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for Dusktail: A Tale of Redwall

1/31/2019 c16 Sauron Gorthaur
(FFN is telling me I've already submitted a review for this chapter and is not letting me post, so I've resorted to posting this as a guest.)

Well, here we are, on the far side of the infamous Chapter 16 and the first arc of “Dusktail.” Both you and I know the enormous amount of work that you put into draft after draft of this chapter, and all that work really shows, I hope you really do know that. This is a massive achievement and quite an epic, and I hope you are pleased and proud with how it came out. Since I’ve read this chapter probably a dozen times over the course of its evolution and we’ve discussed its mechanics in detail as we shaped and revised it, I’m going to write this review as best I can from the perspective of a reader (not your beta). As such, this review may end up being more stream of consciousness and more informal than what I usually do. As I re-read the chapter, I really tried to sink into feeling it and enjoying it as a reader for the first time and that is what I’m going to comment on.

The best way I can capture the feeling of reading this chapter is that it is very much like what Maia experiences: helplessly watching everything crash down. You just…know that it’s not going to end well for Karth, Edgar, and the rest, and you want to scream at them to get away but there’s nothing you can do but watch them all charge into disaster. This sense of foreboding that hints at the impending doom drips from every part of this chapter – from the ominous quote at the beginning to the end. Menacing irony is sprinkled throughout: Karth’s thought about luck being with them, Edgar’s faint hope that they might actually be able to pull this off, Karth’s prophetic “let’s finish this!” One can tell they are all rushing into a trap with zero chance of success and it’s agonizing to watch it play out.

At this point, the most admirable character in the story is Edgar. He’s the one at this point that reminds me most of the traditional Redwall hero, and I think it’s important that he’s included amongst the grey characters. He acts as a “true north” sort of character (I would say Splitface is his polar opposite and the closest thing we have here to the traditional Redwall villain), by which we can contrast the other, more morally grey characters like Karth. He has many of the markings of the Redwall hero: fierce loyalty and bravery, honor, and that “I won’t give up while a single creature still depends on me” attitude.

You contrast him to Karth particularly well in this chapter. I was especially struck by this line about Karth towards the end: “Faintly, the implications filtered into his mind, that Nurzon, Skipper, Bluetail, and Edgar must all have fallen. He didn't care.” Contrast this to Edgar’s grief and respect for the individual fallen when he wakes after the explosion and realizes he must carry on for their sake, in their honor. It’s such a powerful contrast in showing just how far Karth has slid, and how he is not all that much different now from Barkclaw, who also sacrifices his vermin like Snarlfang without a second thought. It was just very well done.

Speaking of Snarlfang, I know that scene gave us both a lot of grief, but it turned out beautifully and adds such a poignant contrast to the whole chapter. I think it’s the moment when the cost of war is felt (and questioned) most strongly by the reader. Snarlfang reminds me of one of my favorite original Redwall characters, Blaggut: simple, endearing, brave. I really feel sorry for him and felt the weight of his sacrifice that will probably never be honored by either side.

The scene with Splitface and the squirrels had all the flavor of the best Redwall villain scenes. It’s harsh and brutal and maddening, and you just want to punch him in his smug, cruel face and you can’t and it’s horrible. It’s just simply maddening seeming him coming out on top and knowing the characters can’t get back at him or avenge their fallen.

“Honor was easy to play with but deadly to provoke.” This line really stood out at me, and I think it sums up this chapter, as well as the first arc of the story, so well. This whole thing is a mocking charade of honor, both for Karth and Barkclaw.

Finally, I just have to comment that “a bunch of glory-infested leverets” is a truly delightful phrase and smacks of the original Redwall books in all the right ways.

Keep on writing! Cheers!

-Sauron Gorthaur
6/2/2017 c15 13Foamsatmouth
More please!
6/2/2017 c14 Foamsatmouth
Errybody going crazy
6/2/2017 c13 Foamsatmouth
I'm glad I was wrong, but at the sane time...
6/2/2017 c12 Foamsatmouth
Hellfire and brimstone, he broke Maia
6/2/2017 c11 Foamsatmouth
He's just a cub! Too much responsibility at that age ;-;
6/2/2017 c10 Foamsatmouth
Wot did Edgar do as a betrayal?
6/2/2017 c9 Foamsatmouth
Not gonna lie, not the story I was expecting. Pretty damn good though.
6/2/2017 c8 Foamsatmouth
I like this owl already
6/2/2017 c7 Foamsatmouth
Hmm...what's going on between Swiftclaw and his son?
6/2/2017 c6 Foamsatmouth
Never heard of a hare going turncoat, but these are special circumstances.
6/2/2017 c5 Foamsatmouth
Got goosebumps with that speech lol
6/2/2017 c4 Foamsatmouth
Did he lose a paw? Kinda confusing
6/2/2017 c3 Foamsatmouth
RIP Vermin
6/2/2017 c2 Foamsatmouth
There's nothing for poor Blythe to be ashamed of, IMO.
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