Go back to cat-hell Fritti Tailchaser. Run back to Redwall little mice.
I really didn't think I'd find something that would even come close to rivaling Richard Adam's Watership Down, but here it is. For one, Wangerin Jr. has excellent character development. Chauntecleer, the Wee Widow Mouse, Pertelote, Mundo Cani Dog, John Wesley Weasel--you'll come to readily recognize and love all of these characters.
But what I liked most about this book was the fact that it had more fantasy in it than similar books like Tailchaser's Song, Redwall, and even Watership Down. There's the evil Wyrm within the earth. When I read about Wyrm, I instantly thought about Uroboros, the World Serpent. I read about Cockatrice, an evil amalgamation of rooster and serpent--and thought about the twisted animals described in the book of Revelation.
When I read good fantasy novels I feel like I'm watching a movie. As is usually the case, certain scenes I read become especially vivid. One such scene that I remember dealt with Cockatrice sitting atop his Terebinth Oak, while beneath him were several thousand eggs, waiting to hatch forth serpents. It made me think of the movie Aliens for a second. Another interesting scene in the book was where Chauntecleer and Pertelote are walking through a battlefield--at night--and they stumble across a dead deer.
Unlike some fantasy novels I've read, the last battle in this book is very satisfying. Let's just say that Wyrm makes the Sandworms of Dune small in comparison. Another thing that I like about this book is that good guys do die and DON'T come back. I'm sorry, but I hate books where the good guys come out unscathed. This book is very original and refreshing, full of stuff to spark your imagination.