Marlfox by Brian Jacques
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was recently weeding books and pulled out Marlfox, because it's in bad shape and needs to be replaced. I decided to read it, because I remember one of my students recently mention that this was his favorite book in the Redwall series. I'm so glad I did.
Legend has it that marlfoxes possess magical powers and can appear and disappear at will. When several marlfoxes are spotted in Mossflower wood, the various creatures take it upon themselves to go and warn everyone at Redwall Abbey. The marlfoxes and their crew of water rats attack the Abbey and succeed in stealing the most valuable item in the Abbey -- the tapestry of Martin the Warrior. Song and Dann (both squirrels) and Dippler, a shrew, are told in a dream by Martin the Warrior that they have been given the task to find the tapestry and bring it home. Along the way the trio meet new friends, battle fierce enemies, and are met with a surprise or two. Ultimately, they must battle the marlfox and rats on their home turf -- the island at the center of the Hidden Lake.
I've been a fan of Brian Jacques ever since I was given his first two Redwall books in the early 90s. I remember when I heard him speak one time he mentioned how he wrote these books as a type of radio play for students at a school for the blind. That's why all the different animals have such distinctive dialects. I'm glad I knew that -- it made me more appreciative of the style of these stories. I know that at times, it can be difficult reading what's being said but you only have to listen to one of the full cast productions of Redwall books to know why it's perfect!
Now, to Marlfox.. I'm not sure why I liked it so much. On the surface, it seems to have the same characteristics as the other stories. Creatures of the Abbey going on a quest, sent by the warrior Martin, facing dangers and learning one's own strengths, etc. I guess one of the things that most attracted me to this one was Song. She's really the leader of the trio from Redwall. She's the one figuring out the riddle to guide their way. She's the one making the decisions on going, staying, etc. Although Dann is the one with Martin's sword, he's not the one doing the crazy heroic acts all the time. I love that the girl is strong and courageous, and the others accept her that way.
There's plenty of exciting battles in Marlfox to attract those fans of action/adventure stories. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a thrilling story about friends on a quest. Even if you haven't read other Redwall stories, you could jump right in and be just fine. Wonderful story! I give it an A!