Monday, November 5, 2012

Book Review: Mossflower

Mossflower, by Brian Jacques, was the book that introduced me to the Redwall world, and is still my favorite.  I was initially drawn to the paperback in my senior year of college by its lovely cover art, reminiscent of medieval illuminated manuscripts:
I bought it for the cover, and because it sounded like the kind of fantasy I loved: childlike, innocent, yet fiercely fought and with timeless themes.  And I was amazed that it followed through on the promise of the cover.  Several years ago I was able to take my children to a book-signing with Brian Jacques, where he talked about his inspirations for writing these stories... chiefly The Iliad and The Odyssey.  It's hard to go wrong with that kind of inspiration!

So there is a bit of a Redwall race/ reading challenge going on in our family.  Some of us are reading through the books in chronological order.  I've reviewed Lord Brocktree and Martin the Warrior.  Now Mossflower.  I had originally intended just to quickly review the characters, but I ended up doing a full re-read.  Martin is a returning heroic character if you've read Martin the Warrior, but he shows up in this book with no hint of the self-doubt that was explored in the prequel.  He is the heroic freedom-fighter who unites the woodlanders, oppressed by the evil Tsarmina, a wildcat who rules from the dark fortress of Kotir.  Joining Martin are Gonff the mousethief, a jolly and cheeky creature whose thievery is mostly confined to food; Lady Amber, chieftainess of the woodland squirrels; Dinny the mole; Bella of Brockhall, the wise badger lady who wishes to protect the small creatures of Mossflower wood.  Of course there are many other characters, both good and evil.  No Redwall epic tale is complete without a multitude of characters, a quest, a mysterious riddle, adorable woodland babies who must escape right under the nose of the enemy, infighting among the enemy, and at least two battles with vermin.  This story delivers all of those items and much more.  Don't forget the wonderful descriptions of the feasts!

In my opinion, this or Redwall is the best choice to introduce your children to these fantasies, preferably as a read-aloud.  Good times and good memories await.

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