Right from the start of this rousingly old-fashioned prequel to Redwall , readers will submerge themselves in the culture of the woodlanders and their council, the Corim, against the wicked Kotir. Kotir is the name of the group holed up at the castle, led by Tsarmina, a wildcat who poisons her father and imprisons her good brother Gingivere so that she may rule in her own way. Into the woodlanders' midst comes Martin the Warrior, who becomes fast friends with Gonff the mousethief and others; they soon set off to find the only warrior who can lead them to victory. More important than the outcome of the story, where good triumphs over evil, are the characters: baby hedgehogs Ferdy and Coggs, doing their valiant best to become warriors; the kindly Gingivere, who finds his heart's joy as a farmer; Lady Amber, the squirrel Chief and her band of archers; Chibb, the robin who will spy for anyone as long as he is paid in candied chestnuts. Martin's heroics pale in comparison to the acts of his fellow-fighters, so colorful are their escapades. While Redwall fans will enjoy this, no prior knowledge of that book is necessary. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 10-up. (Nov.)
Gr 4-7-An energetic cast brings to life Mossflower (Philomel, 1988), Brian Jacques' rip-roaringly entertaining animal fantasy, a prequel to Redwall. The actors bring conviction to their roles, whether playing brave mice, daft weasels, or ferocious furry villains. Mossflower tells of a tyrannical wildcat named Tsarmina, self-proclaimed Queen of the Thousand Eyes and ruler of Mossflower Woods. She has diabolical plans for the woodlanders, and listeners will delight in her melodramatic yowls and hisses as she plans to dominate every hedgehog, otter, or mouse who crosses her path. Fighting her are Martin the Warrior, a mouse whose bravery knows no bounds, and a funny minstrel mouse thief named Gonff. The latter's delightful songs are nicely performed. Various woodland creatures join Martin and Gonff in their fight, including two baby hedgehogs possessing delusions of grandeur. The story moves at a brisk pace as Martin, Gonff, and a mole named Dinny embark on a journey to Alamandastron, where they hope to find the legendary Boar the Fighter. Pursuing them are Tsarmina's hapless, bickering soldiers. A gifted writer (and narrator), Jacques makes each action scene crackle with energy. His cast is game from start to finish, playing each moment with a sense of fun and mischief. Some listeners may have trouble with the British accents at first, but those who stick with it will have a rollicking ride. Medieval music punctuates the end and beginning of each chapter. Mossflower is first rate in every respect.-Brian E. Wilson, Evanston Public Library, IL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.