Crikey it’s been a long time since my last book review. Put than down to getting behind with blogging in the early part of the year and having too many movie magazines to read on the tube. But now it’s back to business as usual with another Tale of Redwall under the microscope, and this time it’s Eulalia!
The 19th book in the Redwall series, published in 2007, Eulalia! (the title refers to the traditional war cry of badger lords and Salamandastron hares) charts the story of Gorath the Flame, a young badger taken prisoner by the villainous golden fox Vizka Longtooth and his Sea Raiders who make efforts to press gang him into becoming a blind weapon of a slave for them. At the same time a pair of wayward young creatures, Mad Maudie (the Hon.) Mugberry Thropple of Salamandastron and Orkwil Prink of Redwall are ejected from their respective homes to learn some responsibility and overcome their habitual fighting/thieving delete as appropriate. Naturally worlds collide and the ensuing adventure, I’m happy to say, carries on the fine work of High Rhulain.
The first half of the book is among the best of Jacques storytelling since The Legend of Luke mixing a bleak tone in Gorath’s story with a colder-than-usual narrative in Maudie and Orkwil’s strands. Vizka Longtooth, the latest in a recent series trend of relatively under-ambitious nasties is nonetheless an interesting big bad, early chapters made intriguing by his comparatively warm relationship with his dim-witted brother. Orkwil Prink is an unusual creation, a mixture of Gonff and Veil in hedgehog form whose arc is fairly obvious but he’s likeable enough. Maudie is your typically ballsy Salamandastron haremaid and hers is the most thrilling story, featuring an extended escape sequence from another baddie, Gruntan Kurdly.
The second half sees the three strands combine into a pretty open-ended free-for-all in which we are given the unique situation of having two separate hordes laying siege to Redwall. Things do plod a bit while the characters take time to get a good bit of feasting done but there are still highlights such as Osbil the Guosim shrew’s haunting Bladchant and the build-up to Vizka Longtooth’s inevitable demise is about as stirring as it gets.
Eulalia! is not as consistent as High Rhulain but its highlights stand out more clearly. With a sombre tone that recalls Outcast of Redwall and some of the most cracking adventure sequences for a while it is arguably the best Tale of Redwall in years.