Sunday, June 19, 2011

“Eulalia!” by Brian Jacques

Eulalia, the battle cry of the Badgers of Salamandastron is rather appropriate for this story. There are six badgers involved.

Two drop out early, they’re old farmers who drop out after their farm is attacked by sea rats. Gorath, the farmer’s grandson, has been taught by his grandfather to use the berserk rage of the Bloodwrath to do the really heavy farming work. Lord Asheye of Salamandastron is blind from wounds suffered while under the Bloodwrath and is waiting for his successor. Taboura is a wise old badger with a tremendous knowledge of herbs and the world. Taboura’s adoptive daughter, Salixa, travels with him.

Then there are the non-badger characters. Orkwil Prink, a hedgehog thief that eventually returns what he steals from people he likes. Mad Maudie, a champion boxing hare, cook with strong and particular views, that is nearly drummed out of the regiment of the Salamandastron fighting hares. These are joined by Rangval, the squirrel, a bunch of otters, the Guosim, and the inhabitants of Redwall Abbey.

There are two villains in this story. Gruntan Kurdley is the master of a brown rat horde. He sees the Guosim, with Mad Maudie, as they travel to Redwall. He demands that his horde capture the log boats of the Guosim. This demand gets modified to a demand to take Redwall and slay a badger. This demand is balanced against the demand that he be constantly supplied with hard boiled eggs.

The other villain is Vizka Longtooth. He is the captain of the searats that pillage Gorath’s grandparents farm. He tries to turn Gorath into a fighting machine as he leads his crew to attack Redwall.

Like most Redwall novels this one has strongly drawn characters, fast paced narrative with lots of action, a clear separation between the good guys and the bad guys, and feasts. Overall this is a solid and enjoyable book, though the good guys are mostly much less heroic than most of the other Redwall tales.

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