Sunday, April 1, 2007

Mistmantle, Part II

Two more observations I forgot to make about Mistmantle. Both are differences from Redwall, or new motifs. One is the use of alcohol as a tool of villainy by Husk and Aspen. What a wonderful inclusion in a book for children, to show the dimming power of wine on the old king's faculties and his strong recapturing of his mind and will when he begins to drink clear spring water. I have no problem at all with the animals' enjoyment of wine, beer, and cordials in Redwall, as they are shown as a good part of a healthful life. But the abuse of alcohol in Mistmantle is very vivid and dramatically instructive.
The other element is the somewhat more explicit religious beliefs in Mistmantle. The fact that the animals invoke a higher power shows the value in a community of spiritual belief. McAllister is brilliant in her use of "Heart" as a term of address to this power, thereby avoiding reference to any religion known today.. When I read the book, I thought this was her invention. But volume two, Urchin and the Heartstone, begins with a quotation from an eight century Irish hymn: Great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall/ Still be my vision, thou ruler of all. So this does come from a tradition, but one that is unfamiliar in our age. This use fits with the British setting and yet strikes the reader as new, unique to this world.

No pictures on this additional post.

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