- Brian Jacques
While not necessary, reading Salamandastron makes the story more enjoyable.
Marlfox is Brian Jacques’ eleventh novel in the Redwall Series. It was published in Great Britain in July of 1998 and was published in the United States in December of 1998.
From whence does he come? To where does he go? These are answers no creature may know. Marlfox! The Marlfoxes, magical creatures with the ability to vanish without a trace, are thought to be nothing more than a legend– a story to tell to naugty dibbuns who won’t go to bed when they’re told. In truth, however, the Marlfoxes exist. The seven children of the High Queen Silth, who rules Castle Marl on the hidden island in the Great Inland Lake, the Marlfoxes serve their mother as the commander of a great army of Water Rats. Six of the Marlfoxes; Mokkan, Ziral, Predak, Ascrod, Vannan and Gelltor; are sent forth by Silth to plunder and steal things of great beauty, to surround their queen with. Journeying to Mossflower Country with a force of Water Rats, the Marlfoxes make way for Redwall Abbey, it being the only place nearby that would have suitable treasure. Once they arrive in the forest land, the Marlfoxes appear in groups of two all over, attacking the wandering family of Janglur Swifteye, stealing the six logboats from Log A Log and the GUOSIM, hounding the Sensational Wandering Noonvale Troupe (decendants of the Rambling Rosehip Players), even two appearing at Redwall Abbey early, attempting to con two dibbuns into opening the gate for them. Each pair of Marlfoxes are driven off, but the news of their presence must be spread, so Janglur Swifteye, the GUOSIM, the Noonvale Troupe, and the Skipper of Otters all set out for Redwall to warn the peaceful creatures to be on guard. Redwall Abbey has become populated with the elders and dibbuns, however. It even had no Abbot or Abbess, Abbot Arven having passed away seasons earlier. Without any leader or Abbey Warrior, Redwallers co-operate and gratefully welcome the help of the GUOSIM, Janglur Swifteye and the Noonvale Troupe. The Marlfoxes soon make their presence known when they kidnap Baby Dwopple, the mousebabe member of the Noonvale Troupe. Ransoming the dibbuns’ life for Redwall’s treasure, the Abbeydwellers form a plan to save Dwopple and defeat the Marlfoxes. During the exchange, Dwopple is spirited back to Redwall by Badgermum Cregga while a battle between the Redwallers and the Water Rat army ensues. Unknown, two Marlfoxes sneak into the Abbey while everyone is rescuing Dwopple. Searching the Abbey for any valuables, they are drawn to the famed tapestry of Martin the Warrior. Knocking out the three Redwallers left to guard the Abbey; Songbreeze Swifteye, Dannflor Reguba and Dippler of the GUOSIM; the Marlfoxes steal the tapestry and make their escape.
Meanwhile, at the battle outside the Abbey, Janglur Swifteye kills the Marlfox Ziral, forcing the army to retreat. It would not end, however. The Marlfoxes would have been content to steal from the Abbey, then leave. But, it is blood for blood among the Marlfoxes, and when one of their own is lost, it’s war. Mokkan, feigning injury, stays by the boats with a small group of Water Rats and the tapestry, whilst the other Marlfoxes leave for war. Mokkan quickly destroys five of the logboats, then, loads the final one with the remaining Water Rats and the tapestry. He then sets off for the island to present the treasure to Queen Silth alone and claim all the glory. At Redwall, shamed by their failure, Dannflor, Songbreeze and Dippler sneak out of the Abbey and set off after the Marlfox to retrive the heart of the Abbey, the tapestry, and right their mistake. So begins the greatest adventure in the young trios life.
I enjoyed Marlfox immensly. The book had a definite “unique” air to it, easily setting it apart from the other books in the series. The plight of Redwall, having no Abbot or Abbess, was also fresh and fun to read about. Full of captivating songs and memorable characters with realistic growth, Marlfox is easily one of the best books Mr. Jacques has written.