Martin the Warrior
Author: Brian Jacques
Published By: Ace Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I’ve read numerous books by Brian Jacques set in or around Redwall Abbey and Martin the Warrior has been mentioned in every one. As founder of the Abbey, Martin is known as both a legendary warrior and a peace maker. But who was Martin the Warrior really and how did he become a mouse legends are told about? I decided to find out and so I picked up a copy of Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques.
The story is told by visitors to the Redwall Abbey over a feast in their honor. Flashing back to a time well before the births of the visiting mouse and hedgehog, the visitors tell the tale of a mouse enslaved by an evil horde of vermin run by a stoat named Badrang. The son of a warrior, Martin’s enslavement is doubly infuriating as he has also lost his father’s sword, a sword he was sworn to protect.
Despite being a slave, Martin would not allow himself to feel defeated, nor would he allow others to undergo outrageous punishment. It is during one such incident in which he defends an elderly squirrel from an unjust beating that Martin is sentenced to a horrific death by torture. A young mousemaid named Rose, and her mole friend Grumm, searching for her lost brother who is believed to be enslaved by Badrang, stumbles upon the scene and the two decide to help save Martin from certain death.
Badrang is furious at being cheated, but is forced to push that aside as he must face a former enemy attacking from the sea. Martin, along with Brome (Rose’s brother) and Felldoh (the elderly squirrel’s son), escapes from a prison pit with Rose and Grumm’s help and the newly freed slaves and their friends set out for Noonvale, home of Rose and Brome, hoping to drum up support to return and free the rest of Badrang’s slaves.
Unfortunately, during the journey, the group is separated from one another. They each undergo numerous trials that aid their growth in wisdom, courage and companionship. However, one thing can never be lessoned - Martin and Felldoh’s vows to return and destroy Badrang and his horde. We obviously know that Martin survives, but how?
First, may I say that, despite the fact that Brian Jacques is categorized as a children’s writer, Martin the Warrior is no children’s book. There is a great deal of suffering, hard decisions and descriptive death in this novel and I’m more inclined to allow a teenager access to this novel rather than a young child.
Now that the parental advisory has been taken care of, I have to say that I loved this novel. It went a long way in explaining how Martin the Warrior earned his legendary status and why he created Redwall Abbey as a place where peace could be found. The message of the novel is that strength of will and virtue will always overcome evil, but not without a price. A warrior must always be aware of the sacrifice they must make in attempting to defeat a monster like Badrang.
I’m a huge fan of Brian Jacques’ writing. It’s wonderfully descriptive and you can actually picture yourself right inside the tale. The characters are so captivating and you develop such a vested interest in their outcome that you quite forget they are all animals. I also like that Jacques is not afraid to kill off major characters in his tales - such is life and not everyone can survive a war simply because they are well-liked by the audience.
Martin the Warrior is a must read for any fan of the Redwall books. The novel is filled with action, adventure and suspense, making it a fast and exciting read. I’m so glad I picked this novel up as I now understand more about the warrior everyone in Redwall is always talking about.