Brian Jacques was both a master storyteller and a jack-of-all-trades. He lived the life of a sailor, actor, stand-up comedian, radio host, bobby, even a bus driver. He was the recipient of an honorary doctorate in literature from the University of Liverpool and a New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty-five books for younger readers, including the wildly popular Redwall series. Dr. Jacques was a lifelong resident of Liverpool, England.
Jacques sticks to the tried-and-true in the latest installment of the Redwall series. In the declining years of the characters previously featured in Pearls of Lutra, a menacing band of raiders again threatens Redwall Abbey. And once again the good animals of Redwall and Mossflower must join together to fight the invader. A new protagonist, the young hare Tammo, joins the Long Patrol, an outfit charged with the protection of all the animals in Mossflower Wood and fabled for its soldiering; he does well in battle but wants no more of it: "No, I'm not all right, sah. I've seen death!" Love, sparked by an attractive female hare, is more important to him. Meanwhile, at the Abbey, excavations lead to a treasure hunt, like the one found in Lutra though not as integral to the plot. These familiar story lines are seasoned with a few other new characters and groups of animals, notably a wandering female squirrel (who, unfortunately, survives only halfway through). The Painted Ones and the Waterhogs, based on what appear to be popular perceptions of African tribesmen and Native American warriors, also make guest appearances. And of course, there is the familiar roster of animal types‘royal badgers, officer-class hares, greedy but cowardly rats and the country bumpkin moles, who can always be relied upon for a funny "gem of mole logic." The formula, in other words, still works, and the narrative, as usual, is tightly plotted and‘except for the difficult-to-decipher dialects and lengthy descriptions of food‘briskly paced. A feast for the faithful. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)
Gr 6-8‘In this latest "Redwall" entry, Tammo, a young hare, becomes a member of a contingent of fighting forest folk who seek to defend the imperiled Redwall Abbey, led by the badger Lady Cregga Rose Eyes. Tammo and his comrades do battle against the Rapscallion foe, whose leader is the evil greatrat, Damug Warfang. Eventually the forces of good meet and clash with their evil enemies in a battle of legendary proportions. Good triumphs, of course, but not before several noble warriors have met their deaths. There is a tremendous amount of violence in this book. The characters maintain some of their animal characteristics, but it is their human qualities that make them either appealing or repugnant. The bad Rapscallions are thoroughly dishonest, traitorous, and cruel. The badgers, mice, hedgehogs, moles, and other assorted creatures that represent goodness may have foibles but they are unremittingly kind and generous. Pen-and-ink thumbnail sketches appear at the head of each chapter and strongly communicate the sense of drama. Some of the creatures, most notably the laboring class of moles, speak in an impossible, jaw-breaking dialect that may slow some readers down a bit; nevertheless, this is a worthy addition to a series that has found a definite niche among fantasy lovers. It breaks no new ground, but it is a satisfying adventure with a comforting, predictable conclusion. Its closing lines pave the way for yet another sequel.‘Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Jacques reads his own fanciful story about an adolescent hare who wishes to join the Long Patrol, a militant band of hare soldiers who strive against the evil rat Rapscallion. With complex names, such as Tamello De Formelo Tussock, and unusual animal characters, Jacques tells a story of battle, friendship, and leadership. This imaginative story will appeal principally to those who like animal personages in adult fairy tales. While Jacques's solid male voice gives variety and individuality to his characters' voices, he is not always easily understood. As the narrator, his broad Lancashire accent predominates. Overall, it does not make for easy listening. To follow the story and understand the text requires very active listening. Unfortunately, most audiences will tire of the effort.‘Carolyn Alexander, Brigadoon Lib., Salinas, CA
Praise for the Redwall series
"Brian Jacques has the true fantasy writer's ability to create a wholly new and believable world." -School Library Journal "The medieval world of Redwall Abbey--where gallant mouse warriors triumph over evil invaders--has truly become the stuff of legend." -Seattle Post-Intelligencer "A grand adventure story. Once the reader is hooked, there is no peace until the final page." -Chicago Sun-Times "Jacques's effortless, fast-paced narrative gets its readers quickly hooked. He clearly loves this other world he has created--there's a genius sense of involvement and care (lots of lovingly descriptive passages), as well as an overflowing, driving imagination." -Birmingham Post "Redwall is both an incredible and ingratiating place, one to which readers will doubtless cheerfully return." -New York Times Book Review "An excellent adventure with an enlightened conscience. Brilliantly complex. With vibrant and distinct animal characters, Jacques's classically inspired plot-weaving achieves virtuosity." -Publishers Weekly "Only a churl would reject this morality play in fur." -Kirkus Reviews "Filled with the kind of vibrant storytelling that fans of Jacques have come to expect. His dialogue is lively and delightful to read aloud...so rich in detail that the sights and sounds and smells of the adventure pull the reader in." -Grand Rapids Press (MI) "A richly imagined world in which bloody battles vie for attention with copious feasting and tender romancing. Where males and females are heroes and warriors. Where the young triumph and the old endure. Where intelligence is as valued as strength and wit is frequently more important than size...[Jacques] continues to surprise and delight with intriguing plots and fresh faces." -Cincinnati Enquirer "The Knights of the Round Table with paws." -The Sunday Times (London)