Here is where I will be discussing later Redwall books and my thoughts on them. As my school library has a copy of Doomwyte, you might be able to expect a review of that in the near future ;)
Part One: Triss, 2002
Ahh, Triss. I have both sad AND happy memories of this book. The fifteenth book in the Redwall series, I first picked it up at my local library in June of 2011 and was enthralled by the characters and storyline (as I had been with previous Redwall books)
The story starts with our heroine, an enslaved squirrelmaid named Triss, who dreams of being free from the Pure Ferrets, a foolish group of greedybeasts who rule the island of Riftgard.
Eventually, Triss does flee on a stolen boat, bringing a few friends with her. The ferret Princess Kurda, enraged, sends a group of mercenary pirates led by Plugg Firetail to go after them.
We are also introduced to other characters, such as the residents of Redwall Abbey, members of the secret club Dibbuns Against Bedtime, Sagax, the headstrong son of a Badger Lord, and his hare companion, Scarum.
The story continues to move forward at a fast pace, and at one point even resurrects the location of Brockhall, which hadn’t been seen since Outcast of Redwall, written seven years before. As Triss moves forward, we also get a few strange deaths in between, such as Riftun the rat, who was struck by lightning just as he was about to throw his spear at Shogg the otter. It was pretty deux-ex-machina, but I ignored it and carried on.
Eventually Shogg (a major character) died, and I was sad, although I felt that his death didn’t quite fit for some reason. As the events mounted towards the climax though, I continued to get more and more excited to see how the story would end.
And during that climax, just as Triss was about to duel and slay Kurda…What should happen, but Kurda falling on her own sword, and dying.
I was definitely very mad. Although Kurda was a very annoying villain who was basically just a loud, spoiled brat, falling onto her own sword just seemed to me as very cheap, (and even more deux-ex-machina than Ripfang’s death) and a cop-out; as though Brian just didn’t want to write us an enthralling climax, so he said “Meh. I’ll pass.” And moved on. Although I won’t give anything away; he pulled this same trick again in the Sable Quean.
When Triss eventually did end, I felt disappointed. Overall, it was definitely a great book but now that it had wound its way to the end I felt it needed something just a little more to make it so much better. It deserved a better thought-out ending than the final product that Brian Jacques gave us.
Although by no means the best in the series, and has a blatantly weak ending, if you’re a big fan of classic Redwall, then you should like it just fine.
Part Two: High Rhulain, 2005
Out of all the newer books in the series, I think High Rhulain is probably the best. I liked it because it offered new, major locations for once and put a variant on the rapidly-formulizing storyline. While Riggu Felis wasn't the best villain ever (he was pretty incompetent) and I didn't like him a whole lot; I know I cared about Tiria and the whole plot about Green Isle. Character development seemed more of an important deal that it had, and overall High Rhulain was definitely a standout of what had by then become a repetitive series
This section is shorter than the others because I just have less to say about High Rhulain ;)
Part Three: Eulalia, 2007
In the spring of 2011 I checked a hardcover copy of Eulalia out of the public library. I was certainly excited to see what the story had to offer, and was eager to give it a read.
The story begins as a group of vermin corsairs set sail towards a small island in the northern seas. The island is desolate, and lacking in gold and treasure. Its only inhabitants are a strong young badger named Gorath, who lives with his grandparents on their farm.
Gorath’s parents died when he was a baby, and so his grandparents adopted him in hopes of giving him a better life. The three badgers accidentally ended up in the cold northern isles and soon began a life of hard, slow work.
When the vermin sea Raiders come onto the scene, they are led by a charismatic but decidedly rash fox, Vizka Longtooth, and his less-intelligent brother Codj. Vizka traverses the island and soon discovers Gorath’s family home.
He searches the house for any valuables, but kills Gorath’s grandparents, finding none. Vizka attempts to kill Gorath himself by smashing him over the head with a steel flail, but the young badger manages to survive, although it leaves him with a hideous scab on his forehead.
As the Sea Raiders continue to hunt for treasure, Vizka makes various attempts to befriend Gorath and convert him to the vermin way of living. Gorath refuses each time, eventually escaping his prison with the help of a young hedgehog named Orkwill Prink, a mischevious pickpocket who was exiled from Redwall Abbey for his deeds, but not before Gorath quietly slays Codj.
Visiting Redwall to be treated for his wounds, Gorath meets Mad Maudie, a boisterous haremaid sent by the aging badger lord Asheye to find him (as he was chosen by destiny in a strange prophecy)
After Gorath recovers, Maudie, Orkwil and Gorath team up with the Guosim and look for the Sea Raiders. Along the way they meet up with Rangval, a reclusive squirrel who lives alone.
Then, we are introduced to a not-so-intelligent tribe of vermin called the Brownrats, and their hideously fat leader, the arrogant but thickheaded Gruntan Kurdly.
After some more conflict, the Raiders and brownrats eventually join forces against our heroes and the Guosim. There is a final battle; and Gorath slays Vizka in a duel.
He is declared the new Lord of Salamandastron, marries, and has a young daughter named Rowanbloom who writes the Epilogue.
All in all, Eulalia didn’t do a lot for me. The story was flat, and repetitive, the characters did nothing for me (least of all Gorath) and overall it was not my favorite title in the Redwall series; but thankfully there are other installments in it that I thoroughly enjoy.
Part Four: The Sable Quean, 2010
The Sable Quean is an almost painful book for me to read, so bittersweet do I find it. I first got my Philomel hardcover in October of 2010, while Borders was closing down and pretty much every book in the store was marked at half price or less.
There were barely any Redwall books by the time I got there, and the only one of them that I hadn’t read was the Sable Quean.
Intrigued, I decided to buy it and give it a read, and here is what I found.
The story starts with our hero, a young Salamandastron hare named Buckler, long for adventure outside the mountain where he’s grown up. Eventually, he’s sent out with his best friend Diggs to deliver some new bellropes for the Abbey of Redwall.
Meanwhile, in other parts of Mossflower, a sable known as Zwilt the Shade has been stealing young ones for his very lazy, arrogant and incompetent leader, Vilaya, the Sable Quean of the title.
Her plan is to force the Redwallers to give up their abbey by holding their children against them, although it is never explicitly stated what will happen to the youngbeasts if their parents/guardians do not comply.
I noticed as the Sable Quean moved forward, it began to deteriorate significantly and that saddened me. It started out as a good read with a lot of potential, and just began to fade and break down into a book that was a tiny bit worse than just okay.
Zwilt overall made a much better main villain than Vilaya. He was good with a sword (a much better weapon than a puny little dagger at any rate), took charge of his beasts, and actually TRIED to get what he wanted. Vilaya on the other hand, was his opposite.
We don’t know where she’s from, why she’s evil or even why she LIKES being evil, and indeed Vilaya can’t be called the main villain at all because
1. She’s barely in a couple scenes 2. She never did anything outstandingly evil throughout the book.
Also; if Vilaya REALLY wanted to take Redwall she could at least to have tried to do so herself. But nope. All she seemed to want to do was sit around and think up plans that she never even acted on anyway; and just bragged about how supposedly evil she was but never actually displayed her malevolence outright.
In conclusion, Vilaya was not a true villain. Just a lazy creature who wanted to make herself seem powerful when she was not. As for the book; it started out good but the ending felt like it was written by someone else.
The Sable Quean was a disappointing novel, and by all means not one of Brian Jacques’ best works.
Part Five: the Rogue Crew, 2011
The Rogue Crew was a very major letdown; probably on the same level as the Sable Quean. It was all I thought about following Brian’s death, and as the last book, I assumed it would have to be good. Instead, I was presented with the same old storyline, an odd character (a FEMALE friar!) and other such miscellaneous atrocities. (For some reason I get the Wiltud and Gurdy families mixed up even though they’re not even the same species) I hated Razzid Wearet because, he had a very big ego, and was basically a mashup of some other earlier villains. Although for once I couldn’t tell who the main character was (I had no real idea if it was supposed to be Rake or Uggo)
I definitely cared about both the aforementioned characters (especially Uggo) but felt like Posy needed some more development. The scenes on the Greenshroud struck me as off, and a bit phoned-in, and not very well written and I disliked that. On the subject of Salamandastron, I sort of liked Violet, especially as we hadn’t had a badger Lady in a while, but she struck me as being pretty motherly and I imagined most (if not all) female badger rulers were warlike and aggressive (ie, Cregga)
As for the actual Rogue Crew, they could have been pretty awesome if not for the fact that they were a lot more racist (or in this case; species-ist ) than most Redwall characters; exactly like Flib and Jango in the Sable Quean. And because of this I disliked Skor and Ruggan, but thought Swiffo was okay (although I DO want to know who their mother was, especially if she was dead for some reason, or simply not around) When Swiffo DID die, the whole incident struck me as being very spontaneous and odd.
And I also think Ruggan was a little too passionate about the whole matter; like he was almost happy that his brother died just so he could use it as an excuse to go hunt some ‘vermin’ As for the various new tribes/groups introduced in this book, I can’t say much about them other than that they were interesting and I liked what we got to hear about them during the page time that they got.
And when the time finally came for dear old Razzid to kick the bucket, yep, I was a pretty happy camper. But if you ask me, his death flat out didn’t make much sense. I don’t think someone would just die after being impaled with a sword and THEN hit on the head with a piece of wood. If anything, it’d be the other way around. I also think Razzid’s demise happened the way it did because Jum Gurdy just wasn’t patient enough to let him bleed to death.
When you get down to the ending....There's not a lot I could do to sum it up. What CAN I say about it? It's pretty much exactly the same as all the other letter-epilogues, really.
Lady Violet writes a diary entry about what's been going on since the end of the story, and it's pretty formulaic, as usual.
In a letter from Abbot Thibb, we learn that everyone at Redwall is just fine and dandy, and are all looking forward to a formal visit from the Long Patrol and/or Skor and his Rogue Crew. And that’s the end. Not just of the book, but of the ENTIRE SERIES; and as an ending, saying that it was lacking would be speaking nicely. The Rogue Crew did nothing new for me as a fan and reader, and I was immensely disappointed because of that.
Although I should have learned not to expect much from a series that had severely declined ever since its fifteenth book, I just didn’t want to believe that because yep, I’m that much of an optimist in the literary department. In the end, the Rogue Crew did absolutely nothing to connect the new books with the old (and yet I’m still surprised) or characters, or setting.
You could have changed the order of the final book from the Rogue Crew to say, Loamhedge, and there wouldn’t have been much of a difference because still, nothing is connected and the newer books have just been that similar.
While there’s some evidence out there that Brian planned to write at least one more book in the series, that’s not definite; and if there were a next book I’m sure it would have had the exact same plot and outcome as the Rogue Crew anyway, so this book was as good a place to end as any, I suppose.
If you’re a literary optimist such as myself, the Rogue Crew probably isn’t your book, since it just takes all of everything you wanted, blatantly crushes it, and then slaps you in the face with it.
With all due respect to Mr. Brian Jacques; yes the Rogue Crew did have some potential and I honor it for what it did, but as an author you were probably nearing the twilight of your Redwall days, and perhaps it would just have been best for everyone if Triss had been the final volume.