April 9th, 2001
Tell me if I'm being a worry-wart, and more than necessarily twisted in the knickers department, not that I have knickers. But I've noticed a slight trend in the past few Tales of Redwall, from The Long Patrol onwards.
When I first started reading Tales of Redwall, I started with Martin the Warrior in 1998. Wow! The first taste is always great with a good thing! I then carried on in chronological order right through to Marlfox, after that I read each new one as it came out, Legend of Luke and Lord Brocktree, I'm now looking forward to Taggerung in September.
Any way back to the point, when I read The Long Patrol I saw the 1000 strong horde of Damug Warfang's Rapscallions as a one off, which is quite a reasonable assumption as forces in previous books had been smaller (such as the 400-500 in Cluny's army or with Gabool where it is not so much the sheer numbers which are focused on as being the main power of the Evil).
Well, when I read Marlfox I did not see anything particularly unusual in the numbers of Vermin troops, I think something like 300 in the final battle for the abbey. But note the Marlfox brood are deemed supernatural.
I then proceeded to Legend of Luke. Now, lets just think about the Evil force this time. The Goreleech, biggest sea vessel ever built. Now, this rang bells with me on the Rapscallions 1000+ force, but after thinking about how in Marlfox the force had been so small, I dismissed thoughts about how close the two books were as coincidence and as of no substance.
Then came Lord Brocktree, and the Wildcat Villain, Ungat Trunn, who came with three main features: a competitive streak when faced with his family, 'a horde of vermin as numerous as the leaves in autumn', and a certain closeness to spiders. The point I'm interested in is the second. Basically, he has a huge army now. Where have we heard this before oh so recently? Long Patrol, ahem!
Now I was a bit worried here, the trend was growing, and fast! But then I said to myself, "What about Marlfox?" I was quite puzzled.
I then looked a previews about Taggerung, and I smiled. There was no evidence of a huge horde army, just a very powerful otter brought up by vermin, a fulfilment of a prophesy, supernatural eh. Then it hit me it wasn't so much about a large horde or the biggest boat, but more towards sensationalism. Fancy word, 14 letters, almost as long as containerisation (I love long words!). Now for all you out there wondering what to the far reaches of this earth I'm talking about, I'll tell you. Sensationalism is when, in this case, instead of a point in a story being there with a sole purpose to be part of the story, to be a thread in the tapestry, a note in a symphony. But, with sensationalism it becomes more than that, it becomes a selling point, a way of clocking up brownie points (don't worry it's a British term), a reason you must by this book.
Now the thing is I'm not criticising the actual story or Brian Jacques himself. I'm more concerned about the way the Redwall Series is being marketed. To me this is not a good thing, though it may be necessary to make Tales of Redwall financially viable for publishers. Face it, Redwall is not the most well known of book series'. It is dwarfed by ones such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and suchlike, so it needs a target audience who aren't fanatical about it and don't buy it every time a new one comes out. I believe the company is aiming for the people who read fantasy books in general but haven't settled on a favourite author or series and pick up the book which catches their interest. To me, this explains why it is marketed in this fashion: not to annoy us with ever escalating figures, but to impress someone who is browsing.
Now, looking to the future I think this will carry on. The next book is about Triss and as explained on this page: http://members.aol.com/m3may/upcoming/triss.html.
Triss is actually the first maid to wield the sword of Martin. Again, I spot a sneak of sensationalism, the hype is being focused on Girl Power (excuse the retro phrasing if you will).
But, there is a glimmer of hope with Loamhedge, possibly coming in 2003. I do not see much sensationalism in it yet, so there is hope.
To conclude, I'm not criticising the Brian Jacques. Just saying something about the marketing techniques and mainly to say, look out for... Sensationalism!!