Monday, August 29, 2016

The Bellmaker - Brian Jacques

Summary: It has been four seasons since Mariel, the warrior-mouse daughter of Joseph the Bellmaker, and her companion, Dandin, set off from Redwall to fight evil in Mossflower.  Nothing has been heard of them since.  Then one night, in a dream, the legendary Martin the Warrior comes to the Bellmaker with a mysterious message.  Clearly, Mariel and Dandin are in grave danger.  Joseph and four Redwallers set off at once to aid them.  As they push over land and sea, they cannot know the terrible threats they face.  Will the Bellmaker and his companions arrive in time to help Mariel and Dandin? (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: I'm on a Redwall kick again (it never really goes away, honestly), and I'm working my way through the Redwall series, as I've only read just over half (and re-read several I love--see the struggle?  I just finished reading 'Taggerung' for the third time, but it's hard to write reviews on your most favorite books so I gave up).

I loved 'The Bellmaker.'  I love the way Brian Jacques weaves the world and adventures of these anthropomorphic animals, the villains and heroes and songs and fun.  Not to mention food.  I get hungry every time I read a Redwall book, because he describes the feasts in a way that makes my mouth start watering.

'The Bellmaker' was a fun adventure, a father out to find his adventuring, warrior daughter.  I loved the characters they meet along the way, the always loyal gousim of shrews, the adventuring sea otter Finnabar, the lost children making their own way.  Jacques has such great characters that embody all that is good or evil, that are bold and adventurous or quiet and timid.  Everyone, not just the warriors, has the opportunity to be a hero, the blind characters, the mute ones, the simple, the fearful, the overlooked.  The most wicked will always be brought to justice, and even the strongest of the characters are not afraid to show tears, which I love. 

The thing that I loved most about this book was the good rat.  Yes! A good rat!  If you're not familiar with the Redwall series, Jacques has simplified the world down to good and wicked animals, generally speaking.  Otters, mice, hedgehogs, squirrels, badgers, hares and the like are always 'good.'  While rats, stoats, ferrets, foxes and the like are always 'wicked.'  He's deviated a few times, but I particularly loved the deviation in this book, when the searat Blaggut comes to be friends with those at Redwall Abbey in his charmingly simple and sweet manner.  It was a nice change, and one that made me smile and feel all toasty inside.

You don't particularly have to read these books in any order, as they are all separate adventures, though I would suggest at least starting with the original, 'Redwall,' to get a basis.  Otherwise, I've just been looting the shelf when the fancy strikes me.

The world of Redwall is a encouraging one, yet not without its losses and feelings--it stretches across the gamut of emotions.  But it's always comforting when the invitation comes at the end of nearly all these books for any with a good heart to come to Redwall Abbey.

I miss Brian Jacques, as he passed several years ago.  I would watch the Redwall TV show as a kid and loved his bits at the end, where he'd come on with his wonderful English brogue and tell us about his unique and charming world.  Thing is, you forget he's gone when you pick up these books, because he's there telling you the story, and that's just so magical to me.

My Rating: Four Stars
 
For the sensitive reader
: Contains many skirmishes and battles that involve swordplay, violence, and death (including main characters).  Nothing too graphic or gruesome--Jacques' has a delicate way of playing out these events.

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