The Barnes & Noble Review
Well before the Harry Potter phenomenon took flight, Brian Jacques solidified his place in the young adult fantasy canon with his wildly successful Redwall series. And like J. K. Rowling's Potter books,
Redwall immediately found an a much wider audience -- legions of adult fans anxiously await each of Jacques's new releases.
Such broad appeal is a testament to Jacques's finely honed technique and hair-raising story lines, but also to his refusal to sugarcoat completely. While humor and cuteness are very much a part of his storytelling, Jacques's bad guys, always wonderfully evil, ensure that violence -- and with it, plenty of suspense -- are constants in his world.
Taggerung is the 14th novel to feature the woodland creatures of Redwall, and it's one of the master craftsman's finest. It tells the story of Deyna, an otter who, shortly following his birth, is kidnapped by a savage clan of vermin. The babe is taken from his loving Redwall home because the clan's leader -- the bloodthirsty ferret, Sawney Rath -- believes Deyna is their Taggerung, the chosen one destined to lead them to greater prosperity.
Fifteen seasons pass, and Deyna (now called Tagg) is a cunning hunter, but he has not adopted his "father's" lust for inflicting pain and torment on his fellow earth-dwellers. This unsettling "weakness" has not gone unnoticed by Sawney Rath. When Sawney commands Tagg to skin an old fox alive, Tagg refuses, decides he's had enough, and abandons the clan and the only family he's ever known. Outraged, Sawney bolts after Tagg, but his anger blinds him to other dangers. Orchestrated by the devious fox-Seer Grissoul and the power-hungry stoat Antigra, Antigra's son, Zann, becomes the clan's puppet leader and sets off with a vicious band of assassins to capture the crown, which Zann cannot officially own while Tagg lives. A sometimes bloody, often funny, and consistently engrossing story ensues.
Imaginative and exquisitely drawn, Taggerung is a tremendous addition to Jacques's series. Newcomers and seasoned fans alike will be thoroughly entertained. (Andrew LeCount)
Redwall lovers, rejoice! The epic continues with Taggerung, the 14th book in Brian Jacques's popular series. An otter born in Redwall Abbey is kidnapped by members of an opposing clan who believe he is destined to be a great Taggerung, or warrior hero; Tagg later rebels against his adoptive tribe and goes in search of his true home. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Another entry in the Redwall series, this novel follows a new character, an otter named Deyna who is kidnapped and later adopts the persona of the Taggerung, the chosen one of the vermin Juska clan. After the loss of her brother, Deyna's sister Mhera seeks diversion by following a series of clues, cast as riddles, which eventually lead her to accept the role as abbess of Redwall. Events continue to conspire to reunite the separated siblings in this tale of the nature of good and evil and the joy of redemption. The Taggerung is reunited with his family, and his tattoos identifying his adoptive clan are removed. For regular readers of the Redwall series, this is a quick-paced, enjoyable book despite its length. Since the main characters are all new to the series, readers who have not read previous books will also enjoy it. 2001, Philomel Books/Penguin Putnam,
Peter von Marensdorff
Things have been quiet around Redwall Abbey of late. Since the Abbess Song died many seasons ago, there has been no need for a replacement. Ruling through benign neglect as much as the force of her personality, the aging but still formidable Cregga Badgermum makes sure that all the chores get done on a daily basis. Moreover, there has been no need for a Champion, such as Martin the Warrior, although his sword still hangs in the Great Hall for use in time of need. It is a comfortable life for the creatures of the Abbey, secure behind their walls from the vermin that prowl the woods. Everyone is happyat least until the otter Rillflag fails to return from introducing his newborn son, Deyna, to the nearby river. Unbeknownst to the Redwallers, the otter has been murdered and his son taken captive by Sawney Rath, a vicious ferret who leads one of the more dangerous vermin clans. Rath has decided that young Deyna is destined to become the Taggerung, or great leader of his clan, and he adopts the baby, hoping to turn the young otter into a monstrous copy of himself. This fourteenth Redwall novel is one of the longest, due in large part to the two separate and equally elaborate plot lines that Jacques must keep in motion. The Redwall plot features the author's trademark high good humor, scrumptious meals, and complex relationships, while the Taggerung plot line centers on Rath's increasing ferocity and Deyna's refusal to be corrupted by him. The two stories come together in the end in a satisfying if somewhat violent dénouement that should well please Jacques's legion of fans. Reviewer: Michael Levy
This is the 14th book in a much-loved fantasy/action series about a world of both brave and villainous animals. Here omens reveal that a Taggerung, a creature that is "a talisman of great power," has been born in Redwall Abbey. A band of vermin, "dry-land pirates," snatches this young otter. They raise him to be a warrior and a thief, but he takes off to seek his own adventures, with loyal friends at his side, and find his way back to Redwall Abbey. Lots of battle scenes, humor, British slang, and reversals of fortune here; as the prologue puts it, "Sadness and joy, comedy and tragedy, a good dose of rousing action." This volume can stand on its own, for those not yet acquainted with the series. For all libraries. KLIATT Codes: JSARecommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; September 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 5)
School Library Journal
Here's book 14 in the Redwall dynasty, and Jacques shows no sign of flagging. As in the last book, the story is framed as a recounting of deeds of derring-do and high adventure. A baby otter is kidnapped by the vermin horde, whose leader believes him to be the epic hero Taggerung. As the otter grows, he runs away from his evil foster clan and, with the help of many good friends, particularly the harvest mouse Nimbalo, he finally makes his way home to Redwall. Supporting this plot are the two pillars of Redwall literature-food and those amazing accents. The English Public School hares, with their "laddie bucks" and "wots?" are of course fabulous, as are the nearly unintelligible moles and hedgehogs. Who can resist a story that is constantly carrying on about deeper'n'ever beet and hotroot pie, hot scones, and watershrimp soup? The fact that fans will devour this book is doubtless. As with all the other titles in the series, no prior knowledge of Redwall and its denizens is needed to ensure enjoyment. However, having read this one, new fans will undoubtedly be back for seconds and thirds.-Patricia A. Dollisch, DeKalb County Public Library, Decatur, GA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Otters star in the 14th Redwall adventure (The Legend of Luke), holding the line against evil in their make-believe world. This time the wild vermin Juskarath believe a baby has been born that will become the "Taggerung," a legendary fighter who can empower their tribe. The baby belongs to domesticated otters at Redwall, so the Juskarath steal the cub. Raised as a savage, "Tagg" indeed becomes a fearsome warrior, but his virtuous nature triumphs over his barbarous nurturing and he refuses to kill. Tagg leaves the Juskarath and teams up with Nimbalo, a tough little fightin' mouse. The two trek about the land, making friends and battling evil. They're trailed by the menacing Juskarath until all meet at Redwall Abbey for the final showdown. Meanwhile, Tagg's sister Mhera and the old badgermum Cregga preside over the constant feasting at the Abbey, pondering puzzles until the otter family is reunited. Readers of all ages who enjoy fantasy can happily lose themselves in Redwall's cozy world, where they'll enjoy zestful fights, lengthy descriptions of scrumptious food, and endearing animals speaking in thick dialects. Jacques's characters vibrate with personality, and he clearly delineates the differences between a life of friendship and one of savagery. It's great fun, and not just for Redwall fans. (Fiction. 10+)
From the Publisher
Redwall lovers, rejoice! The epic continues! (Publishers Weekly)
Read an Excerpt
The clan of Sawney Rath could feel their fortunes changing, much for the better. Grissoul had predicted it would be thus, and the vixen was seldom wrong. Only that day the clan foragers had caught a huge load of mackerel that had strayed into the shallows of the incoming tide. Fires blazed in the scrubland beyond the dunes that evening, as the fish, skewered on green withes, blistered and popped over the flames. Sawney was not as big as other ferrets, but he was faster, smarter and far more savage than any stoat, rat, weasel, fox or ferret among his followers. Anybeast could lay claim to the clan leadership, providing they could defeat Sawney in combat, but for a long time none had dared to. Sawney Rath could fight with a ferocity that was unequaled, and he never spared the vanquished challengers. Sawney's clan were nomads, sixty all told, thieves, vagrants, vagabonds and tricksters who would murder and plunder without hesitation. They were Juska.
Many bands of Juska roamed the coasts, woodlands and byways, but they never formed a united force, each choosing to go its own way under a strong Chieftain. This leader always tacked his name on to the Juska title, so that Sawney's clan came to be known as the Juskarath. Though they were little more than dry-land pirates, Juska vermin had quite a strict code of conduct, which was governed by seers, omens and superstition.
Sawney sat beneath the awning of his tent, sipping a vile-tasting medication that his seer Grissoul had concocted to ease the stomach pains that constantly dogged him. He watched the clan, noting their free and easy mood. Sawney smiled as some of the rats struck up a song. Rats were easily pleased; once they had a full stomach and a flagon of nettle beer they would either sing or sleep. Sawney was only half watching the rats, his real attention focused upon the stoat Antigra. She lay nursing her newborn, a son called Zann. Sawney could tell Antigra was feigning slumber from the hate-laden glances she threw his way when she thought he was not looking. Sawney Rath's eyes missed very little of what went on around him. He pulled a face of disgust as he sniffed the mixture of feverfew and treacle mustard in the cup he held, and, spitting into the fire, he muttered the newborn stoatbabe's name.
Grissoul the Seer stole up out of the gathering darkness and placed a steaming plate of food by his side. He glanced up at the vixen. She was an odd-looking fox, even for a seer. She wore a barkcloth cloak that she had covered in red and black symbols, and her brow, neck and limbs were almost invisible under bracelets of coral, brass and silver. About her waist she wore a belt from which hung a broad pouch and bones of all kinds. One of her eyes was never still.
Sawney tipped the plate with his footpaw. "Am I supposed to eat this mess?"
She smiled coaxingly. "Yar, 'tis the mackerel without skin or bone, stewed in milkweed and dock. Thy stomach'll favor it!"
The ferret drew from his belt a lethally beautiful knife, straight-bladed, razor sharp, with a brilliant blue sapphire set into its amber handle. Delicately he picked up a morsel of fish on the knife point, and tasted it.
"This is good. I like it!"
Grissoul sat down beside him. "None can cook for thee like I." She watched him eating awhile before speaking again.
"Th'art going to ask me about the Taggerung, I feel it."
Sawney picked a sliver of fish from between his teeth. "Aye. Have there been any more signs of the Taggerung?"
Antigra interrupted by leaping up and thrusting her baby forward at them. "Fools!" she shouted defiantly. "Can't you see, my Zann is the Taggerung!"
The entire camp fell silent. Creatures turned away from their cooking fires to see what would happen. Sawney stood up, one paw holding his stomach, the other pointing the knife at Antigra.
"If you were not a mother nursing a babe you would be dead where you stand. Nobeast calls Sawney Rath a fool!"
Antigra was shaking with rage. The baby stoat had set up a thin wail, but her voice drowned it out.
"I demand you recognize my son as Taggerung!"
Sawney gritted his teeth. Thrusting the dagger back into his belt he turned aside, snarling at Grissoul. "Tell that stoat why her brat cannot be called Taggerung!"
Grissoul stood between them, facing Antigra, and took a starling's skull, threaded on thin twine, from her belt. She swung it in a figure of eight until the air rushing through the eye and beak sockets made a shrieking whistle.
"Hearken, Antigra, even a long-dead bird can mock thee. Shout all thou like, 'twill not make thine offspring grow to be the Taggerung. You it is who are a fool! Can thou not see the omens are all wrong? Even though you call him Zann, which means Mighty One, he will never be the chosenbeast. I see all. Grissoul knows, take thou my word now. Go back to your fire and nurse the babe, and be silent, both of ye!"
Antigra held the newborn stoat up high, shaking the babe until it wailed even more loudly. "Never!" she cried.
Sawney winced as his stomach gave a sharp twinge. He turned upon the stoat mother, roaring dangerously, "Enough! You have heard my Seer: the omens are wrong. Zann can never be called Taggerung. Unless you want to challenge me for the leadership of the clan and change the Juskarath law to suit yourself, I command you to silence your scolding tongue and speak no more of the matter!"
He turned and went into his tent, but Antigra was not prepared to let the matter lie. Everybeast heard her shout after him: "Then you are challenged, Sawney Rath!"
His stomach pains immediately forgotten, the ferret Chieftain emerged from the tent, a half-smile hovering around his slitted eyes. Vermin who had seen that look before turned away. Only Antigra faced him as he asked quietly, "So, who challenges me?"
He saw the creature, even before Antigra replied, "Gruven, the father of Zann!"
Gruven stepped forth from the shadows. In one hefty paw he carried a small round shield, in the other a tall slim spear, its point shining in the firelight. He struck a fighting stance, his voice loud and clear.
"I challenge you, Sawney Rath. Arm yourself and face me!"
Sawney had always liked Gruven. He was a valuable asset to the clan. Big, strong, but not too intelligent. Sawney shook his head and smiled patronizingly.
"Don't do it, Gruven. Don't listen to your mate. Put the spear and shield down; live to see your son grow up."
Antigra whispered something to Gruven that seemed to embolden him. He circled away from her, jabbing the spear in Sawney's direction. "I'll live to see my son become Taggerung. Now fight like a Juska, or die like a coward!"
Sawney shrugged off the insult. "As you wish." He turned, as if to fetch his weapons from the tent, then half swung back, as though he had forgotten to say something to the challenger. "Oh, er, Gruven . . ."
There was a deadly whirr as the knife left Sawney's paw. Gruven coughed slightly, a puzzled look on his face, then fell backward, the blade buried in his throat up to its decorative handle. Sawney finished what he had been saying. "Don't ever hold your shield low like that, it's a fatal mistake. Grissoul, I'll see you in my tent."
Ignoring Antigra's wails, Sawney beckoned the vixen to sit beside him. "What have you seen?"
Grissoul emptied her bag of stones, shells and bones on the ground, nodding sagely. "See thou, my omens have fallen the same since the end of the last rain. Our Taggerung is born at last. There are other Juska clans abroad in the land, and any of these would deem it a great honor to count him as one of them. Such a beast is a talisman of great power. The Taggerung can change the fortunes of a clan. Nobeast is mightier; none can stand before a Taggerung. Long seasons have passed since such a warrior lived. Who would know this better than thee, Sawney, for was not thine own father the chosen one? Ah, those were glorious days. Our clan was the largest and most feared then. Everybeast had to bow their heads to your father. Zann Juskarath Taggerung! Can you not remember the respect he commanded wherever we went-"...