Salamandastron by Brian Jacques | Book Review
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Ferhago the Assassin has set his eyes on Salamandastron. He is convinced treasure lies within the mountain’s depths. His son tricks Mara and her friend Pikkle into leaving the safety of Salamandastron to use as leverage. But Ferhago will find that the young badger and hare are not so easily kept captive. Meanwhile, across Mossflower Woods, Martin the Warrior’s sword is stolen from Redwall Abbey by members of Ferhago’s crew. Samkin the squirrel and Arula the molemaid set off to retrieve the Abbey sword, inevitably crossing paths with Mara and Pikkle. Together they must find a way to aid Salamandastron.
It was refreshing to see a squirrel wielding the sword of Martin the Warrior. The heroes of Redwall have all been mice up until Salamandastron. As each woodland creature has its own way of approaching situations, having a squirrel's perspective was a welcome change. Samkin is a skilled marksman but does not put his talent to good use. He and Arula are often found shooting arrows as pranks and landing themselves in trouble. But when Martin's sword is stolen, he and Arula do not hesitate to track down the thieves. And in doing so, they will overcome their mischievous ways and find themselves on their paths to becoming heroes.
While Redwall Abbey is an integral part of Salamandastron, the focus stays rooted in the characters tied to the mountain. Ferhago is a devious foe, willing to play the long game to win. He has many tricks up his sleeve and could care less if he is dishonorable in his victories. The solidarity and determination of the Salamandastron squad will encourage readers to cheer them on and weep alongside those who lose companions. The battle of good versus evil ensues as heroes young and old rise up against their vermin foes.
And while this time around no one is seeking to capture Redwall Abbey, a new unexpected threat lies in wait for the peaceful creatures. A sickness begins to spread, one that Brother Hollyberry has nothing to cure. And while it seems as if another plot would overtax the storyline, it gives readers a respite from the battles taking place at the mountain. Building a new form of tension as creatures succumb to the sickness awaiting the discovery of a cure.
Salamandastron breaks the mold of the previous Redwall books and yet still immerses readers in a wonderful tale filled with heroes, quests, and found family. The fifth book of the Redwall series provides a healthy dose of Redwall lore, wholesome adventure, and great characters. Readers will be sure to enjoy this fast-paced installment of the Redwall series.
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