May 2nd, 2002
I apologise for the lack of alliteration or pun in the title, but I have changed the colours on my computer and it is really off putting. Last year, some may painfully recall I wrote an editorial concerning my predictions on the contents of 'The Taggerung'. I do admit the predictions were a long way off target. So, it may surprise you to hear, then, that I'm now going to do something similar on 'Triss'. PLEASE DON'T STOP READING! It will be slightly different this time. For one thing, there will be less guessing involved. We in the Redwall community are lucky enough to have an author like Mr. Jacques. He gives you hints, but never spoils it for you. With 'Triss', we are even more lucky: we have an entire handwritten note to examine and tare letter from letter, word from word. So, my predictions may be slightly better.
Just for convenience, I think I will just place the two pieces of evidence I will be using here, [as] I will refer to them constantly:
"RIFTGUARD - Stronghold of the albino ferrets and their ratguards. Prison to a host of starved and miserable slaves, one of whom is Triss the squirrelmaid.and
"The following year ['02] we'll have Triss. T-r-i-s-s. And it's a great Redwall story. Triss. Kids often say to me "Why has a heroine never wielded the sword of Martin?" Say nothing, Tim. Read Triss. Read Triss."Now [that] that's all sorted, I can concentrate on making predictions...
You may remember, a little while ago, when the note about 'Loamhedge' (and the one about 'Triss') came out, people were quite unsure what was meant by the quote "Meet two ex Dibbuns, now growing old." There was quite a bit of discussion about who these two ex-dibbuns were. It has not been settled for sure, but, what I am pretty sure of is that it was a typing error, because after that it says "SAROBANDO the otter and his companion, BRAGOON the squirrel." and with that ending the sentence. So, you can see why I believe it to be purely a typing error on the part of whoever kindly typed up the handwritten note, with Sarobando and Bragoon being the 'two ex Dibbuns'.
Anyway, this gives us two characters and by the way they are talked about, it suggests they were previously dibbuns in another book. I have checked the books and none of them have these two as dibbuns, so the only possible one could be 'Triss'. Which means 'Triss' must come just before 'Loamhedge'. This shows 'Triss' ' chronological placement, as in the note about 'Loamhedge' it was suggested by the tenses used that 'Loamhedge' comes after 'Mattimeo'. If this is so, then the only place where there would be room to fit two books with different characters in would be after 'The Taggerung'.
Of course, this isn't a flawless prediction, but I believe 'Triss' will come after 'The Taggerung', and before 'Loamhedge'.
Characters: Heroes and Heroines
Well, obviously, there is Triss herself. Without her the title would be a bit of a farce. She is a squirrelmaid and we know that she is prisoner on Riftguard. Also, the second piece of evidence confirms what you might expect, that she wields the sword of Martin. We are not told a great deal more about her than this.
When you first hear that 'Triss' comes after 'The Taggerung', you begin to expect that many characters will flow from one book to the next, but I have a reason why they may do so. Now, we know that Triss wields the sword of Martin, which makes her the Redwall 'champion'. If she starts the story as a prisoner in Riftguard, then this suggests, to me, that she is given or becomes wielder of the sword part of the way through the book. If this is so, then it is unlikely that she takes the sword of Martin from a current 'champion', so this suggests to me that Deyna is dead or retired by the beginning of the book.
If Deyna is no longer living, then it is unlikely that Mhera is still Abbess. I doubt if characters such as Egburt and Floburt will appear in it, as they are of a very close age to Deyna and Mhera. But, this has further implications. First of all, I was half expecting this to be the fourth appearance of Russano, perhaps in the storyline with the badger and the hare, but if you think about Russano being a child in 'The Long Patrol', it may cut down his odds. But, then again, think how long badgers live-- take Bella for example.
Other characters we know of include 'A young badger, and a young hare' and 'a sea otter friend'. I have my own little theory with these characters. I think the 'young badger' is one of Russano's two children (Snowstripe and Melanius), which were featured in the prologue and epilogue of 'Lord Brocktree'. I reckon it could be a case of growing pains.
Let us not forget Sarobando and Bragoon, with the possible DAB (dibbuns against bedtime).
There will, of course, be many other characters. For example, Triss's fellow slaves. There will probably be an entirely new batch of Abbey characters who are never mentioned in the promotion. In fact, we do not even know the name of the current Abbot or Abbess, if there is one.
Right at the beginning of the first piece of evidence, a bold statement is made. In fact, it seems to take the initial focus, leaving Triss slightly sidelined. Albino Ferrets! This will be interesting because ferrets appear to be quite low vermin. In fact, the most recent main villains to be ferrets are Swatt and Veil. But, remember, they are albino... maybe this gives them a feeling of status. This would not surprise me, considering they are served by rat guards. Considering the albino ferrets are obviously rare and that they are being served by rat guards, it seems to me that it is quite possibly a type of ruling family. This suggests that there may be some interfamily wrangling.
There is one other possible villain or group of villains which is identified in this quote "Terror lurks in Mossflower Wood, the creatures of Redwall find their way of life endangered by a nameless horror." But, I warn you, do not go jumping to the conclusion that it is necessarily an actual creature. It could be a disease. Even if it is a creature, it may not be one who is actually a villain. This may sound like a long shot, but by the way he says 'their way of life' suggests to me it may be something like the Gawtrybe. If this is so, then it is not so much villain related.
In the note, we are supplied with four; Redwall, Riftguard, Salamandastron and Brockhall. The last of these sounds a bit strange for a book with this chronological placement. Maybe this is linked with the 'nameless horror'. Perhaps it has now become inhabited. In fact, it could possibly be linked with 'A young badger, and a young hare' who 'run away from their home'. But, I doubt this considering they go of in a boat.
I'm not really sure what Riftguard is, other than an 'island stronghold'. There are no hints as to where it is, other than that it is probably in the western ocean if my second proposed storyline is to apply (see below).
In addition to this, I believe that quite a great deal of this adventure will take place at sea, involving both Triss and the young sailors.
Guesses at the storyline:
I warn you, you may wish not to read this. If so, simply skip to the next sub-heading.
From looking at the note, I reckon there are two key storylines or clusters of storylines. The first involves Redwall Abbey and, possibly, Brockhall. Basically, we have normal Abbey life going on. I don't think there will be a champion at the time because of the reasons I have already given-- there may not even be an Abbot or an Abbess at this time in the story. I then think that, possibly, the 'nameless horror' appears in whichever way it does, depending on what it is. It is hard to guess what happens now, but I reckon it is tamed (or cured), if that is the right word... perhaps made amicable is a better way of putting it, but I doubt it. I think this then leads onto Brockhall somehow, perhaps involving a search for it, which would explain the 'mysteries to be solved' bit in the note.
My second proposed storyline is a bit more complex. To start with, Triss is a slave in Riftguard, as are many others. I think Triss escapes somehow, but I am not sure where to and how she would do it, but let us avoid that detail for the sake of the general explanation. Also, a badger and a hare have run away from home, which I guess would be Salamandastron. I have already made a few suggestions about the badger. I think the hare is purely being loyal to the badger. They go to sea with the sea otter-- by the way it was written in the note, it was somehow previously planned by the runaways. Then, while at sea, they somehow take Triss (and possibly others) onboard, whether they are sailing in a stolen boat or that they are stranded on some rocks, perhaps they even rescue them off Riftguard. Then, they sail of to wherever, possibly being pursued, as this would fit the 'sea chase' in the note. In the end, I think they somehow end up at the Abbey. Perhaps this is where some of them come from in the first place. There is one possible flaw with this proposed storyline: if Triss does wield the sword of Martin, then how does she come to possess it if she is escaping from Riftguard and sailing of to sea with a badger and a hare?
I believe there will also be another storyline, at least. If this is so, then I reckon it may involve the albino ferrets, possibly arguing amongst themselves or with the rat guards, or maybe they are pursuing escaped prisoners. Maybe all three!
In this section, I'm just going to take a look at a few trivial things which you may not find interesting, but I think are worth mentioning.
The first is with Russano. If Russano appears in this book, even if, like in the other books, it is quite a small role, then he will be the first character to feature in four 'Tales of Redwall' (alive [that is]. Martin features in almost every one). But, in my mind, that fact only reminds me that he is getting very old (only in chronological age) and, because of this, less likely to feature at all.
The next is on the story's structure. In 'The Taggerung', we saw a very different structure to that which we are familiar with. I do not believe a similar thing will be done with 'Triss'. This is purely because I believe that the reason for the structure being so different was to allow for the storyline, which was quite different from your average Redwall (if there is such a thing).
This is not to say that 'Triss' won't be a very different book. Many of the very original things in 'The Taggerung' were actually not so much the storyline and the structure, but more things such as focus and particular characters (such as Nimbalo). There is nothing in the information we have that suggests 'Triss' cannot have this.
A little while ago, Brian Jacques said he would be featuring the DAB (dibbuns against bedtime) in a future book. I was never sure which book he meant, but in the run up to the release of 'The Taggerung' people seemed to be under the impression that he was referring to that book, so there may have been a bit of disappointment in the fact that it did not feature. But, I don't think that it was meant to be in 'The Taggerung', no I reckon it's in 'Triss'. This fits quite well with Sarabando and Bragoon. But, there is another thing I believe it links with, the 'nameless horror'.
Also, I am wondering what the chances are on the audio cassette being multi-voiced. I normally wouldn't think about this, but, with 'The Taggerung' I believe, according to reliable sources, it was a multi-voice production, which I much prefer. This is the 1st one other than 'Redwall' itself to get this treatment. [Ed. Note - Actually, Martin the Warrior got it, too.] I am unsure whether this will now become the norm, but I hope it does.
When I first read the first bit of the note, it reminded me of Terramort in 'Mariel of Redwall' and Castle Marl in 'Marlfox'. It is possible that Riftguard is located where either of these strongholds were. I slightly favour Terramort, because it is far more accessible, allowing Triss to be, well, what I said in the Storyline section. Also, it was a greater time since it was used by villains as a stronghold for evil. Though, if it was Castle Marl, then there would be an inbuilt population of rats, who may be quite possibly willing to follow the leadership of creatures with different fur colourings.
In my previous editorial, I talked how my moving average graph the length of 'Triss' is predicted to be of about 453 pages in length. Now, I think this is a slight over estimate, but it won't suprise me at all if 'Triss' is over 400 pages, especially considering all the storylines suggested or possible, just from looking at the note.
Conclusion: 'Triss' looks to be a great book and I can't wait for it to be released. There are all the ingredients for a great 'Tale of Redwall', though even from what we know it is hard to define the actual 'mood' of the book, as we really only know its starting point. September better come quick!