'This is a big work,' says the badger Lord Russano of Salamandastron about his latest historical manuscript. 'I've been two seasons now, reading through dusty old parchments, interviewing creatures for stories about their ancestors, and studying carvings in the forge. I've sat on the shore, listening to sea otters, stood beneath trees recording squirrels--huh, I've even had to crouch for four days in a mole dwelling.'
But fans of Brian Jacques' novels should be thankful that so much trouble was taken over this, the thirteenth slice of his triumphant Redwall saga. It is another gloriously chivalrous and swashbuckling adventure--recounted to the young future of the kingdom by its respected badger guardian. From the moment Russano pulls the first scroll from his pail of scripts, he has every eye and ear's attention.
He begins a story about Salamandastron from back in the mists of time, further back than even he would dare to guess. The mountain, with its leveret school, Long Patrol and laws set down for all to live in peace by, was largely down to the work of one badger--Lord Brocktree of Brockhall. Other badgers were there before him, but the mountain did not come into its own until Brocktree arrived. He inspired their wonderful life of comfort--the wonderful chambers, the outer gardens and terraces, orchards and crop-growing areas.
But his before his triumph there was struggle. Together with a scatterbrained but irrepressible haremaid called Dotti, Brocktree had to rescue Salamandastron from the threat of vermin rule at the hands of Ungatt Trunn--a vile and evil wildcat with a frighteningly dangerous army of Blue Hordes at his disposal.
The stage is set for a glorious battle, and Jacques delivers a breathtaking denouement with all of his characteristic verve and excitement. Fans will relish this book and new readers will be drawn into its pages--probably to be hooked forever. (Age 9 and over) --John McLay
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5 Up-Jacques shows no signs of flagging in this latest tale about a Badger Lord named Brocktree, a fatally beautiful haremaid named Dotti, and an evildoing wildcat named Ungatt Trunn. Trunn and his Hordebeasts have invaded Salamandastron and caused the death of Lord Stonepaw. However, from off in the forests and meadows, help is coming. The shrews, hedgehogs, moles, river and sea otters, squirrels, and a pack of Highland hares band together with Brocktree and Dotti. Trunn is eventually defeated, and the Horde quickly disperses, leaving the "Redwall" creatures to their favorite pastimes-dancing, singing, and of course, eating. Jacques continues to have an amazing gift for keeping his story fresh. He starts this one from two different points: the invasion, and the adventures of Dotti, Brocktree, and their friends. The two stories converge near the end of the book for a thrilling conclusion. The story itself is framed as a history written by the current lord of Salamandastron. The plot is well balanced, chapters of floating on a river and feasting with friends are set in counterpoint with the horrors of war. The characters, as always, are easily defined and identified by their accents, a Jacques specialty. It may take some readers a while to figure out what everyone is saying, but they will make the effort as these beasts are all so engaging. There is no need to have read the earlier books for this one to make sense, but new readers will undoubtedly be asking for more, and fans will just eat it up.Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA
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