The Pearls of Lutra, by Brian Jacques

May 20, 2012 at 18:40 (Adventure, Book Reviews, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Highly Rated Books) (, , , )

9/10

In this excellent novel Brian Jacques served up a very different flavour of Redwall book, demonstrating that the winning formula he devised was robust enough to experiment with. Gone is the usual vermin horde pressing hungrily around the sandstone abbey walls; and instead piracy, desertion, tropical tyrants, and exotic heroes and villains alike. At the same time, The Pearls of Lutra maintains enough of Redwall’s classic hallmarks, with one of Jacques’ best-written riddle quests, his best female protagonist since Mariel, and a truly excellent pair of buddy-adventurers in Clecky and Gerul.

“Far across the heaving deeps of restless ocean, some say even beyond the place where the sun sinks in the west, there lies the Isle of Sampetra…rotten as a flyblown carcass…haven to the flotsam of the high seas.”

-The Pearls of Lutra

Brian Jacques has always been willing to sacrifice even beloved characters on the altar of emotive storytelling (some extreme examples include Martin the Warrior and The Outcast of Redwall), and without needlessly elaborating,The Pearls of Lutra contains some of his thickest pathos of all, with some parts truly harrowing.

There is something fresh in the storytelling that has only a little to do with the novelty of the creatures and locations in this book, and something more akin to the swashbuckling adventures of Treasure Island or The Three Musketeers; a feeling that Jacques is perhaps for the first time writing really good children’s literature. There is a real sense of setting off into the unknown, and the freedom and danger that entails. This book demonstrates the best of Brian Jacques, without necessarily seeming like Brian Jacques.

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