie, mainly because I thought it humorous whenever (the Hon.) showed up in her name. I think she was most likely modeled after Dottie or Hon Rosie (or both), since both characters are fairly popular.

Oh! And Gorath learning not to rely on his Bloodwrath was a nice circumvention of the norm.

What I Didn’t Like:

It’s not that anything in this book I instantly disliked, it’s just that everything was so entirely forgettable. It was just plain “meh” through and through. It wasn’t as funny as some of the Redwall books can get, nor was it as original as some of them. The characters weren’t memorable; neither was the plot nor the lore. In fact, it was so “meh” that I can’t even think of anything to elaborate on.

Rating: 1/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: Violence/fighting, death.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Passages/Quotes:

There was not a single cloud on Maudie (the Hon.) Mugsberry Thropple’s horizon. The young haremaid did not even feel the weight of the haversack on her back as she skipped blithely along the dunetops. She, among all other hares at Salamandastron, had been chosen to go on this most important quest. Once more, she went over the instructions, which had been drummed into her by Lord Asheye and Major Mullein.

“Find a bloomin’ badger. One who knows not his own strength. A beast from the simple life, who shuns armour, an’ knows not the sword. Er, what else? Oh, yes, he’s got destiny marked on his blinkin’ brow, an’ er, what’s next?”

She paused on one paw, wrinkling her nose. “Er…er…gottit! He walks with a banished one, an’ a flame, that’s it. Find him an’ haul the blighter back to the jolly old mountain. Oh, well remembered, that, maid!”

~Jacques 44

Overall Review:

Eulalia! was, regrettably, highly forgettable. I don’t know whether it was the book itself or just my state of mind while reading it, but since this is Redwall, and Redwall lacks originality within its own framework, I’m going to say that it was the book that was forgettable.

You can buy this here: Eulalia! (Redwall)

Coming Up Next:

Summer of Redwall: High Rhulain

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.

Summary/Blurb:

“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.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: Violence/fighting, death.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

~silverbirch

Passages/Quotes:

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.”

~Jacques 91

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?”

~Jacques 332

Overall Review:

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)

Summer of Redwall: Rakkety Tam

Rakkety Tam is the seventeenth book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It was published in 2004 by Philomel. The Redwall wiki (spoilers!) can be found here, and info about Brian Jacques can be found here.

Summary/Blurb:

“From beyond the cold northern seas and the lands of ice, a terrifying beast arrives on the shores of Mossflower Country: Gulo the Savage! With his crew of white-furred vermin, this creature out of nightmare comes to murder his brother and seize the fabled Walking Stone. Nobeast is safe from the mighty Gulo, who feasts on the flesh of his enemies.

But something stands between Gulo and what he seeks: the ancient Abbey of Redwall. Who will come to the aid of Abbot Humble and his peaceful woodlanders? The mercenary warriors from the borders, Rakkety Tam MacBurl, that’s who! With his mate Wild Doogy Plumm, the brave squirrel sets forth on a quest to rescue two kidnapped Redwall maidens, and joins forces with one hundred perilous hares from the Long Patrol. Together they face a battle that ranges far over the plains, streams and woodlands of Mossflower in this epic tale of war, courage and comradeship.”

What I Liked:

This is definitely the most indulgent of the Redwall books. You can tell that Jacques wrote it because he wanted a protagonist with a Scottish accent. And this indulgent feel makes the book tons of fun to read. Plus, Tam and Doogy are some of the more endearing heroes of the series as a whole.

Rakkety Tam also does away with the annoying “hares are constantly hungry” trope taken up to eleven, and instead focuses on the “hares are perilous beasts” trope which is much, much better (hence why The Long Patrol is so good). Really, any book with The Long Patrol taking center stage is good, because it focuses more on military technique than the overused “where’s the scoff?” aspect of the hares.

I LOVE this art!!

And speaking of military technique, I loved the strategy used by the creatures in this book, especially the “use the terrain against your enemy” strategy and the “let’s let them think their plan worked” strategy. It’s all the more satisfying because the villain of this book, Gulo, is from the start described as Awful and Terrible, even more so than other villains. He doesn’t just kill innocents, he eats them. And speaking of Gulo, hooray for a death scene that is not anticlimactic!

Also, there are moments of humor in this book that I found especially good and memorable, notably the scene where Brooky is sure that the snake threatening Armel is a grass snake, only to wipe away the mud and find out that it was an adder as Armel thought and thinks it’s hilarious. Oh, and “cwown pwince Woopert.”

What I Didn’t Like:

Hmmm…for the most part, I think this book did a very good job of avoiding or subverting a lot of the tropes that Jacques has used in the previous Redwall books. However, it’s still the same basic plot as all the Redwall books. It’s just less noticeable because of the aforementioned avoidance of tropes.

Rating: 5/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: Violence/fighting, death.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

~chichapie

Passages/Quotes:

Sister Screeve spread her parchment upon the ground. “Thank you kindly, sir. If Miss Brookflow can stop her merriment for just a moment, I’ll read the rhyme. Are you finished miss?”

The jolly ottermaid stifled her mouth with both paws. “Whoohoohoo…Oops! Sorry, Sister, just once more. Whoohoohaha! There, that’s better. Right, let’s get on with unpuzzling the riddle, or unrizzling the puddle. Whoohaha…”

Brooky looked about at the stern faces. “Sorry.”

Brooky broke out into laughter again. “That’s right! Oh, you are an old cleverclogs, Armel. No wonder they made you Infirmary Sister. But I was the best pebble chucker—I hit the sun more times than you did. They should’ve made me Abbey Pebble Chucker. Hahahahaha!”

She looked around at the stern faces, and the laughter faded on her lips. “Oh, you lot are about as funny as a boiled frog!”

~Jacques 92-93, 97

Tam grinned wolfishly. “Right, that’s what we’ll do then!”

Yoofus looked aghast. “Ye mean, go into the pine groves?”

It was Doogy’s turn to look superior. “Och, ye wee pudden-headed robber! Lissen now, an’ get yore own eddication completed. Rakkety Tam MacBurl’s got a braw brain for plannin’. Tell him, mate!”

The border squirrel outlined his scheme. “We’ve got to get Gulo to take his vermin into those pine groves. He doesn’t know about the big black birds.”
~Jacques 197

Overall Review:

Rakkety Tam has an indulgent feel that just makes it fun to read, and in this book Jacques avoids or is more subtle with the tropes he has used to death in previous Redwall books, making for a Redwall book that at least feels different. The military aspect of the book is very good and the inclusion of The Long Patrol does away with the “solitary hungry hare” that is so ridiculous in previous books. It’s a fun book, and a welcome relief from the monotony of Redwall plots.

You can buy this here: Rakkety Tam: A Novel of Redwall

Summer of Redwall: Loamhedge

Loamhedge is the sixteenth book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It was published in 2003 by Philomel. The Redwall wiki (spoilers!) can be found here, and info about Brian Jacques can be found here.

Summary/Blurb:

“Loamhedge, the deserted Abbey, forgotten for countless seasons. What secrets do its ruins hold?

Martha Braebuck, a young haremaid, wheelchair-bound since infancy, wonders about a mysterious old poem relating to the ancient Abbey. Could it really be the key to her cure? But how could she get to this Loamhedge? As fate has it, two old warriors, travelers returning to Redwall Abbey, are inspired by the spirit of Martin the Warrior to quest for the ancient place—and three young rebels are determined to go with them.

In another part of Mossflower Country, the giant badger Lonna Bowstripe thirsts for vengeance as he relentlessly hunts down the Searat Raga Bol and his murderous crew. He pursues them unto the very gates of Redwall—and finds valiant Abbeybeasts defending their home against the conniving band of marauding vermin!

~Inside Flap

What I Liked:

I liked that the heroes (two of them, anyway) were old warriors and served as the mentors of the three younger ones. It made the trope of “the heroes of Redwall know everything about fighting despite never going outside the Abbey walls before” much less noticeable. Horty, Fenna, and Springald are inexperienced and rash, and as a result have noticeable character development throughout the book as they journey with Bragoon and Saro.

Although not as good as the Freebooters in Triss, Badredd’s gang are portrayed more sympathetically/comically than other vermin gangs in the Redwall series. Despite their overall inefficiency, they do manage to lay siege to Redwall, and perhaps because of their comic portrayal, all of the named members of the gang that attacked Redwall survive and go off and apparently live off the land for the rest of their lives. Flinky, their Chief when the gang escapes Redwall, is also liked by the rest of the vermin, another rarity. I do enjoy these moments of departure from the Redwall formula, especially in a book that is full of said formula. Also, Ka-chunk!

What I Didn’t Like:

So, how did Sister Amyl get out of her wheelchair? It seems too unlikely that her and Martha’s inability to walk were both psychosomatic. In fact, the entire “willpower cure” that Bragoon and Sara create seems a bit crass, and not at all representative of actual disabilities. Willpower (or positive thinking) is good and does affect certain areas of your life, but having the message of the book be “through willpower your disability will vanish” seems…shortsighted.

So, the “hares are always hungry” gag was mildly funny for the first few books, but Jacques has really amped it up since then and now it’s only annoying. Horty is not as bad as Scarum, but still quite obnoxious. And speaking of formulas, the shrews were definitely only put in there so that there was a band of shrews with an acronym name.

I’m confused as to why Martha didn’t become Abbess, after all the leading she did during the battle, and Fenna, of all creatures, did.

Raga Bol, another vermin to have the most anticlimactic death ever. I’ve noticed that when badger lords are involved, the villain’s death is always swift and always anticlimactic.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: Violence/fighting, death.

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Lonna Bowstripe

Passages/Quotes:

A light smile hovered on Portula’s kind face. “Listen, missy, if you think we were naughty, you should have seen two Dibbuns who were younger than us at the time. Bragoon and Saro, an otter and a squirrel. Now those two really were a twin pestilence!”

Martha turned to Toran. “I’ve heard you telling the young ones tales about Bragoon and Saro, but I always thought they were make-believe creatures. Were they actually real?”

The ottercook nodded vigorously. “Oho, missy, that they were!”

~Jacques 25

It was a breathtaking panorama from the plateau. Horty’s keen eyes spotted a small dark smudge, moving across the scrublands in the distance. He pointed. “I say, you chaps, that could be thingummy, er, Lonna!”

Springald shaded her eyes “So it could! He’s headed northwest, that’s the direction we came from. Saro, d’you suppose he’s going to Redwall?”

Sarobando felt they were wasting time sightseeing. “I couldn’t really say, missy, but one thing’s shore, we ain’t goin’ to Redwall. ‘Tis Loamhedge we want.”

~Jacques 252

Overall Review:

Loamhedge has good development for the three young heroes, and a rare element of old warriors acting as mentors throughout the journey. Badredd’s gang served as a departure from the usual villain formula, as well. However, the rest of the book was nothing special and Jacque’s reliance on past character traits is getting old. Also, the whole quest to find a cure for Martha had a slight “unfortunate implications” ending.

You can buy this here: Loamhedge: A Novel of Redwall

Summer of Redwall: Triss

Triss is the fifteenth book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It was published in 2002 by Philomel.

Summary/Blurb:

“Enslaved by the evil ferret King Agarnu and his daughter Princess Kurda—slavers of shackled hundreds—the brave squirrelmaid Triss, along with Shogg the otter and Welfo the hedgehog, plans a daring escape by sea.

At the same time, far away in Salamandastron, three young companions, Scarum the hare, Sagax the badger and Kroova the otter, are driven to sail away from their mountain home, too, but for a different reason: they are seeking the adventures of their lives! Something far from family and home.

And in Mossflower Woods, a pair of wandering Dibbuns accidentally discovers the long-lost entrance to Brockhall, the most ancient hall of the badger Lords.

The journeyers could not seem more remote from one another in pursuit or kind. Yet fate relentlessly draws them together when, in her flight from Kurda, Triss happens upon Redwall, and the abbey creatures discover a new hero in her. Someone brave enough to carry the sword of Martin and face the evil that threatens them.”

~Inside Flap

What I Liked:

So, Triss is the first female carrier-of-the-Sword-of-Martin, and Kurda is the second female main villain. That’s pretty cool.

My favorite part of the book was anything with the Freebooters, probably the most likeable group of villains in Redwall. Not only are they the only vermin group to actually mourn their captain’s loss, and seem genuinely devastated by his death, but they also write a poem about him. Captain Plugg is also great, in that he is very self-conscious about the loss of his tail and sticks it on with resin, but then in the heat of the moment, when he gets overexcited, he pulls it off and waves it around his head. Do we have fan art of that moment? We need fan art of that moment. Finally, Grubbage takes a place next to Blaggut in the friendly vermin category, as it is stated that he stays on with the Redwallers after the rest of the Freebooters are defeated.

Really, the Freebooters were the best part of the book. I also quite liked the fact that the rescue of the slaves was written in journal entry form, which was a nice departure from the usual.

Log a Log’s comment to Triss about justice versus revenge was really good, too, emphasizing the fact that Jacques has his good characters fight and kill honorably and justly.

What I Didn’t Like:

Scarum is by far the most annoying, unlikeable hare in the Redwall series. Jacques took the gag of the “bottomless stomach” that he uses with his hares and amped it up to eleven. Not only that, but Scarum and Sagax (and Kroova to an extent) are completely unnecessary characters. In fact, once they join up with Triss and Shogg, they’re barely mentioned at all (that is, Kroova and Sagax are. Scarum is the annoying comic relief mentioned far too often).

What is it with Jacques and anticlimactic endings? The adders spend three quarters of the book terrorizing the forest and die in three sentences, one for each adder. They were also far more dangerous and killed more creatures than did Kurda and Co., and yet Kurda got a more extensive death scene.

While the addition of the adders and Brockhall was interesting, it seemed a bit strange to have that the focus of the book, while the rescue of the slaves from Riftgard only takes up one chapter at the end. It’s more original than the usual Redwall fare, but it just seemed out of place.

Rating: 3/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: Violence/fighting, death

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

~WinstonOffBeat1

Passages/Quotes:

“Th-there’s another sound, like somethin’ moving through the grass towards us!”

Then they smelt the odour, musty and bittersweet. It grew stronger. The grass swished in both directions, then it swished behind them, getting closer. Crikulus’s voice was tight with terror. He swallowed hard.

“That sound…th-the smell…We’re being hunted by somebeast we c-c-can’t see!”

Malbun felt every hair on her body standing up. The sounds and the vile, powerful smell were almost upon them. Her voice was little more than a petrified squeak. “There’s m-more than one of th-th-them. Yaaaaaaaah!”

~Jacques 119

Plugg set off at her side, but felt himself pulled back by Grubbage. He turned irately on the fat searat. “Will ye stop tuggin’ at me, wot is it?”

Grubbage held the tail up. “This just fell off, Cap’n, must’ve been the heat from that fire,” he whispered.

With a swift motion, Plugg grabbed the tail and punched Grubbage on the nose. “Why don’t ye shout a bit louder an’ let the ’ole woodlands know, bigmouth!”

Running stooped, Scummy panted as he fixed Plugg’s tail back in place, with the fox marching forward boldly. Scummy muttered to Grubbage, “I ‘ope this Redwall place ain’t too far!”

Grubbage nodded agreement. “Aye, mebbe we shoulda used tar!”
~Jacques 294-295

Overall Review:

Triss has a fair number of useless characters, including two of the main “heroes,” and Triss herself rings of a Mary Sue. The entire plot is also a bit strange, as well as anticlimactic. The Freebooters, though, were great. Keep waving your tail around your head, Plugg Firetail.

You can buy this here: Triss: A Novel of Redwall

Summer of Redwall: Taggerung

Taggerung is the fourteenth book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It was published in 2001 by Philomel. It is the sequel to Marlfox. The Redwall wiki (spoilers!) can be found here, and info about Brian Jacques can be found here.

Summary/Blurb:

“The vermin clan of Sawney Rath has long awaited their Taggerung—the chosen beast who will lead them to victory against any foe. Now at last the seer Grissoul has foretold the Taggerung’s birth: they will find him by the river, and know him by the birthmark on one paw.

But the marked beast that they discover is neither stoat nor fox nor rat, but an otterbabe! Nonetheless, the vermin take and raise him. It is only when the young otter steps into his famed and fearsome role that he sense something is wrong. Very wrong!

Is he the Taggerung after all? And if he is not, who is he?”

~Inside Flap

What I Liked:

I mentioned way back in my review of Mossflower that Taggerung was my favorite Redwall book, but I didn’t know if that would change or not because of this reread.

It’s still true. Taggerung is, by far, my favorite Redwall book. And the reason why is because, despite still sticking to several familiar Redwall formulas, Taggerung is an incredibly unique book in the series. Not only does Jacques stay away from some of the more familiar and getting-old symbols of the series, he also circumvents some of them.

Example one: the puzzle quest. Not only does Mhera fail to solve the puzzle, it’s also not a puzzle set out seasons in advance by some wise, ancient creature (although Song did lead the way). There’s also no treasure/reward/goal for the puzzle; it’s purely a test of character.

Example two: the villains. Usually, the main villain is either smarter than his cohorts or strong enough that brains don’t matter. However, almost every single vermin in Gruven’s tracking party are competent, cunning and knowledgable, notably Vallug and Eefera. For once, they’re not blundering around. Vallug and Eefera, by themselves, also manage to do quite a bit of damage to Redwall.

Example three: the side characters, Nimbalo especially. I don’t think any character has a background like Nimbalo’s. The side characters also sound unique for their staple species, so that Boorab doesn’t just sound like a regular hare, he sounds like Boorab and not some interchangeable hare.

My final reason for liking Taggerung so much is that Deyna is awesome, and a nice departure from the usual heroes of Redwall.

What I Didn’t Like:

Just like Veil was Automatically Evil, Deyna is Automatically Good. Not even being raised in a vermin camp by a vermin can shake his morals. A nice plot device and a nice sentiment, one that I liked in fact, but I don’t know how realistic it is.

Russano’s arrival is a bit Deus Ex Machina.

Rating: 5/5

Recommended Age Range: 12+

Warnings: Violence/fighting, war, death

Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

Great fan art by KaiserFlames!

Passages/Quotes:

“So then, Grissoul, is this what we came seeking? Tell me.”

The Seer opened the cloak and inspected Deyna. She held up the infant’s right paw, showing Sawney the marked pad. “See!”

The four-petal mark was pink and clear, like a tiny blossom. Sawney looked anxiously at Grissoul. “Well, is it really him?”

For answer the Seer took Sawney’s paw and placed it against the otterbabe’s footpaws. Then she spoke.

“Zann Juskarath Taggerung!”

Sawney recognized the ancient words, and translated them.

“Mighty warrior of our clan. Taggerung!”

~Jacques 25-26

Boorab called out, loud and curt. “We’re listenin’. Who are you and what d’you want?”

Vallug’s voice came back a moment later. “Never mind who we are. Send out the Taggerung!”

Boorab looked at Mhera, who gave a mystified shrug. “What in the blazes d’you mean?” he shouted back.

This time it was Eefera’s voice that replied. “We’ve come fer the Taggerung!”

The hare had been binding his kerchief to the end of the ladle he carried about as a swagger stick. He sprang up waving it. “Truce, chaps, truce!” He sidestepped smartly, but was not quick enough to stop Vallug’s arrow slicing a wound in his cheek as it zipped by.

“No truce, rabbit. Send the Taggerung out to us, or yore all deadbeasts, that’s all!”

~Jacques 319

Overall Review:

Taggerung is my favorite Redwall book, and definitely one of the best due to the unique features and the departures and circumventions of the usual Redwall formulas. The villains are actually competent and genuinely terrifying when two, and then I think six total, manage to wreak havoc in Redwall. Before Deyna goes all awesome on them, I mean.

You can buy this here: Taggerung (Redwall)