May 2nd, 2002
We all wait in eager anticipation for the release of 'Triss'. We marvel at the wonderful artwork. We hang on every word of those who are lucky enough to get to preview it. But, what happens when 'Triss' is released? What about 'Loamhedge'?
I have to say, I was quite surprised when I read a well respected member of the ROC saying that 'Loamhedge' looks to be about the Abbey in the grips of Dryditch fever, before Abbess Germane and her brothers and sisters travel north to Mossflower, for this is not the case at all. The proof? A certain handwritten note from the author himself and posted at www.Redwall.org about a year back:
"Multiply the number of seasons it takes for a stone to grow old, by a thousand, and the name of Loamhedge is still spoke of at Redwall Abbey.The first mice, led by Abbess Germaine, fled the great sickness of Loamhedge to wander through Mossflower. There it was that they met Martin the Warrior and his Corim friends. Together they helped build Redwall Abbey. Most of Loamhedge was destroyed at the climax of "Mattimeo". But still it's mysteries lay hidden. What secrets of ancient wisdom were buried there?When reading this, you need to sort the facts from the 'talking up'. So, I am going to offer my view on it. But, this is not the only piece of information we have on the book:
"Q: When the mice of Loamhedge still lived in the Loamhedge area how did they live? in Mossflower it says that they couldn't have built an abbey because there was very few natural stone to use for an abbey, so how did they eat and sleep and all that stuff?That is all the information I feel there is. I will now try and draw out the facts, suggest some implications, and speculate a few points.
This is quite obvious from the information above: it is some time after 'The Taggerung'. As to whether it is after 'Triss' requires a slightly more complex analysis. I believe it comes after 'Triss' for two reasons. Firstly, it would seem a bit odd if Brian Jacques was to write a book one year, then write a book the next year to come after it, but then the next year to write one that fits between them. But, secondly, and perhaps more convincingly, Brian Jacques says in his note "Meet two ex Dibbuns, now growing old. SAROBANDO the otter and his companions, BRAGOON the squirrel." This would suggest that Sarabando and Bragoon must have previously featured in a book as dibbuns. But, this is not so; I would conclude that they are dibbuns in 'Triss', which would mean that this book comes after 'Triss'.
There are three that are mentioned in the above evidence. The first two are "SAROBANDO the otter and his companions, BRAGOON the squirrel". In addition to this, there is "A young haremaid has spent her life in a home made wheelchair, unable to walk", who I assume is the same as "Martha, a young hare". Sarabando is male, Martha is female, but it is unclear whether Bragoon is male or female. Though, I think we can assume, by the fact that he is not referred to as a squirrelmaid, that it is a he and not a she.
As it comes as a sequel to 'Triss', it is quite possible that some characters from there show up again. The most likely candidates, for me, are Lord Hightor, Lady Merola, and Sagaxus, as they are all badgers and, because of this, might be expected to live longer. Also, if what I believe about Sarabando and Bragoon's dibbunhood is true, then there may be a few more ex-dibbuns as members of the Abbey, like with Sister Sloey. In addition to this, I am sure there will be a whole host of new Abbey dwellers in positions, such as cellarhog and infirmary keeper.
We tend to refer to the title of 'Loamhedge' as only being what we have dubbed it, but I think it could be the actual title for two main reasons. Firstly, the fact that it is referred to as that, and nothing else, may mean that the publishers decide to use the title as it fits the book and is already familiar in the ROC. Secondly, in the note Brian Jacques says "Loamhedge is the story of how Redwallers went on a quest to find these answers", this would suggest that 'Loamhedge' is the actual title.
It is well known that the land where Loamhedge was has been hit by earthquakes twice, atleast. Once some time before 'Mattimeo' and again at the climax of that very book. So, it is a logical assumption that there is not really anything in the way of an Abbey left. But, also in the above information, it is described more as "A village community" than an Abbey building in the Redwall sense. This is unlikely to have changed in Brian Jacques' mind, as we can assume that this answer was given less than a year after this book was written.
Be warned, if you do not want to possibly have some of the plot, only really the start of it, revealed, then I recommend you do not read this part. However, please keep in mind that this is only educated guess work and is probably wrong.
From looking at the note, I would say that there appear to be two key storylines: the quest in search of Loamhedge and a vermin attack on Redwall. The most likely motive I can see for a quest to Loamhedge would be that of discovery. But, what do they wish to discover? Well, if we refer back to the note where it says, "But still it's mysteries lay hidden. What secrets of ancient wisdom were buried there?" This plays upon me an idea: perhaps they go in search of a way to cure Martha's lameness. It may sound a bit far fetched, but that is all I can really imagine. What they actually find there, and whether Martha is healed or whatever, I could not even begin to guess.
But, while Sarabando and Bragoon are away, I guess one of them, probably Sarabando, wields the sword of Martin, the Abbey is attacked by "a bumbling vermin crew" who "have come, seeking what they have been told is a magic sword". A siege seems set to ensue.
In addition to these, there may be other storylines in addition, which have simply not been mentioned, yet.
All sources seem to suggest that it will be released in September 2003. This makes good sense, as 'Triss' is to be released in the September of this year (2002), and 'Loamhedge' is the book to come after that.
Good or bad:
I think there is a good number of plot lines and new original ideas to make this a good one. Some people may be slightly wary of the idea of a seige, seeing it as a repeated idea. But, it is important to take in mind that their motives seem to not be in search of conquest, and not necessarily of theivery.
I am really looking forward to both 'Triss' and 'Loamhedge', as they both look set to be great books and I am sure, in time, we will not be disappointed.