This is possibly my favorite Redwall book. I really enjoyed it the first time I read it, and after rereading it, it holds up better than most of the others from the series. It deviates from the others a bit, as Martin the Warrior II and his crew travel beyond the boundaries of standard Redwall territory and sail to the tropical island of Sampetra to rescue the Abbott, who has been kidnapped by the island's leader, Emperor Ublaz, a pine marten with hypnotic eyes and an army of lizards. The Abbott is being held for ransom, and the ransom is a collection of pearls hidden throughout Redwall Abbey-the Pearls of Lutra. Tansy the hedgehog maid and her friends must solve riddles to find the pearls.
Meanwhile, the otter whose family originally owned the pearls is seeking revenge against Ublaz, whose minions slew her family. On Sampetra, Ublaz is facing a revolt led by a knife-throwing fox who intends to dethrone the pine marten.
I liked the nautical nature of this book, and the fact that we follow Redwallers into new territory. All of the plots and subplots were interesting and I cared about all of them, which is not always the case with Redwall. The characters were stronger than most of the characters from previous Redwall books, and a main character is a hedgehog, which is rare. And I like hedgehogs. And we finally have semi-competent bad guys, vermin that are not pure evil, and "Mad Eyes" was one of the better archvillains. We are also introduced to seals and monitor lizards, both of which were previously unseen.
Overall, it was a very good book, but it is not exempt from the typical flaws found in Redwall books. I give four stars to what is definately one of Jacques' best.