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THIS NEWS POSTING CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS REGARDING The Sable Quean
- '"Raised on two steps was a broad stone seat covered with soft mosses, dried grass and rugs made from the fur of beasts. Lounging gracefully upon it was a creature of barbaric beauty. Her fur was shining black and thick, with undertones of rich, dark brown. She was slender of limb, but lithe and strong. Her nosetip and ears were a dainty pink; her eyes, with a slight almond curve, glittered like two dark jewels. Beneath a fine silken cloak of regal purple, a necklace of snake fangs adorned her elegant neck..."
- ―Description of Vilaya, from The Sable Quean
The Sable Quean is the third tale of Redwall to be titled after the central villain/group of villains, and the first consecutive villain-named book in the Redwall saga. Brian Jacques continues to demonstrate his prowess for transforming his typewriter into a massive lexical paint brush.
Buckler Kordyne, Blademaster for the Long Patrol, is bored with the uniformity of Salamandastron life. The ruling Badger Lord recommends an errand to Mossflower country and Redwall Abbey, perhaps to find some adventure! Buckler locates his gluttonous comrade Diggs, and together they begin a treacherous trek into turmoil.
At Redwall, the Abbey-goers are attempting to nominate one of their own to become the official Redwall Bard, when some Dibbuns go missing in Mossflower Woods. The peaceful creatures soon learn that the Commander of the Ravagers, Zwilt the Shade (a sneaky sable who is only visible if he wants you to see him), is kidnapping babes throughout the region by order of his leader, Vilaya, the Sable Quean, in an attempt to force the Redwallers into an exchange: the lives of their loved ones for the Abbey.
But Zwilt is a military-minded beast...and would actually prefer to conquer Redwall by means of war.
And where are they keeping the young ones? No one knows for sure, but perhaps the Corim can provide a clue.
The search for the babes and ultimate fate of Redwall Abbey is revealed within Brian Jacques' latest Redwall effort!
Let's start with Troy Howell's latest cover: That is our hero Buckler Kordyne engaged in battle with Zwilt the Shade. There have been questions in regards to the sword Zwilt is carrying, mainly due to the size. While he did not steal it from a Badger Lord, it was likely forged by one. I find that Howell's Buckler is similar to his illustration of Basil Stag Hare for the Tenth Anniversary edition of Redwall (feathered cap, red coat), however the actual hare itself feels more streamlined, and I like it.
Overall, I enjoyed The Sable Quean. Something I found to be a bit different was that it seemed like there were not as many riddles or songs as there tends to be in a Redwall novel; nevertheless, I don't feel like this detracted from the storyline at all. Chronologically, the book has to take place after Doomwyte. Similar to the last book, there are no references to previous events at the Abbey or recent novels, however characters and places from a much earlier time receive a few mentions. Interestingly, this makes those who answered our April poll correct! There are 32 chapters in the advance.
Several fans have commented that the plot of The Sable Quean sounds like a repeat of Mattimeo. Let me end that right now, because the book is nothing like Mattimeo. This is a totally new story and doesn't involve slavery or far-off journeys whatsoever. The setting is mainly based in or around Mossflower.
While the tale was a good yarn, I would have preferred a little bit more character background information on Vilaya, as I felt that there just wasn't enough. Obviously I don't think younger fans will mind this though. Just like Zwilt the Shade, she is of the sable species, which is related to the marten. And she's a bit tougher than she looks too.
Now let's discuss Sean Rubin's interior art. As I stated before, his artwork is limited in the advance proof, as it has not all been inserted. However, what is included thus far is great, and very detailed. His methodology was pencil drawings, and they very much resemble the style of his audiobook covers. Unfortunately, his rendition of Vilaya is not in this proof, so I can't reveal what she looks like in that regard. Sean's book plates consist of geometrical motifs that reflect the main action within that section, rather than an actual large illustration.
As you can see, I've peppered various chapter icons around the article; among these are Sean's rendition of the Tapestry, some Guosim archer shrews, and some weapons. I can't wait to see what else Sean has done when the book is published in its completed form.
- As was rumored last month, I can confirm that the Dibbuns Against Bedtime make their third appearance in a Redwall novel, which is also their first consecutive Redwall appearance.
- There is a grey character within this novel.
- There are no far-off lands.
- There is a performing troupe.
- Axtel Sturnclaw is our mole warrior, and he wields a war hammer!
The Sable Quean is currently scheduled for publication on February 23, 2010 in the US. Be sure to check it out next spring!
- Note: it must be stated that the quoted excerpt at the beginning of this review is
- from the advance, uncorrected proof of the novel, and that final changes to this draft
- may be made before publication of the final book.
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