This book didn’t really take me almost three years to read. I read a couple chapters, then reread them, then finally read the book all the way through.
I had a little trouble getting into the book initially, which is uncommon for Jacques’ books (in my experience). Most of his books have great hooks, great characters, and great adventure, right from the start. The problem with this one is that it did not quite feel original enough. The Ravagers remind me of the Rapscallions. Vilaya reminds me of Tsarmina or Silth the Marlfox. Zwilt reminds me of Ferahgo. Buckler is like a cross between Rakkety Tam and Tammo. Diggs is similar to any number of hares. The troupe of hedgehogs is like the Wandering Noonvale Companions or the Rambling Rosehip Players. Stealing children to defeat Redwall is like Mattimeo.
Ultimately, there were original elements. A warrior mole was a nice touch. Sables, as creatures, had not appeared before. I just had to work harder to find them than I usually do.
This book also seemed a little more tame than others, as far as deaths for heroes are concerned. Only one (named) protagonist character was killed in the course of the book. (Of course, a couple of my favorite books are probably Martin the Warrior and The Long Patrol, so I may be biased toward killing protagonists more than most fans.)
Ultimately, it was a fine installment, but not one of the best.
Of course, I’ve only just learned that Mr. Jacques passed away three years ago, so now I feel a little bad for saying negative things.
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