Sunday, January 1, 2012

Winter Reviews: Mattimeo by Brian Jacques

I listened to this audio book several months ago and never reviewed it for some reason. Now don't get me wrong: I love Brian Jacques' writing style. His descriptions are beautiful. Apparently he once wrote for blind children. But the story lines, while good individually, are starting to get formulaic, as my friend Elijah would say. I think a bit of formula is OK, but this (the third book, after Redwall and Mossflower) is starting to push it. If you read my post about the original novel, you'll see that I gave it an "A" - a grade that still stands. The prequel, Mossflower, got a "B" due to a repeated formula.

Now this one, which takes place a couple years (eight seasons, as they say in the book) after the first one. Redwall Abbey has had that amount of time filled with peace and happiness, when a fox and his band of rats and weasels and such approach the castle and are allowed in to perform circus tricks. They drug their hosts and kidnap several young, including Mattimeo, the son of the abbey's champion warrior Matthias - the main character of book one and, actually, the main character of this one as well. The fox, Slagar the Cruel (pronounced "Croo-elle" by the awesome and rather scary voice actor), turns out to be none other than Chickenhound from the first book. He was not allied with Cluny (the original villain, who was a rat) - he represents another faction altogether - but I found him to be much more evil than Cluny. Cluny, while awesome, never struck me as a horrible being, more just a warlord who meant business. Maybe I'll make a different post about that rat. But the Sly One (Slagar) kidnaps and kills totally innocent creatures rather than only those who stand against him. He murders Friar Hugo (a Redwall mouse), which is a shame because Matthias had just barely saved Hugo at the end of Redwall, when Hugo was being held hostage by Cluny just  before Cluny met his end. Anyhow, this is book three I'd like to discuss.

This one had a pretty original plot, as Mossflower was sort of a recycled version of the first, but what threw me off was the riddles. I like a good riddle now and then, but it seems that every single book "just happens" to involve a riddle painfully similar to the other ones. It's been several months and now I might attempt to listen to another one (Mariel of Redwall). Each book I've read seems stand-alone enough, but still...gahh. I must say I loved Slagar, as horrid as he was (terrible creature morally, but a great villain). Horrible people (or animals) can make great characters.

One other thing gets me about this whole series, or what I've read of it: Jacques was probably not a remotely racist man, but it seems like certain creatures are labeled as vessels for good or bad: rats, foxes, and snakes are evil; mice, hares, badgers, and so forth are good. There are also some creatures who have both good and rotten members, such as wildcats, sparrows, and shrews. It doesn't seem right that every time a fox or rat approaches the abbey, he or she is patronized and ostracized.

I may sound a little fifty-fifty on this book, because I am. I enjoyed it, but I hope four is less redundant. Basil Stag Hare is still awesome. "What, what?"

Happy reading,

No comments:

Post a Comment