Mattimeo by Brian Jacques | Book Review
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Mattimeo may be the son of Matthias the hero, but he is still a young mouse who tests the rules of Redwall Abbey. When he strikes out at a guest of the Abbey his fellow Redwallers are taken aback. Despite Mattimeo only doing so to defend his family’s honor. At times the animals of Redwall Abbey are too forgiving and trusting. When a traveling band of creatures appears on their doorstep, they allow the group within their walls. Little do they know, the fox Slagar has his eyes on Mattimeo. As soon as the chance arises, Slagar kidnaps Mattimeo and his friends, whisking them off to be sold as slaves.
With every Redwall book, there is a balance of good and evil. The creatures of the abbey are the epitome of good natured and wholesome folk. Though some may have mischievous tendencies, they genuinely care for one another. The lengths to which they will go to rescue their own are admirable. And on the opposing side, Brian Jacques creates such cleverly evil characters to set against the Redwallers. Slagar is cunning, cruel, and fueled by revenge. He would sacrifice his crew if it meant saving his own life. And stealing the children of those who you seek vengeance on is the lowest of low.
Mattimeo was a delight to read. This tale combines two classic tropes, coming of age and the path to becoming a hero. Mattimeo has a lot to learn, and a temper to curb to be the strength his friends need. He’s impulsive and is quick to anger when fear overcomes courage in his friends. While he believes they should be able to fight to escape, not all creatures can stand up to their oppressors. To witness characters struggle and ultimately become their better selves never grows old. Mattimeo may start rough around the edges, but his time with Slagar and the slavers will bring about a healthy dose of character development and push him towards becoming a hero like his father.
Brian Jacques creates characters and settings in a way that will make readers feel as if they are coming home to lifelong friends and familiar settings. There’s always an overarching puzzle or riddle to be solved that will ultimately aid in Redwall’s success and just enough tension laced within the scenes. I admire how he details his battles, depicting the clash between heroes and villains in a way that is safe for all ages. And while not every hero can be saved, he depicts their deaths in ways that honor their memories and gives peace to both the reader and the characters.
Mattimeo is another wonderful addition to the story of Redwall. While it is the third published book, it is the direct sequel to book one, Redwall. But each book is written so that readers can start at any point in the series. If you enjoy reading about a community of characters who are willing to risk their lives to save one of their own, you need to pick up this series.
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