So Brian Jacques died. He was a cool old man who wrote the Redwall series, a highly popular series of children/young adult books about mice and other ‘good spectrum’ creatures living in an Abbey in the middle of the forest and fighting off rats and stoats and the like. It’s pretty good. The first story, Redwall, was one of the best memories of my childhood, as the story and characters spread out like a legendary feast (which he describes in such meticulous detail) for me to gobble up and then appreciate. Sadly, as he moved on in life, the quality decreased. The first thirteen or so, are pretty good. Who can forget the sociopathy of Swartt Sixclaw, the confusion of the Otter Taggerrung, who was raised as an evil vermin or Martin’s epic life?
But the Sable Quean, while it has all the trimmings, a villain, plot and characters, cannot measure up to the first books, from Redwall to Taggerrung. It’s as if time had worn away a little of Brian Jacques skill, but none of his imagination. All characters interact as if in a pantomime, and none of the mystical spirit of Martin or other such characters are anywhere to be found. Interestingly, there are only one or two mice at Redwall Abbey, when it used to be a majority of them.
Villain-wise, we have Zwilt the shade and Quean Vilaya. Both of whom act like villainous Vermin and nothing else. Cluny was a god of war. The Marlfoxes betrayed each other at a greater rapidity than any Game of Throne’s intrigue, yet Zwilt and Viliya’s rivalry was hollow, and done more to have it than any thing else. He forgot how to manage the ambition of his own characters. Rather than have Zwilt or Vilaya properly interact, or even combine them into one character, he lets them bounce off each other like gak, caught up in strange and useless word fencing, that may have sound good in his head, but could not measure up to the strange fatherly love/hate Ferahgo had for his own Son, or for the bickering of Badrang the Tyrant and Truman Clogg.
Redwall itself seems decayed. Like life is slowly going out of it, and even Martin, the guardian spirit seems lazy, giving out the answer and hoping they would know what it meant. They didn’t, as they’ve lost the spark that both wrote and solved thousand season old riddles.
Ah well. Likely, this is the entropy that affects all. Eventually, the words won’t flow so clearly and creativity dies a bit. Old age suffers no survivors. Redwall still deserves a place in my library, it’s just I don’t desire to read any of the new ones. Read Redwall, the first book, and Mossflower and Mattimeo after that, then see how you are. I recommend most of the books, but not any later than Taggerrung. The magic is left the series, and damn, that’s a sad thing to say.