Marlfox (Redwall Series #11)

Marlfox (Redwall Series #11)

4.6 83
by Brian Jacques

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A villainous new presence is aprowl in Mossflower Woods—the Marlfoxes! In the 11th volume of the Redwall series, Brian Jacques offers an enchanting tale with brave new heroes and deliciously evil villains, weaving a literary spell for readers of all ages.

When three young residents of Redwall Abbey go on a quest to recover a tapestry stolen by the

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A villainous new presence is aprowl in Mossflower Woods—the Marlfoxes! In the 11th volume of the Redwall series, Brian Jacques offers an enchanting tale with brave new heroes and deliciously evil villains, weaving a literary spell for readers of all ages.

When three young residents of Redwall Abbey go on a quest to recover a tapestry stolen by the Marlfoxes, their bravery removes the curse of these evil animals on a lost island.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Once again a band of evil `vermin'-this time mysterious Marlfoxes, aided by water rats and ferrets-seeks to capture the Abbey of Redwall, in the 11th in the Redwall series," noted PW. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
The peace at Redwall is about to be broken with the appearance of the sly marlfoxes. Their Queen Silth has sent them from their remote island to locate a treasure for her. Her son Mokkan captures the tapestry of Martin the Warrior. When he returns home he discovers that his sister has replaced his mother as queen, and he sets out immediately to depose her. Meanwhile, Dann and Song, the young squirrels that had been on guard when Mokkan stole the tapestry believe they are destined to retrieve it. They set out on the journey and locate the island with help from some other forest creatures. Jacques continues his popular series with the elements that have been successful in past volumes: young protagonists on a swashbuckling quest, encouraging elders, delicious feasts, and poems that foretell the future and record the events. This can be read independently of the others in the series but devoted fans will not be disappointed. Jacques creates an inviting environment with the inhabitants of Redwall Abbey who display such respect and care for one another. His descriptions of the forest draw the reader into this little world.
VOYA - Bill Mollineaux
This eleventh book in the Redwall epic is a swashbuckling and spellbinding tale of adventure filled with all the ingredients: bravery, duplicity, friendship, suspense, murder, betrayal, revenge, and loyalty. When all this is mixed with unforgettable characters and scrumptious feasts, the result is mesmerizing. Without Abbot or Abbess and populated by the elders and the very young, Redwall Abbey is vulnerable to the six Marlfoxes, who are considered magic and supposedly can make themselves and their water rat allies invisible. The Marlfoxes are sent by their mother, Queen Silth, to plunder things of beauty for the Queen to surround herself with. Reinforced by hearty defenders, Redwallers repel numerous attacks, but during one of these attacks the great Redwall tapestry is stolen. While unconscious, one of the young defenders is spoken to by Redwall's founder, Martin the Warrior, and instructed that he and his two friends are to leave the Abbey to recover the tapestry. This mission-which takes them to Queen Silth's mysterious island-and the successful defense of Redwall are accomplished, of course, but not before a series of riveting adventures. The magic turns out to be Jacques's writing, which is crisp, detailed, well paced, and sprinkled with humor. Deftly switching back and forth among defenders, besiegers, the machinations on the island, and the quest of the three youthful heroes, Jacques has woven a real page-turner that will satisfy Redwall enthusiasts as well as recruit devoted newcomers. VOYA Codes: 5Q 5P M J (Hard to imagine it being better written, Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Marlfox! The name brings a chill to all of the good woodland creatures who hear it. From their silver white coats mottled with patches of black and bluish gray, to the axes they carry on their cloaked backs and their inexplicable ability to vanish into thin air, the Marlfoxes are creatures of superstition and legend. On a mission to procure treasure for their dangerously addled queen and mother, these crafty creatures lay siege to Redwall Abbey. Defended by a hodgepodge of creatures from old friends and proven fighters like Badgermum Cregga, to a traveling troupe of performers led by a flamboyant hare with delusions of grandeur, the abbey creatures hold their own-until the greatest treasure of all is stolen: the tapestry of Martin the Warrior. It is up to the next generation of warriors to "win their spurs" on an epic quest to recover the heart of the abbey. Guided by visions of the legendary Martin, the young squirrel Dann, hoping to live up to his brave father's expectations, leads his friends toward the castle fortress of the Marlfox queen. The four young heroes fight the good fight, and among the happy results are a new abbess, and a new champion for Redwall. Marlfox is a rollicking tale of bravery and honor and derring-do; much laughter, a few tears, lots of love, feasting, reunions, and self-discovery, all brought vividly to life with colorful detail and lively characterizations. "Redwall" fans and newcomers to the series alike will welcome this installment with a cheer.-Jennifer A. Fakolt, Denver Public Library
Andrew LeCount
A New Redwall!

Brian Jacques is a joy to read. A onetime longshoreman from Liverpool, England, Jacques never intended for his adventures to be published. According to an article that recently ran in The Wall Street Journal (April 9, 1998), Jacques would read his unpublished Redwall stories to a group of children at a local school for the blind. Never in a million years did he dream that his stories would reach an audience of millions. Writing these frothy adventures is something that Jacques simply enjoys doing, and it shows. The language is vibrant, the characters are extremely well developed, and the action is brisk and exciting. Marlfox, the 11th delightful volume in the Redwall series, is certainly no exception.

Before continuing, let me make something perfectly clear. Even though Marlfox is the 11th Redwall volume, don't shy away from Jacques's latest simply because you haven't read him before. Each Redwall is a freestanding adventure. This reviewer had never read Jacques prior to Marlfox and enjoyed it wholeheartedly.

Now on to the story. Marlfox begins when the Swifteyes, a family of traveling squirrels, stop to take a break. When Janglur, the father of the family and an ace with the woodpipe, coaxes his lovely daughter Songbreeze to sing with him a tune, two savage beasts are -- without the Swifteyes' knowledge -- an attentive audience. The visitors are Marlfoxes, vicious ax-wielding vermin who many believe possess magical powers, while others discount them as only the stuff of legend. The Marlfoxes, brothers and sisters named Ascrod and Vannan, hear the melodious wonder wafting through the air and decide that they must retrieve this talent for their wicked Queen Silth, a tyrannical ruler who constantly nags her underlings that she must constantly be "surrounded by beauty."

In addition to being a deft musician, Janglur is also a cunning warrior. So after Ascrod and Vannan fail to intimidate Janglur into giving them what they want through speech, Janglur is far too prepared for the inevitable Marlfox strike. After both intruders are injured and disappear almost magically into the forest, Janglur alters his family's plans: It is on to Redwall to warn the others of the Marlfox presence.

Around the same time, in another part of the forest, a lighthearted group of stage performers known as the Sensational Wandering Noonvale Companions Troupe endure a similar experience and luckily escape their Marlfox foe. Florian Dugglewoof (don't ever call him a rabbit -- he's a hare) Wilffachop, the troupe's leader, decides that it's off to Redwall as well. Only if the good critters of Redwall stand together will they defeat their present and most evil threat.

Protected by the solid walls of Redwall Abbey, the Redwallers appear to be safe from any Marlfox invasion. But when Dwopple, a pesky little mousebabe who specializes in making trouble and driving Florian up the wall, is kidnapped by the Marlfoxes, war is unavoidable. As a fierce battle rages in which many are brutally slain, a sly force of Marlfoxes infiltrates Redwall Abbey and lifts the prized Redwall tapestry right from under the Redwallers' noses. Song, a Guosim shrew named Dippler, and a young squirrel named Dann feel responsible for the lost treasure, and after Dann sees a vision from the great Martin the Warrior, the three decide to go out on their own to retrieve their lost treasure.

Along the way Song, Dippler, and Dann make many new friends, are introduced to many new enemies, and face many challenging and deadly tasks. It's truly a wonderful and memorable ride. For preteens who enjoyed Lloyd Alexander's The Book of Three and Mrs. Frisby And the Rats of Nimh, and for adults who adore Tolkien and entertaining fantasy in general, Brian Jacques's Marlfox is a must-read. Dramatic and sincere, generally light but at times dark and serious, the Redwall series is a modern-day classic, and I'll say it again, an utter joy to read. Like the Redwallers with their scones with honey on top, this is fantasy adventure that both preteens and adults will gobble up. Highly recommended.
— Andrew LeCount,

From the Publisher
A grand adventure story . . . breathtaking. (Chicago Sun-Times)

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Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Redwall Series, #11
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Meet the Author

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
June 15, 1939
Date of Death:
February 5, 2011
Place of Birth:
Liverpool, England
Place of Death:
Liverpool, England
St. John¿s School, Liverpool, England

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Eternally serene, the moon ruled over star-strewn vaults of cloudless sable night, like a round shield of flecked amber, casting pale light to the earth below. Vagrant breezes from the distant sea drifted idly through Mossflower Wood's southwest margins, cooling the heavy warmth a bright summer day had left in its wake.

Janglur Swifteye sat at the edge of a well-worn trail, his back against the broad trunk of a fallen elm, savoring the calm summer night. He was an unusual squirrel, half as tall again as most of his species, with dark terra-cotta fur, untypically long and thick. A huge bush of tail added to the impression of his size. Beneath the fur Janglur's limbs were hefty and robust, with a stomach of considerable girth, which his mother constantly chided him about. His eyes were hooded and long-lashed, giving the impression he was always half asleep. However, anybeast who knew Janglur Swifteye was careful not to be fooled by his air of easygoing idleness. He was renowned as a quick and dangerous warrior, immensely strong and wise in the ways of battle. But there was another side to him: he was also an obedient son, a dutiful husband and a fond father. In the woodlands behind him his family slept in their little traveling tent, his mother Ellayo, his wife Rimrose and Songbreeze, the daughter who was the apple of her father's eye.

From beneath half-closed lids Janglur Swifteye watched, missing nothing. Clusters of flowering dock nodded lightly against gnarled oak trunks, orange-berried arums and spiking flowered sedge swayed lazily between elder, chestnut and sycamore trees, nocturnal insects trundled or winged their various ways through the darkened forest. From somewhere deep in the thickets a nightingale warbled its short rich trill. Janglur whistled a reply to it on his reed flute, aware that somebeast was creeping up behind him. The only move he made was to blink away a midge from his eyelashes. He knew who the intruder was by the way she approached. Janglur chuckled.

"I hear ye, missie. Couldn't sleep, eh?"

His daughter Songbreeze climbed slowly over the elm trunk and slid down beside him.

"Nobeast could ever surprise you, old Swifteye. Phew! It's far too hot t'sleep and Grandma's snoring like a score of hedgehogs after a feast."

Janglur winked lazily at her. "Huh, listen who's talkin'. Y'should hear yourself snorin' some nights, drowns yore grandma's poor efforts out completely."

She shoved her father playfully. "I do not! Young squirrelmaids don't snore, ask Mum."

Janglur snorted softly. "Y'mother's worse'n both of you put together."

The nightingale warbled its short melody again. Janglur picked up his reed flute. "Listen t'that feller, thinks he can sing. Come on, Song, show him." No creature who knew the tall pretty squirrel ever used her full name.

Janglur played a brief introduction, then Song's voice rang out with such sweetness and clarity that a tear coursed its way down her father's cheek. Her voice never failed to move him.

"Flow'rs of the forest
Are bright in the spring,
Wake with the dawn
Here a lone skylark sing.
Brooks gaily babble
O'er hillsides so green,
Streams ripple secrets
Of what they have seen,
Small birds give voice
Mid the leaves of great trees,
Which rustle softly
In time with the breeze.
I'll add my music
For what it is worth,
And sing just for you, love,
The song of earth."

As the last plaintive notes died away, Janglur put aside his flute and wiped a paw quickly across his eyes. Song nudged him gently.

"Big tough warrior, eh, crying again."

Her father sniffed aloud, looking away from her. "Don't be silly. 'Twas just a midge went in me eye, but I couldn't play for you an' wipe it out at the same time, had to wait till you were finished singin'."

In another part of the woodland two foxes ceased their prowl through the undergrowth and listened to the sweet, plaintive melody floating faintly on the night air. Both beasts were identical; apart from the fact they were brother and sister they were alike in every other aspect. Ascrod and his sister Vannan were Marlfoxes, pale-eyed, with strange silver-white coats heavily mottled with patches of black and bluey gray. They wore swirling cloaks of drab brown and green weave. Ascrod's lips scarcely moved as he muttered to his sister: "That singer warbles more sweetly than any bird I ever heard!"

Vannan's pale eyes glimmered in the moonlight. "Aye, brother, and would trill even better at the court of our mother Queen Silth. Come on!"

In the space of a breath both Marlfoxes were gone, melted back into the night-shaded forest like tendrils of smoke on the wind.

Song plucked a blade of grass and tickled her father's eartip. "Big old softie. Come on, play a lively tune and I'll put a smile back on your face, eh?"

But Janglur was not paying attention to her. He stiffened, both ears twitching as he sniffed the breeze. Song caught the urgency of his mood.

"What is it? Can you hear something?"

Janglur's hooded eyes flicked. He watched the trees on the opposite side of the path, talking quietly, not looking at his daughter as he continued scanning the woodlands. "Go quick t'yore mamma, Song, an' tell 'em t'be silent. An' stay put! Hurry now!"

Song had seen her father like this before. She knew better than to stop and argue with him. Wordlessly, she slipped away to the tent.

Janglur took a dangerous-looking thorn dart, tufted with dried grass, from his belt pouch. Placing the missile in his mouth, he tucked it against one cheek, then sat back against the elm trunk. Idly he began playing his reed flute. Outwardly the big squirrel appeared calm, but inside he was poised like lightning ready to strike. In a short while he made out the two foxes moving expertly from a patch of fern to the cover of some bushes, coming closer to him by the moment. Janglur took the flute from his lips, calling out sternly, "Quit sneakin' about an' walk on the path like decent creatures!"

Ascrod and Vannan had thought the squirrel was unaware of their approach. They hid their surprise by putting on a bold front, swaggering up to where Janglur sat. Ascrod kicked the squirrel's footpaw, just hard enough to warn him that he and his sister were well in charge of the situation.

"You there, who was that singing a short while ago?"

Janglur did not bother to look up at Ascrod, though his voice was menacingly low. "None o' yore business, snipenose. Now get goin', an' take that other one with ye!"

Vannan winked at her brother and smiled nastily as her paw began to stray toward the single-bladed ax she carried beneath her cloak. Janglur appeared to ignore them, and went back to playing his flute. Ascrod leaned close to the squirrel, baring his teeth.

"You're very insolent for a fat lazy squirrel. Shall I show you what we do to beasts with insulting tongues?"


Janglur Swifteye shot the dart from his flute, burying it deep in the tip of Ascrod's nose. As the fox shrieked out in agony, Janglur sprang upright. Whipping forth a loaded sling from around his waist, he hurled himself upon Vannan, who had her ax halfway out. She went down in an unconscious heap as the hard oval river pebble in the sling's tongue thwacked heavily across her skull. Ascrod was hopskipping about wildly, both paws clapped across his muzzle as he screeched with pain.

"Yeeeeeeek! Yaaaaarreeeeek!"

"Tails'n'scuts preserve us all! Who's kickin' up that awful din?"

Shaking with anger, Janglur turned to see his family dashing toward him, with Ellayo in the lead, brandishing a blackthorn stick.

Janglur stared accusingly at his daughter. "Song, I thought I told you to stay put an' keep 'em quiet?"

Rimrose placed herself between them. "'Tweren't no fault o' Song's. You jus' try stoppin' that ole mamma of yours when she starts swingin' that stick!"

Janglur's paw shot out. He caught the tip of his mother's stick and held it tight.

Heaving on the blackthorn and stumbling on her long apron hem, the old squirrelwife berated her son. "Leggo o' me stick, y'great boulder-bellied tree-walloper, leggo or I'll spank ten seasons' daylights out of ye!"

Song giggled and clapped her paws. "That's the stuff, Grandma. You give him a good spankin'!"

Rimrose wagged a paw at her daughter. "That'll be quite enough o'that, missie. Show some proper respect for yore elders!" Then, unable to prevent herself, she fell against Song, laughing helplessly. "Oh, heeheehee! It'd be a funny sight to see yore grandma givin' that great lump a spank or two! Heehee!"

Grandma Ellayo let go of the stick and turned on Song and Rimrose, attempting to look fierce as she hid a smile. "Hah! Don't you two think I couldn't tan his tail if'n I took a mind to do it. I'm still his mother, y'know!"

Janglur lifted his mother clear of the ground, hugging her fondly. "You can skelp the fur off'n me anytime ye wants to, my lovely ole barkbelter. Why, I'll bet y'could-"

Song interrupted suddenly. "Look! The foxes are gone."

All that remained of the Marlfoxes' visit was a few drops of blood from Ascrod's muzzle, glistening darkly amid the disturbed dust of the path. Janglur peered into the dark woodlands. "Aye, they've got away somehow. Won't catch 'em now, they've vanished." He put a paw about his daughter's shoulders. "Mark what I say, Song. They're Marlfoxes, strange blood runs in their veins. They can disappear like no other livin' creature."

"C'mon, ladies, we best break camp an' get travelin'."

Janglur's family had been wanderers since he was in his infancy, and breaking camp was a simple affair to them. Once the canvas they used as a tent had been folded, their few cooking implements were rolled in it to form a backpack. In the predawn light they breakfasted on clear streamwater and a traveling fruit and honey cake that Rimrose had baked two days before.

"Grandma, what's a Marlfox?" asked Song, between mouthfuls.

Ellayo tried to explain. "The story goes back a long ways-'tis far too long to tell in a short time. But I'll tell ye this much, missie. Somewhere there's a forgotten lake, a great stretch o' deep water, almost an inland sea somebeasts say. That's where the Marlfoxes live, an' the most cunning of 'em all, if'n she still lives, is Queen Silth. Aye, they call her the most powerful magic creature alive. 'Tis said her island is a place o' great riches an' beauty. I heard all this from a poor creature who was set upon by a bunch of magpies while fishing off the island."

Ellayo fell silent, and Janglur said, "Don't bother your grandma further, Song. If Marlfoxes are loose in the land y'may learn more than you bargained for. Pick up that linen now, we need t'be travelin'. North an' east a touch, I reckon."

Song folded the small tablecloth, which she had embroidered herself. "What lies in that direction, Father?"

Janglur shouldered the tentpack, settling it comfortably on his back. "The Abbey of Redwall."

The young squirrellmaid's eyes grew wide with delight. She had never visited there, though she had heard tales of the fabulous place. "Redwall Abbey! How wonderful! Oh, Mamma, will it be as nice as you told me it was when I was little?"

Rimrose smiled at her daughter's excitement. "Even nicer, I imagine. Words can't fully describe a place like Redwall."

Song took Grandma Ellayo's paw, supporting her as they walked. With Janglur in the lead, they set off as dawn was breaking. It promised to be another hot summer day, but the tree canopy was thick and would shade them as the sun rose higher. Song could not resist a final question to her father. "Why are we going to Redwall?"

Janglur tucked the reed flute into his broad belt. "Because we must warn whoever rules at the Abbey that there are Marlfoxes roaming the land."

Reprinted from Marlfox by Brian Jacques by permission of Ace Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright ©2000 by Brian Jacques. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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