Fans of fantasy and adventure will enjoy The Legend of Luke (Ages 9-12), the latest offering from Brian Jacques's Redwall series. Martin the warrior mouse is content with his extended family of mice, moles, hedgehogs, and other animals at Redwall Abbey. But when a visitor comes and sings a ditty about a warrior mouse named Luke, Martin wants to learn the fate of his long-lost parents (the song is actually about his father). He wants to have a better understanding of his roots, so he journeys to the land of his birth in search of someone who can tell him more about his father.
Having a story within a story is a common device used by authors, yet Jacques does a nice job of unraveling his inner story through the trials and travails of Martin and his band, including battles with water rats and ferrets and encounters with hawks and ghosts. Once the story shifts to Luke, the author introduces a new set of characters, but themes and patterns from Luke's experiences parallel Martin's. The resemblance between Martin and his father slowly emerges, particularly in the consistent and just way they handle their respective surroundings.
Some readers may find the dialect known as molespeech a bit difficult to follow. While the author uses standard English to convey conversations with mice, otters, and hawks, the moles speak in thick accents which must often be re-read many times to be fully comprehended.
The Legend of Luke is the 12th book in the Redwall epic, but the story is written in such a way that it could easily stand alone. Don't be surprised, however, if you're enticed into picking up the saga's earlier volumes.
Dean Miller is the publisher of SAMS computer books, where he reads fiction to escape learning the names of all 151 Pokémon for his children.