Book Review (s) – Brian Jacques: Mariel of Redwall/Salamandastron

Hello everyone! If you saw my to-read post earlier this month you will know that I had these two lined up. I read and re-read these many times over my childhood and early teenage years, so these aren’t full reviews – more like quick refreshers! If you are new to the Redwall series then I highly recommend you give it a go – no matter what age you are. However, BE WARNED, during these re-reads I had a watch of the animated television series which I apparently missed whilst growing up. And it was pretty naff, the illustrations on the covers of these books are far more suited to these stories then cartoons – however that’s just my opinion. Let me know if you have read or watched this series!

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Mariel of Redwall – Brian Jacques

This book is the fourth in the Redwall series and has always been one of my favourites because of its feisty female protagonist. Mariel is a young mouse, and whilst travelling with her father Joseph the Bellmaker to deliver a bell he has made to the badger lord at Salamanastron their ship is captured by Gabool the Wild – a pirate searat. He makes them his slaves, and places the bell in his castle. However Mariel upsets him and he ties her to a stake before throwing her  into the sea She washes ashore barely alive, with no memory of who she is. Fighting seabirds with a knotted rope she christens herself Storm Gullwhacker. Storm is found by three hares of the Long Patrol from Salamandastron who decide to escort her to Redwall Abbey – a place of safety.  It is here she makes new friends – a young hedgehog called Durry Quinn, Dandin a young mouse, and Tarquin a hare of prodigious appetite who is madly in love with Rosemary of the Long Patrol. An old riddle read by the gatekeeper of the Abbey unlocks Storm’s memories, and with only the riddle as a guide the new friends set off to avenge Storm and her father. However in their absence the Abbey comes under threat from searats who have deserted Gabool’s horde, and the peaceful Abbey creatures are hard pressed to defend themselves…

That was quite the synopsis ey?! I’m impressed with myself; I always find them hard to do. Anyway, this book was a cracker. The riddle from Redwall that ties the whole adventure together is intriguing, and definitely fun to try and puzzle out. What makes the book though are the hilarious characters – Mariel is so feisty and fierce, but grows up throughout the story. I think my favourite characters are the hares Tarquin and his lady love the Honourable Rosemary (Rosie). Rosie’s earsplitting laugh ruins secretive plans on more than one occasion and Tarquin constantly composes ditties about his two loves – Rosie and food.

Salamandastron – Brian Jacques

Fifth in the Redwall series this book tells the reader more about the badger lords who rule Salamandastron and their links with the Abbey. Mara a badgermaid, adopted by Urthstripe the ruling badger lord, is disgruntled at how Urthstripe treats her and along with her hare friend Pikkle leaves Salamandastron. Naively she becomes friends with a young weasel – who is the son of the leader of a great army of searats and vermin named the ‘Corpsemakers’. This army plan to trap the young pair, however the plan is foiled and Mara and Pikkle escape – only to be captured by a ferocious tribe of newts. Using the information gleaned from Mara and Pikkle the vermin horde begin to lay siege to Salamandastron. Whilst this is going on back at Redwall Abbey a young squirrel named Samkin and his mole friend Arula find themselves in trouble. Two stoats are preying on the hospitality of the Abbey folk and, after accidentally killing a member of the Abbey, flee with the famous sword of Martin the warrior. Framed for the death Samkin and Arula set off after the stoats, determined to prove their innocence and retrieve the sword. Another quest is underway as back at the Abbey Dryditch fever takes hold, and it is up to the otter Thrugg and a stowaway baby dormouse Dumble to bring back the cure from the distant mountains.

These three stories converge, and make for a great adventure! I really do love both of these books, and I think they make a great introduction into a fantasy world for children. They are filled with the most amazing descriptions of food – the Redwall feasts are legendary. And the different types of animal speak in various dialects – the hares are all ‘top notch old chap, I say! Wot’ wot’!’ whereas the moles speech is more rural. I have to admit, I did catch myself lying in bed acting out the different voices to a non-existent audience!

Did any of you read the Redwall books when you were younger? Have you been tempted to revisit them? For me the experience was just as enjoyable a good ten years after first reading them.

Becqui

 

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