HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Martin the Warrior
Author: Brian Jacques
Illustrator: Gary Chalk
Publisher: Firebird Books, republished in 2004
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Jacques, Brian. Martin the Warrior (copyright by The Redwall Abbey Company Ltd.; published in 1993 in Great Britain by Hutchinson Children’s Books Limited; republished in 1994 in the United States by Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers of the Penguin Group USA Inc., 345 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). Badrang the stoat is an evil Tyrant who rules over Marshank, the fortress that he is building with slave labor. One of those slaves is a mouse named Martin, son of Luke the Warrior. Years before, when Luke had left to fight for freedom, he gave his sword to Martin. It is now in the hands of Badrang. However, with the inside help of two other slaves, a squirrel named Felldoh and a young mouse named Brome, and with outside help from Brome’s sister Rose and her friend Grumm the mole, Martin escapes. The five are separated at sea. Martin, Rose, and Grumm make their way through many adventures to head for Rose’s home of Noonvale in hopes of finding help to defeat Badrang and reclaim Martin’s sword, while Felldoh and Brome join a group of actors known as the Rambling Rosehip Players, led by a badger named Rowenoak and a Hare named Ballaw, and after helping other slaves escape Marshank form the Fur and Freedom Fighters to attack Badrang.
Meanwhile, Badrang has his own problems as his old partner Cap’n Tramun Clogg and his crew arrive to claim their share of Badrang’s slaves. Will Martin and Rose survive their trip and make it to Noonvale for help? And will the Fur and Freedom Fighters be successful in their battle against Marshank or be defeated by Badrang’s horde? We have read several of the “Redwall Abbey” series of books. The original Redwall tells the story of how a young mouse named Matthias went to find the lost sword of Martin to help Redwall defeat Cluny the Scourge. The immediate sequel Mattimeo tells how Matthias had to go in search of his son Mattimeo who had been captured by Slagar the Fox. The immediate “prequel” to Redwall, Mossflower, tells how Martin the Warrior originally came to Mossflower Woods, helped to defeat Tsarmina the Cat, and founded Redwall Abbey. This further “prequel” then tells about the beginnings of Martin the Warrior. We have also read Lord Brocktree and Rakkety Tam.
Martin the Warrior is typical “Redwall.” It is exciting. In fact, I think that it is one of the best that I have read so far. There is a strong theme of good versus evil. Yet there is also the warning against seeking personal revenge. I found no bad language and, for that matter, nothing else which I consider objectionable. Yes, there is some sadness along the way, but in the end good triumphs over evil. And yes, there is fighting, but in the last analysis it reminds that there are some things worth fighting for. Redwall, Mattimeo, and Martin the Warrior have all been made into an animated cartoon series. We read the first two books before seeing their videos, but it was watching the video about Martin that made me want to read the book. The videos are quite good. But I still prefer the books!