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.
Dishing out neither surprises nor disappointments, Jacques's latest Redwall installment (after The Bellmaker) is likely to satisfy his considerable fans even if it doesn't win him any converts. This lengthy story rumbles into life when Sunflash, a badger, prisoner of the cruel ferret Swartt Sixclaw, escapes and swears revenge. Sunflash is destined to get not only his revenge but much else besides, for he is a Badger Lord, fated to rule the mountain Salamandastron. Drawn there by dreams, after an epic journey he takes command of the resident regiments of fighting hares and various serving beasts, and soon defends the mountain from a horde raised by Swartt. Though strongly plotted and spiced with a variety of secondary characters, Jacques's new concoction, like the vegetarian feasts he describes often and in detail, will not appeal to all tastes: the repasts are not the only parts of the story that go on too long, and the characteristics of all the animals in the story are fixed by their species. Moles, for example, are all rural bumpkins, with a "quaint mole dialect" that requires some study. Such ingredients, of course, may be just what makes the Redwall recipe so consistently popular. Ages 8-up. (Feb.)
Gr 4 Up‘Another surefire hit for "Redwall" fans. The bulk of this story concerns an orphan badger named Sunflash the Mace who, with his buddy Skarlath the kestrel, rights the wrongs of the world. He eventually becomes Badger Lord of Salamandastron, which is populated by very English Public School hares. The bad guys in this story are ferret Swartt Sixclaw and Nightshade the vixen. They spend most of the book poisoning other bad guys and looking for a chance to even an old score with Sunflash. One last ferret of note is Swartt's son Veil, who is raised at Redwall Abbey by Briony the mouse. He spends his time in the literary limelight being a sociopath only a (foster) mother could love. Briony's faith in him eventually doing good remains unshakable, even after he is caught thieving and murdering. Besides strong plotting and good writing, there are two constants in this series: food and distinct accents for each group of animals. This title is no different. Though faithful readers should have a good idea by now what deeper'n'ever pie, dandelion and burdock cordial, and oatfarls taste like, talking about food is always a nice break from mourning the death of good friends who have fallen in battle. While the accents may pose problems for some, the hurdle is not insurmountable, and the characters are strong enough to engage even the most indifferent reader.‘Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA
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)