Lauren's Reviews > Salamandastron

Salamandastron by Brian Jacques
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Jul 15, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: physically-own, kindle, redwall, favorite-fantasy

The fifth Redwall novel, Salamandastron is the story of a badger maid, a blue-eyed ferret, and a plague at Redwall. Mara is a young badger maid who escapes her home, Salamandastron, and her overbearing adoptive father. As Mara begins her quest throughout Mossflower country, meeting up with Guosssom shrews and members from Redwall, Salamandastron falls under attack by a disarming, ruthless blue-eyed ferret. Meanwhile, a young squirrel named Samkim leaves Redwall in pursuit of the sword of Martin the Warrior. Giving us our first clear look at Salamandastron and the Long Patrol, Salamandastron expands the world of the Redwall novels yet again. The adventures and battles manage to be both realistic and exciting, and the strong-willed characters are compelling and show a lot of growth within the course of the book. While not particularly outstanding, this is one of the better and perhaps more famous Redwall novels and I recommend it and enjoy rereading it.

Salamandastron features some of my favorite characters and one of my favorite battle sequences. Mara and Samkim are both young and immature when the story begins. When they leave their homes on quests, both mature, learn, and eventually prove themselves to themselves, others, and even to Martin the Warrior, who's guiding influence is still felt in Mossflower. As a result, this book makes for a unique yet realistic coming of age story, with interest characters that the reader can identify with and aspire toward. The battle at the end of the book is one of Jacques' best: both terrifying and exciting, both horrible and exultant, he captures the dual nature of war, battle, death, and what it is that drives creatures to fight. Jacques also refuses to shy away from character death, a decision that I applaud. It makes for a darker, more difficult and mature novel, but it also makes the story more meaningful and realistic.

The actual events of Mara and Samkim's journeys don't stand out to me, and as a whole this isn't the most memorable Redwall novel. Unlike Mossflower, compelling secondary characters are lacking (although the hares of the Long Patrol are wonderful); the journeys aren't particularly vast or exciting. The majority of the exciting chases and perilous climbs are delegated to the Redwall side story and are thus less interesting or heart-stopping than they could be. The Guosssom shrews made good companions, but beyond that the bulk of this book doesn't stand out as either amusing, exciting, or compelling. Only near the end, when the pieces come together and Mara and Samkim meet, does the book really start to get good.

It is, however, by no means bad. Jacques is a solid writer, and while some of his constant themes (adventurers, food, riddles, new peoples) are a bit toned down here, his characters are interesting and he writes a strong plot and brings it to a well-rounded, attention-grabbing conclusion. The book also serves to peek our interest in Salamandastron itself, providing enough insight to interest the reader and enough story to make him want to know more. I do recommend this book, although there are other Redwall novels that I enjoy more, and I like coming back to and rereading this one.
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