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This article is about the book. For the place, see Mossflower Woods.


MFhardcover


Mossflower, US cover

Year Published: 1988
Illustrator: Gary Chalk
US Cover Artist: Troy Howell
UK Cover Artist: Pete Lyon
Page Count: 431
ISBN: ISBN 0399215492
ISBN-13: ISBN 9780399215490
Chronological Order: 3
Publication Order: 2
Mossflowerukhc


Mossflower, UK cover


Mossflower is the second book in the Redwall saga. It takes place chronologically after the events of Martin the Warrior. Created as a prequel to Redwall, the novel clarifies the origins of Redwall Abbey and Martin's sword. The storyline also provides some background of the legendary mouse and introduces the mountain of Salamandastron for the first time.


Book Divisions (English)

  • Book 1: Kotir
  • Book 2: Salamandastron
  • Book 3: Of Water and Warriors


Summary of Book 1: Kotir

Arrival at Kotir

Martin the Warrior arrives in Mossflower Woods after recently escaping from Fort Marshank. He discovers that Mossflower is being ruled by a tyrant wildcat, Verdauga Greeneyes, who resides in the Castle Kotir. After getting into a fight with some of Verdauga's soldiers, Martin is imprisoned at the orders of Verdauga. Verdauga's daughter, Tsarmina, breaks Luke the Warrior's sword in half, and Martin swears to slay her.

Tsarmina poisons her father with the aid of Fortunata, and frames her brother Gingivere for the murder. She subsequently takes over the throne for herself and imprisons Gingivere. Meanwhile, Gonff the Mousethief is caught stealing from Kotir, and is thrown in prison with Martin. The two get acquainted, and Gonff tells the Martin of the Council of Resistance in Mossflower movement against Verdauga.

Martin and Gonff stage a daring escape; Tsarmina is alerted to their presence, and a harrowing chase begins. The pursuit leads to the mess hall, where Martin and Gonff jump out of the window.

During the commotion inside, the Corim task force outside Kotir witnesses a band of mice dressed in green robes walking straight for Kotir. Squirrel Queen Lady Amber shuttles them safely off to Brockhall.

Gonff and Martin land on the grass and are protected from projectiles by the dense tree branches. Lady Amber and her archers audaciously hold off the entire Kotir army. Their valiant efforts enable the Skipper of the otters and his otter crew to spirit Martin and Gonff away to Camp Willow. Tsarmina pursues them with some of her soldiers to the edge of the river, but loses the woodlanders.

Furious over the well-coordinated escape, she orders Brogg and Scratt to go back to Kotir to fetch The Gloomer. With the aid of a reluctant Fortunata, they bring Gloomer to the river to hunt down the fleeing otters. Skipper releases Stormfin, an enormous pike, into the water, and a vicious battle ensues. The water rat is overmastered by Stormfin and drowns. Tsarmina and her army are left with nothing but the laughter of the woodlanders as they vanish into the forest.

Subterfuge and Negotiation

At Brockhall, the Corim's headquarters, the woodlanders are properly introduced to the mice and their leader, Abbess Germaine. The Abbess happens to be an old friend of Bella of Brockhall. They are refugees from Loamhedge, an Abbey that was suddenly plagued by disease.

After dinner, Gonff proposes that the robin Chibb would be an ideal spy. Later that evening, woodlanders celebrate the successful rescue and Ferdy and Coggs, sons of Ben Stickle and Goody Stickle leave Brockhall, wanting to overrun Kotir.

The next morning, Bella and Martin discuss the predicament of the woodlanders during their morning stroll in the woods. The seasoned badger tells him about the mountain of fire lizards, Salamandastron, and its current ruler, her father Boar the Fighter. Upon their return to Brockhall, Bella arranges a search-and-rescue effort to find the two errant hedgehogs.

Unfortunately, Ferdy and Coggs have already been captured by a third Kotir search party under Captain Cludd. They undergo a terrifying interrogation by Tsarmina herself, but refuse to divulge any information. The young brothers are then thrown into the cells on either side of Gingivere's cell, and the kindly wildcat befriends them.

Journeying to Salamandastron

Bella, Martin, Gonff, and Dinny begin an exhausting search for a map to find the route to Salamandastron. They search among Brockhall's vast piles of dusty scrolls and records, but meet with little success until Martin accidentally discovers their first set of clues in a secret compartment. These clues lead to a poem, which is a map to Salamandastron in verse.

Martin, Gonff, and Dinny begin the first part of the journey to Salamandastron with a Corim force headed to Kotir. They part ways, and Kotir soldiers Splitnose, Scratch, and Blacktooth stealthily shadow the three adventurers. Just outside of Kotir, the woodlanders use Chibb to ferry bags of food to Ferdy and Coggs. They are soon spotted by Tsarmina and are ambushed. Lady Amber and Skipper's forces fire successive volleys of arrows and sling stones, delaying the slow, armored beasts of Kotir. All seems lost until Foremole provides an escape tunnel to Moledeep.

Summary of Book 2: Salamandastron

The Mask

Back in Mossflower, Skipper enlists the help of his brother Mask to free Gingivere, Ferdy, and Coggs from Kotir. Outside Brockhall, Columbine spots Fortunata, who is sent by Tsarmina to spy in the guise of a wandering healer. The young mouse hurries to Brockhall and alerts the Corim of the fox's presence.

Wandering aimlessly after the death of Scratch, Splitnose and Blacktooth stumble upon Gonff, Martin, and Dinny, who are sleeping on a river bank. The two villains tie them up and hold them captive while they devour all of the woodlanders' supplies. However, Gonff plays on their greed and causes them to fight over the food. Blacktooth is killed by Splitnose's spear and Splitnose falls into a pit hole.

At Brockhall, Mask disguises himself as a fox named Patchcoat and makes contact with Fortunata. Accompanied by Mask, she visits Brockhall and takes Spike and Posy (disguised as Ferdy and Coggs) into the woods under the pretext of gathering herbs. Mask gets Fortunata lost and brings her to a fork in the woods. He suggests that Fortunata should try one path and he another. Fortunata acquiesces and follows her path until arrows from Lady Amber and her archers halt her progress.

Meanwhile, Martin, Gonff, and Dinny attempt to cross a ford, but are ordered to pay a toll by a newt named Whipscale and a grass snake named Deathcoil. The two bullies are driven off by Log-a-Log Big Club of the Northwest Shrew Tribe.

They continue their quest with Log-a-Log on his ship the Waterwing until it wrecks by a waterfall. The unconscious Martin, Dinny, and Log-a-Log are rescued by Lord Cayvear and his tribe of bats and are taken to Bat Mountpit. It takes them only a few minutes to realize that Gonff is nowhere to be found. Their other problem is that the only exit to the cave is guarded by a hostile owl, which is more than a match for the whole bat tribe. Dinny utilizes his superior engineering skills to dislodge the owl's roost, effectively driving off the predatory bird.

The Rescue

Mask infiltrates Kotir and impresses Tsarmina, who demotes Captain Cludd. That night, the otter heads down to the cells and pretends to bring Gingivere to Tsarmina, while the hedgehogs are concealed under his voluminous cloak. Sore at his relegation, Cludd maliciously steps on Mask's fake tail to get back at him. The tail comes right off, and Cludd sounds the alarm.

The fugitives run across the parade ground, and Tsarmina fires an arrow directly at Gingivere. Gingivere bends over to pick up Coggs, and Mask takes the full force of Tsarmina’s arrow. The waiting Corim warriors boldly make a stand on the parade ground and slow the advance of Tsarmina’s army while the escapers dash into the woodlands. They are forced to retreat and wedge the gates shut to buy time for Mask, who is staggering painfully through the forest. Mask falls heavily and dies.

Enraged at his brother’s death, Skipper challenges Cludd to one-on-one combat as both armies watch on. The vengeful otter gains the upper hand and throws Cludd to his death onto several rows of double-ended otter javelins. The woodlanders, including Skipper, quickly disperse into the shadows of Mossflower. While this action takes place, Abbess Germaine, Columbine, and Old Dinny wander through the deserted fortress of Kotir, assessing its strengths and weaknesses. Deep in the lowest levels, they find a tunnel that leads out of Kotir and into Mossflower. Upon their return to Brockhall, Old Dinny proposes the flooding of Kotir through this tunnel, and the plan is met with sound approval.

Captured by Toads

After taking leave of Lord Cayvear and the bats, Martin, Log-a-Log, and Dinny travel to the Toadlands. The land is wreathed in fog, and they are surprised and captured. They are dragged to the toad king Marshgreen, who is flanked by none other than Whipscale and Deathcoil.

After an elaborate ceremony, the trio are released from the net and thrown into Screamhole, a large pit. They land with a splash into deep, muddy water and are rescued, to their astonishment, by Gonff. The mousethief hauls them up to a ledge in the pit with a vine; he explains that he was washed down the river, captured by Whipscale and Deathcoil, and thrown into the Screamhole. Gonff goes on to introduce them to Snakefish, a giant eel that will eat them all if he is not given food soon.

Tsarmina has been having dreams about being drowned and acts insane, prompting her advisor Ashleg to desert. The Queen appoints Brogg as captain in Cludd’s stead, and sets out alone to hunt Gingivere. As she wanders around Mossflower, she runs into Bane, a mercenary fox commanding sixty soldiers. Planning to take control of Kotir, Bane joins forces with Tsarmina and they attack the woodlanders digging the flood tunnels, inflicting heavy casualties. Lady Amber and Skipper launch a successful surprise attack on Kotir with fire arrows as retribution for their losses.

Huddled in the Screamhole with his three companions, Martin comes up with a plan. He has Dinny dig up to the surface and hang the net they were captured in over the side of the Screamhole. Snakefish hauls Martin, Gonff, and Log-a-Log up and dines on toads all night.

Boar the Fighter

Given directions by a cowed Marshgreen, the group cross an interminable area of sandy beach. After fighting off sea gulls and a fierce crab, they finally reach Salamandastron and meet Trubbs, Wother, and Ffring, who lead Martin and his friends to meet Boar the Fighter. They familiarize themselves with the mighty badger, who re-forges Martin's broken sword with metal from a star. Unfortunately, Ripfang comes to capture Salamandastron with his innumerable hordes of pirates. Martin, Dinny, Gonff, and Log-a-log help Boar fight the bloodthirsty corsairs, but they are badly outnumbered.

At Boar’s command, they break through the searat lines to capture the pirate flagship, Bloodwake. They find out that Boar had broken away from them to kill Ripfang; Boar urges Martin to escape and save Mossflower and dies from his grievous wounds. Sailing for Mossflower, Martin and his companions’ numbers are bolstered by former slaves (including Martin's childhood friend Timballisto) aboard Bloodwake, and Log-a-log’s long lost tribe.

In Kotir, the tensions between Tsarmina and Bane heighten after Lady Amber and Skipper’s attack. Tsarmina pretends to apologize to Bane, gives him Ashleg’s magnificent cloak, and asks him to inspect the gates. As soon as he goes outside, Tsarmina locks the gates and gleefully watches as he is pounced upon by Argulor. The eagle kills Bane, but dies from wounds inflicted by the fox’s curved sword.

Summary of Book 3: Of Water and Warriors

The Last Battle

The flooding of Kotir is going far too slowly, and the Corim believe that they must abandon that plan. However, Martin arrives with his force and sinks the Bloodwake in the middle of the river, diverting most of the water into the flood tunnels. Gonff is reunited with Columbine, and the newcomers to Mossflower get acquainted with the woodlanders.

The next day, Martin parleys with Tsarmina and delivers an ultimatum: if Tsarmina and her army are not out of Mossflower by noon, they will all be buried beneath the ruins of Kotir. Tsarmina treacherously attempts to slay the entire committee, but the woodlanders foil her efforts and bring down a number of her soldiers.

Tsarmina attempts a surprise attack on them, but Martin leads a force of hares, woodlanders, and freed slaves that overruns the wildcat’s troops. To show the woodlanders’ mercy, Martin allows the remainder of the force to slink back to Tsarmina. Later, the warrior mouse negotiates with Tsarmina again, asking her to leave Mossflower with her army. The Queen refuses and fires an arrow into Martin’s side, and the wounded mouse walks away, declaring that Kotir will be brought down stone by stone.

The next day, widespread consternation reigns in Kotir as the vermin discover that the lower levels are flooded. Most of Tsarmina’s soldiers desert and swim through the flooded valley to safety. Brogg and those that remain are crushed as Timballisto’s newly made ballista hurl huge boulders at the sunken fortress.

As Columbine and Abbess Germaine draw up plans for an Abbey called Redwall, Martin watches the progress of Tsarmina, who is floating to shore on a table. The warrior limps to the place of Tsarmina’s landing and hurls a few stinging insults at the former queen. Tsarmina reacts by joining the mouse in battle.

The Duel

Tsarmina rakes Martin’s back with her claws as he slashes away with his newly forged sword. Martin falls heavily to the ground, but miraculously manages to pull himself up and redouble the assault. The wildcat queen shoves him into the shallows, but her redoubtable foe slowly wades out and faces her with sword at the ready. The two opponents circle each other, and Tsarmina backs off, unaware that the water is behind her. She falls into the water and drowns as Martin collapses from his wounds.

As the pitiful remnants of the Kotir army are fished out of the water by the woodlanders, Dinny, Bella, and Gonff search for Martin. Seeing the signs of a great struggle, they find Martin more dead than alive, and realize that he is beyond Bella’s skill to treat.

Chibb is sent to tell Abbess Germaine to gather her medical supplies, and Bella races to Brockhall to pick her up, nearly killing herself with the exertion. With the frail Abbess on her back, she hurries back to Martin, who is speaking to Boar at the gates of the Dark Forest. The mouse falls into a coma, and finally wakes after twenty days of Columbine and Germaine’s care.

Celebration

Martin finds himself in the middle of a celebration, and is updated on all that has passed since his duel with Tsarmina. The ferrets, stoats, and rats have all been chased away from Mossflower, and Gonff and Columbine have been married.

In the epilogue, Bella finishes telling the story to Gonff, the grandson of Gonff and Columbine. She goes on to say that Martin hung up his sword and forsook the way of the warrior.

Characters in Mossflower

Awards

Winner:

  • Lancashire Libraries Children's Book of the Year Award
  • Western Australian Young Readers' Award

Nominated:

  • Carnegie Medal (1988)

Collector's Edition

Mossflowercollectors

Mossflower Collector's Edition

In 2004, Philomel re-released Mossflower in a new special collector's edition. The hardcover book is bound in leather with pictorial front board, gold gilt design, and sewn in ribbon page marker, with all new illustrations by David Elliot.


Translations

The Dutch translation by Annemarie Hormann is different from the original English language version. Some sections have been moved, like Bella's recounting of Verdauga's coming to Mossflower woods. In the Dutch version, she relates this story to Gonff's grandson, while in the original version she tells it to Abbess Germaine. Descriptive passages have been shortened and the final chapter has been removed.

Release details


Books in the Redwall Chronicles, by Brian Jacques

Redwall | Mossflower | Mattimeo | Mariel of Redwall | Salamandastron | Martin the Warrior | The Bellmaker | Outcast of Redwall | Pearls of Lutra | The Long Patrol | Marlfox | The Legend of Luke | Lord Brocktree | Taggerung | Triss | Loamhedge | Rakkety Tam | High Rhulain | Eulalia! | Doomwyte | The Sable Quean | The Rogue Crew

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