-The Red Badger
March 21st, 2000
It is a popular opinion among fans that BJ has fallen into a hole with his writing. All the Redwall books seemed to follow the exact same story, only with different names and faces:
1) Young one screws up royally.
2) Young one and best friend(s) leave home (Redwall) to correct mistake and chase villain.
3) Young one is forced to grow up.
4) Young one eventually defeats and slays said villain.
5) Young one returns home now commanding the respect and adulation of the naysayers in the beginning of the book.
Quite honestly, even if BJ has used that formula for a few of his tales, I think he still manages to weave an enchanting tale. A nice break from the problems we face in real life. But, it does get old.
It's also a popular opinion among fans that, with The Legend of Luke, BJ has forsaken his formula. For the most part, I agree. TLoL was excellent. Definitely worthy of the excitement and anticipation of Luke's tale that has been generating among fans for years. But, in it's own way, Luke is also a failure. At best, 1/3 of the book is about Luke. The rest focuses on Martin. Don't get me wrong, I like Martin as much as the next guy (and I'm really glad Gonff now has a second book under his belt) but the anticipation of this book was for it to showcase LUKE. The tale of Luke was enthralling and fast paced, but it could have been so much more if BJ chose to keep Martin's involvement into a prologue/epilogue. Shortness aside, it is still an excellent book, which doesn't follow the above formula. Back to the formula, though, could it be a product of BJ writing The Redwall Series to appease the fans? His recent quote, "I'm not tired of Redwall. [It] is my great love. But, I did want to do other things. I must be allowed to explore my talent as a writer." raises some interesting points. It seems that Redwall's popularity has kept BJ from writing other tales, which is, indeed, a shame. A writer must be allowed to write the tales they want. Then again, they must also keep their fans in mind, because if they didn't have the fans, then they wouldn't be popular. It seems BJ is both liberated and imprisoned by his fans. As for myself, I don't want to see BJ abandon Redwall. What I do want is for him to write other tales as well, maybe close to home or not. I always hope for there being a sub-series of Redwall entitled "The Loamhedge Chronicles" or something. There is a whole, untapped potential in Loamhedge. However, I also want more stand-alone tales, such as his upcoming The Castaways of the Flying Dutchman. I expect great things from that book and am anxious to see BJ tackle human characters in a full novel (as opposed to short stories in Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales).
-The Red Badger