© Brian Jacques.
Recently reading and reviewing the graphic collection MOUSE GUARD, I was reminded of Brian Jacques “Redwall” series, of which I’d only read the first one. Seeing this battered paperback of the second volume in a used book store, I bought it and enjoyed reading it. My main problem with both Mouse Guard and Mossflower is that the lead characters are mice that are fierce warriors. Now, all the animals in both are anthropormorphized: they act much more like humans than animals, dressing in clothes, using tools and weapons, living in furnished homes, and, of course, speaking English. There is a long literary tradition of this, the most popular probably being Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind In The Willows,” and certainly HIS animals did lots of things no real animal could do. I mean, a toad driving a car, for instance! Somehow, though, Grahame’s superior writing made it work fine for me, though…or maybe it was because I read it as a child, at a less critical age, I don’t know.
I like animal stories of this kind, I have many favorites, but as I’ve said before, it works better for me when the animals don’t go completely against their original animal nature. That’s why fighting mice bother me. And the collection of different species all working together, or in some cases battling each other, is also a bit of a problem because of the size differential. I mean, a mouse fighting a fox or wildcat? We’re talking monumental differences of scale there. But, you know, after reading Mossflower a while, I began to think of the characters more as people than animals, and did eventually reach the “willing suspension of disbelief” that is critical for any fantasy to work for a reader. Okay, since these are humanized animals, they can have human personalities and skills, and probably be closer in size than real ones, too. Swept up in an exciting story, I gave in and went with it.
And it is a book chock-full of exciting adventures, intrigues, and characters. Hard-fought battles between two groups of animals for control of the woods named Mossflower, clever plans and reversals for both sides, including deaths of some characters; an adventurous quest covering large areas of the world around Mossflower, even a pirate ship figure into the story. Nothing terribly deep, but a fun adventure that entertains throughout. Okay, I’m done with the animal/human thing. I’ll probably read more of these in the future. Recommended.