Tuesday, March 23, 2010

REVIEW: Mossflower by Brian Jacques

Every once in awhile I like to give my brain a break from the “heavier” reading and pick up something that is just plain fun. It’s the reason I read all the Harry Potter books and it was the reason I decided to pick up Mossflower, the second book in Brian Jacques Redwall series. The book is actually a prequel to Redwall where we met Mathias Mouse and learned of the legendary Martin the Warrior. In this installment, we are taken back to a time when Mossflower Woods and its Woodlander inhabitants are in great peril-they are ruled by a ruthless wildcat named Tsarmina-Queen of a Thousand Eyes and her minions. Tsarmina and her forces make life miserable for those living in Mossflower Woods and around the fortress of Kotir. Tsarmina will do anything to achieve her means-poisoning her father, throwing her own brother in the dungeon and waging all out warfare on the woodlanders.

The real trouble begins when the soldiers start to take all the food from the woodlanders leaving them nothing to survive on. The woodlanders flee and the Tsarmina and the soldiers wage war on them after realizing they cannot live without the labor of the woodlanders which provided them food. A young Martin the Warrior wanders into the territory by mistake and is captured by Tsarmina. While in the dungeon he meets Gonff the prince of mouse thieves who helps him escape. Martin vows to help the woodlanders defeat Tsarmina and her forces-even agreeing to go on a quest to Salamandastron Mountain to find the great Boar the Fighter who disappeared long ago and who appears to be the only hope of the Mossflower inhabitants. The plucky critters have many grand adventures along the way.

I cannot believe I enjoyed a book about talking animals so much, but then again I did like Watership Down when I read it in high school too. The books are slightly reminiscent of WD. I can’t believe I never discovered this series growing up, especially since he started writing it in the mid-80’s. The only thing I recommend if you are going to try out this series is you have to read it from the perspective of a 12 year old. What I mean is, a person around that age reads for the enjoyment of the story and doesn’t notice when problems ties themselves up neatly each and every time or that there are so many characters that you have to keep reading the series to truly get to know each one better. If you go at it from an adult perspective these things may grate but these novels are meant to be read for fun and escapism and not analytically.

What I loved most was that even though the characters weren’t well defined given that there was so much plot going on, they each had their own distinct personalities and there were several new characters to get to know as I suspect there will be in all subsequent installments. There is so much going on there is not a chance of getting bored. I can definitely see me sitting down and reading this series with my son in a couple of years.

If the FTC is wondering: This book is from my own personal library


  1. I think you're crazy just like all of my middle school kids that love this series...I can't seem to understand their language!! LOL!! I'm so glad that you're enjoying this series...I read Redwall to my boys when they were younger and we all really liked it, but I did find their world a tad complicated!!!

  2. +JMJ+

    I love the Redwall books--and I've only read two! (LOL) I guess I'm saving them for when I have an unhurried moment.

    When I picked up Mossflower for the first time, I thought to myself, "I'm sure it will be good, but it won't be as great as Redwall" . . . and when I finally put it down, I was thinking, "Amazing! It's so much better than Redwall!!!"

    I don't recall finding Brian Jacques world too complicated. There were a lot of characters, yes, but I think the fact that they were usually different species helped me remember who was who.

  3. @ Staci-my son is 5 and I am debating on hanging onto the series for him til he is old enough or getting rid of it and collecting it later. I don't even know if he will like reading (I'm hoping) but I've collected a lot of books for him in case he does :)

    @ Enbrethiliel-I was pleasantly surprised to like Mossflower better too. I'm glad I'm liking the series becuase I'm one of those people who collects the entire series before starting it so I have all 20 books!

  4. +JMJ+

    All twenty books? Oh, my! I'm quite impressed! I hope you let us know how you find the third book (Mattimeo, right?), if you plan on reading it some time soon.

  5. I started reading these in middle school but there were only 3 out then, I think. I loved them. This series was also what got my brothers interested in reading. I've been collecting them for my kids. They've got a while to grow into them, but I am sure they'll love them. We found Redwall on CD at the library and my 5 year old begged me for it, so I think we'll check it out to listen to this summer. There's an entire cast rather than just one person reading... should be good.