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Joseph the Bellmaker and his daughter Mariel are out at sea when Pirate King Gabool abducts the two mice and seizes their treasure. A great bell created for the badger mountain Salamandastron. After imprisoning the mice aboard his ship, the sea rat soon tires of his captives and throws them overboard. Mariel washes up along the shore, weak but full of warrior spirit. Hungry seabirds see an easy meal, but Mariel fights her way to safety and will soon find herself traveling through Mossflower Woods, to the gates of Redwall Abbey. With the aid of the kind abbey dwellers, Mariel is able to gain back her strength. But the peaceful life is not for Mariel. Her heart is set on striking down Gabool. And so Mariel embarks on her journey to recover the bell of Salamandastron and avenge her father.
While sea rats have been mentioned in prior novels, Mariel of Redwall introduces readers to a first-hand encounter with the pirates. Seeing them in their element out at sea, readers will experience their thirst for conquest and treasure. The rats do not hesitate to capture and enslave innocent creatures. The time spent on the rats’ storylines also emphasizes their evil and willingness to backstab one another. And as the sea rats inevitably clash with Redwall Abbey, readers will be swept up in the desperate fight against foes willing to use dirty tricks to win.
Multiple storylines running parallel to the main plot are a sure find in the Redwall series. This particular writing style allows the reader to have a complete picture of all participating characters and to allow a decent chunk of world-building. My favorite of the side characters this time were the young abbey creatures also known as the dibbuns. Having grown up with tales of Martin the Warrior, they too wanted to become warriors to save their abbey. Not fully understanding the concepts of battle, they would sneak out of their beds during moments of high tension and bring humor into the story with their efforts.
And then there is Mariel who is vastly different from the peaceful creatures of Redwall Abbey. Having been taken captive by Gabool, she is made of sharp edges and is quick to strike out at any who present a threat. Watching her learn the ways of Redwall and travel with creatures from the abbey was quite the adventure. While she may not understand the way her traveling companions think, she isn’t completely closed off to learning their habits. Though the mousemaid will always have the flame of a warrior in her heart. I enjoyed seeing a main character who grew up outside of Redwall and Mariel’s reactions to each new Redwall experience.
Mariel of Redwall once again brings together the battle of good versus evil. With a hearty dose of friendship and adventure, this delightful tale would be a good starting point for readers interested in the fantasy genre.
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