Matt's Reviews > Mossflower

Mossflower by Brian Jacques
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's review
Apr 29, 11

bookshelves: fantasy, young-adult
Read from April 08 to 28, 2011

(This review and many others are cross-posted to my science fiction blog, Android Dreamer.)

Mossflower is the second book in Brian Jacques' beloved Redwall series, and the first prequel to the original Jacques wrote. It is set immediately preceding the founding of Redwall, the titular abbey where many of the good creatures of the woods would call home at the time of the novel of the same name. It follows Martin the Warrior, a figure of legend during the events of Redwall, as he teams up with other people of the woods to remove the dictatorial cat Tsarmina from power, in the hopes of giving freedom to all of the people of Mossflower (the name of the region).

The most immediately noticeable aspect of this book is that Jacques' writing quality is significantly better than in his first book. In the earlier work, there were times when the prose was a bit weak, and it was definitely noticeable. This has been fixed in Mossflower, as Jacques' writing quality went from amateurish to actually above average. Whereas Redwall was a more straight forward story that generally only focused on two sides of the same story (Cluny the Scourge, a bilge rat, attacking Redwall, and the creatures of the abbey itself, planning its defense), in Mossflower he weaves many arcs and lines of the overall story to create a much more developed narrative.

With all its improvements, there are still weaker points of the book. It starts out very well, but around the middle starts to get muddled, as if Jacques was trying to juggle too much at a time. There is so much going on in the various aspects of the story that it gets a bit rough to follow. He changes the perspective of story far too often; you may be following one group for only two paragraphs at a time before it switches to another group entirely, and I think the book would have benefited greatly from editing so that each group gets a few pages or a chapter at a time, rather than just a few paragraphs. The first and last thirds of the novel are quite excellent, however, it just suffers from a bit of a second act lull.

In the end, I think Mossflower is better than its predecessor. The maturity of Jacques writing is good to see, and bodes well for the other installments in the series. There are still areas to improve, but Mossflower was just as enjoyable and charming as its predecessor, but even better written.
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