HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Author: Brian Jacquces
Illustrator: David Elliot
Publisher: Perfection Learning, republished in 2004
ISBN-13: 978-0756934064 (hardcover)
ISBN-10: 0756934060 (hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0441011902 (paperback)
ISBN-10: 044101190X (paperback)
Related website: www.redwall.org (series)
Language level: I’m going to say 2 (the term “Hellgates” is used rather frequently)
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 10 and up
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Jacques, Brian. Loamhedge (copyrighted in 2003 by The Redwall La Davita Co. Ltd., and published in the United States by Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group of the Penguin Group USA Inc., 345 Hudson St., New York City, NY 10014). Named for the ancient abbey, doomed by pestilence, from which came the beasts with whom Martin the Warrior built Redwall Abbey in Mossflower Wood, and to which Slagar the Fox took Mattimeo, son of Matthias the Warrior who was featured in the original Redwall book, and others to sell as slaves, Loamhedge begins with Abruc the Otter’s saving of the badger Lonna Bowstripe who had been injured by the pirate Raga Bol and his searats. Lonna swears vengeance and follows the pirates, who are heading inland toward Redwall after their ship was destroyed. At Redwall, Martha is a wheelchair-bound haremaid who receives a vision that the key to her cure can be found at Loamhedge by two travelers. It just so happens that two travelers, former Redwallers Bragoon the Otter and Sarabando the Squirrel, return and are persuaded to make the quest to Loamhedge to see if they can find the secret for the cure.
Three other Redwallers, Martha’s brother Horty and his friends Fenna and Springald, sneak out to follow Bragoon and Sarabando. After the five have left Redwall is besieged, first by a small band of vermin under Badredd the Fox and then by Raga Bol and his pirate searats. Meanwhile, on their way to Loamhedge, Brag, Sara, and the three adolescents have to fight off several enemies, including the flesh eating Darrats under Birug the High Kappin, a group of ambushing reptiles, and worst of all the armies of Kharanjul the Wearet, a cross between a weasel and a ferret, possibly a descendent of the Slavemaster Wearet of the evil Marlkariss who ruled the abandoned Loamhedge nearby when Matthias went there to rescue Mattimeo, who guard the abyss that the travelers must cross to get to and from Loamhedge. Will Martha ever be able to walk? Will the travelers make it back to Redwall? And if they do, will there even be a Redwall for them to come back to?
Loamhedge has the classic Redwall theme of good versus evil and the typical triumphant, feel-good climax. And unlike some of the other Redwall books, this one offers not just one, not even just two, but five different enemies for the good guys to overcome! Other than a couple of common euphemisms and the word “bum,” a common British slang colloquialism for rear end, the only discordant note for me was the frequent use of the word “H***gates.” It’s as if someone decided that saying, “Go to h***” would not be appropriate for children, but somehow saying, “I will send you to H***gates,” is all right. Other than this, I enjoyed the book very much. Yes, there is some sadness along the way, especially at the end where a couple of the heroes die, but this simply emphasizes the concept that there is value even in death when it comes as a result of doing one’s duty in the cause of what’s right. Life will always have its moments of sorrow, but Redwall reminds us that when we act because we think of others rather than only ourselves, no matter what happens to us personally, we shall be victorious.