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Mossflower Brian Jacques

Default Smiles Brian Jacques has written a lot of these. The Redwall series is mostly stand-alone books, which is great because you don’t really have to read anything in sequence. Just pick up a random title from the middle and enjoy. But don’t do that. They can be pretty hit and miss and we don’t want you picking up a miss on your first try.
Happy Sharky That’s why we’re reviewing Mossflower. Because when one of his books hits, it hits you right across the face.
Happy Smiles BAM. Imagine a world of talking animals, embroiled in war, intrigue, betrayal, daring escapes, slavery! The biggest body count of all the books we’ve reviewed so far! And Sharky, this is a book for kids.
Angry Sharky 4 How is this book for kids?
Default Smiles Right on cue. It’s not exactly kids kids. I read it when it was, what, twelve? But still, the sheer number of characters that bite the dust is… impressive. Anyway, this is a story about a group of woodland animals mounting a resistance against a cruel and tyrannical ruler bent on getting them back into her clutches. One little group goes off to bring back the real ruler, and the rest try to find a way to knocks holes in the tyrant’s defence as best they can.
Happy Sharky2 And there’s feasting.
Shocked Smiles Oh my GOD is there feasting. The descriptions of food in this whole series aren’t something you should ever read on an empty stomach.
Happy Sharky2 Another whole-series point is the descriptions are always beautiful and detailed. It’s not clever, sarcastic turn of phrase, but then not everything needs to be. You can feel the warm spring here, and that’s great.
Default Smiles Almost all the books follow this standard format of good versus evil and lots of eating and killing. It’s like an animal Valhalla. The villains are usually predatory animals with comically negative names like Ripfang and Badtooth, and sometimes they’re villains for the sake of villaining. The reason we love this particular book is because it’s so much more than that.
Happy Sharky2 The plot, even in the standard mold, is exciting and pacy. Some of the books can get a bit bogged down in despair and seriousness, but this one comes with righteous rage and revenge and it works so well to keep it sharp. The good guys aren’t just good guys, they’re adorable, brave, funny characters you want to follow. The villains get more complex, throwing up the best exception to the ‘bad species’ rule in this book. In fact one of them, despite being the son and brother of intensely cruel people (and even then one is more tactical and cunning and one is straight up insane), is very kind-hearted, and gets smushed by the cog-wheels of political machinations as a result.
Sad Smiles 2 Oh Gingivere. You’re such a precious, precious marshmallow…
Sassy Sharky Smiles got really invested in getting him rescued.
Happy Smiles Well YEAH. And while the otters are always lively, fighting-fit, hearty characters, this particular otter leader is one of my favourites.
Happy Sharky Also there’s the Mask who we love so much. Master of disguise, spy extraordinaire, great with kids and great guy all around.
Sad Smiles Oh Mask. Precious child.
Default Sharky Maybe it’d help with your sadness if you stop investing so much?
Shocked Smiles I CAN’T. Also, as if that wasn’t all enough, there’s a full count of three creepy monster-sized water creatures. PITCHED UNDERWATER BATTLES. And one of my favourite things, some species have their own accents. You haven’t lived until you’ve grinned at how the moles talk.

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Default Sharky This guy spends days after reading one of these books doing accents.
Shocked Smiles Look is it MY fault there’s so many of them?
Angry Sharky 3 I don’t mind you pretending to sound like a bat if you stop putting a blanket on your shoulders and jumping out at me from dark corners.
Angry Smiles That was ONE TIME, Sharky!
Confused Sharky Now, I don’t really have a lot bad to say about this book. I’m hard enough on the ‘hit and miss’ nature of the series as a whole, as well as some of cookie-cutter plots. This is such a great example of it all done well. Even if detailed, scene-setting descriptions aren’t your thing, there isn’t really so much of it that it should turn you off. But it’s something to keep in mind anyway. Also there’s a section of the latter half of the book that gets increasingly obsessed with destiny and things being already written and wow is it weird. It’s not that it’s bad in and of itself, just that it comes SO out of left field that you can start wondering if you’re even reading the same book. And if you don’t like characters bursting into song, you’re out of luck. There are a lot of songs. They’re really short but they keep cropping up.
Angry Smiles 2 Oh, also if you think books with talking animals are kiddy books and not worth your time, get out of my sight.
Sassy Sharky This might sound weirdly intense coming from mister rainbows and sunshine, but while he was gushing about the book someone looked at the cover and said ‘it looks like a fable. Kiddy stuff.’ And Smiles just went off on her, giving her a play by play of what was great about it and how dare she call it kiddy stuff. It was beautiful.
Angry Smiles 2 I feel a little bad, but she started it.
Sassy Sharky Oh Smiles. Precious marshmallow child.

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