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