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Why the subplots?

Argulor May 23, 2013 User blog:Argulor

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A good story is something that needs to stick the main storyline, without getting sidetracked by things that are of little to no relevance. Yet, Brian Jacques' books, which are generally regarded as good stories, seem to do the exact opposite.

This was nicely averted in his first two books. Yes, he would show what different characters were up to. But they always connected back to the main storyline, the first being Cluny's siege on the Abbey and the Redwallers' mission to drive him away, and the second being Tsarmina's reign on Mossflower, and what the woodlander's would do to stop her. Admittedly, there was something of a side-story here, but it was relevant in that it led to the woodlanders trusting Gingivere, the first real grey character of the series. Characters like these, who frequently appear throughout the series are often favorites among fans, despite insistant from Jacques himself that everything is black and white in his universe.

Back to the main topic. The first two books managed to avert subplots mainly, but it was with 1989's Mattimeo that Jacques seemingly felt he did not have enough material to comprise an entire book, or else wanted to give the Abbeydwellers more "screentime". Either way, a raven named General Ironbeak shows up in the middle of the book with his horde, a storyline very similar to that of the first book, and which had nothing to do with this one.

1991's Mariel of Redwall offered another subplot that was, again, almost identical to that of the first. And again, it didn't do anything to move the main story along; rather, Jacques seemed unwilling to not give his abbey characters screentime.

Salamandastron was an improvement in that it's subplot featured a threat to the Abbey unlike any that had previously been introduced. Still, Brian was depending on a side-story.

Martin the Warrior was the first since Mossflower not to have one, and there was much rejoicing.

Sadly, The Bellmaker took this down. While it did include a grey character, it was a waste of time.

And even Veil Sixclaw's storyline, despite being that of the title character, was something of this in the next book.

Perhaps Jacques saw this problem, and toned it down a bit in the books that followed. Still, this goes to show that not only was he a generic writer whose once thrilling series of books became monotonous, but that he sure did depend on filler.

What do you think?

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