Reviews for The Shrew War Epilogues
1107 chapter 3 . 10/31/2013
I love this
Anonymous Phantom Writer chapter 1 . 6/11/2012
For the "Requiem for the Last Rat" I think I'm forced to call Godwin's Law.
TLhikan chapter 3 . 3/18/2012
Wow. It's hard to be a latecomer to an awesome series like this, and put my thoughts on the saga as a whole, TCB, Tug of War, and TSW, in a single review, particularly because anything I say here has no doubt been already said by people already following the story, but here goes and such.

The first thing that grabbed me, especially as The Shrew War came to a close, is how the plot, characters, and it's resolution feels so like an official Redwall Novel, then reminds you that it's not. The plot doesn't end with Cyril, Browder, Urthblood, Monty, and the Guosim sailing off to Terramort and defeating Tratton, it ends with a treaty, and with a status quo that has been blown to Hellgates and beyond. Parts of the story could have happened at any point in Redwall history, but Foxguard and the technological achievements really drive home the point that Mossflower isn't the same and won't be ever again. The feeling becomes an almost crushing reality in Requiem; Mossflower has currency, another landmark, and an entire species deported.

Ah, the technology. The really awesome part of what you've done is that the technology you've introduced to the Redwall universe really makes sense, and never at all feels like something you pulled out of nowhere to make the story more interesting/fit with the theme better (although it does do both of those things). Advanced surgical techniques, semi-submersed watercraft, acid (sulfuric?), gunpowder, and mustard gas are all somewhat jarring to see in the Redwall context, but like I said, they fit. It also puts to mind what's next (my bet's on steam power for Tratton).

And there's Urthblood himself. All through the first book, I was hoping that it wouldn't end, well, exactly like it did. Even after what happened, you left us enough moral ambiguity to sort of cheer for Urthblood because of what kind of enemies he was facing. By the end, we still see that he did a lot of good. He also sold a species into slavery and has used his army to hunt down every member of that species, sealing off Redwall in the process. It's a jarring reminder that Urthblood really lacks any sense of good and evil beyond the big picture.

The ending of Requiem is enough to give the series a (somewhat unhappy) ending, but of course I hope that we see the final resolution to all of this soon.

In short, good work Highwing, and I hope to read more from you someday in the future.
teeds chapter 3 . 2/26/2012
"One thing's fer sure - won't be the same 'round here without 'em"

So, with that line, we come to the end of this incredible two-novel (so far!) series. Even though we've chatted at length about the particulars of the story, I felt that leaving a review here would be appropriate - to encapsulate my feelings about the series as a whole, as opposed to the little bits here and there that we've talked about.

These stories - both Crimson Badger and Shrew War - represent I think the ultimate in fan-fiction. Not simply "Redwall" fan-fiction, but the very notion of fan-fiction. These are stories that introduce us to characters that in many ways surpass the depth of those found in all of the official canon, introduce us to stories and plotlines that surpass the complexity found in all of the official canon, and introduce us to moral complexities that never even existed in the official canon at all. All of this is combined with an exceptional writing style that, while lacking in some character and environment descriptions (a crime which I myself am guilty of on a regular basis), wraps the Redwall universe in a warm blanket of modernity that we could have never hoped to see in the official canon.

I've had no qualms telling you about bits that I felt irked about - and truth be told it was irksome character arcs like these that prompted me to get into writing "The Strings Snapped" back in the day - but even though I may disagree with the paths you took certain characters and feel that certain elements were either overlooked or dealt with in too speedy a fashion, as a writer I can really only marvel at the incredible skill on display in these tales. It's not just a matter of writing, it's an understanding of the universe you're building off of and pushing it in a new direction. In The Crimson Badger, you gave us a character that the Redwall world had never seen before, and in essence, we watched him begin to destroy and/or forcibly change everything that kept the fragile balances of the Redwall universe in check. In The Shrew War, we see the furthering of this mad (yet brilliant) agenda, and it's almost sad to watch conventional Redwall heroes left to merely stand and watch as the world shifts around them beyond their control. You've even managed to nail all the races' classic characterizations, from the hare's accent to the molespeak (which I could never, ever get right!) and everything in between.

Broggen and Cyril, Hanchett and Urthblood, Miz and Browder, Matowick and Perricone, etc etc - I've complained about them to no end, and I'm sure someday you'll have plenty of folks writing fan-fiction within your own canon to remedy the unpleasantries you've left in these regards :) And yet, a good war story almost demands sudden loss. They need randomness to drive home the non-lyrical nature of conflict, and while I may not agree with the manner, say, Broggen exited the story, or that Cyril spent the latter half of the story as a comedic foil for poor Vanessa and never really fulfilled the destiny Urthblood laid out for him in TCB, or that Hanchett never got to come to terms with the deck he'd been dealt by Urthblood, or this that or the other thing, I can't really say that, had I been writing them, I wouldn't have done the exact same things. As a writer, you're trying to pull emotion from your readers, and judging from all the comments here, including my own in our various discussions, you have absolutely succeeded in that task. If I didn't care about these characters, why would I be upset that they died or wound up in a world altogether different from the one we read about in the official canon? Why would I be worried about their fates in this strange new place? Why would I even care about the state of the world at all? The fact that I do, in fact, care about all these things, is a positive sign.

There are quite a few specific scenes I can call out as being deftly handled in ways that instill the most potent forms of envy in me - the entirety of book 2 is a near-nonstop action sequence that, if rendered in anything other than words, would be an assault so incredible to the senses that I'm not sure it would be possible to sit through the whole thing. The slow build up of tension as our protagonists ascend Foxguard's tall tower to look out from the highest point in the known world was impossible to put down, and of course you handle the feast scenes incredibly - giving us a spot-on recreation of the official canon's own.

Some sequences did feel like they went on for too long, switching between too many personalities and in some cases getting a bit too confusing to follow properly. This was compounded on occasion by the fact that certain landmarks used to give us a sense of space were not always laid out in the best manner - leaving me confused about the spatial distances between characters and where exactly they were located in a scene.

Doublegate, to pull a specific example, could probably have been tightened up a bit, and the chase that occurred afterward felt both elongated and rushed, oddly enough - in that the emphasis was near-entirely on Snoga's retreat, and Kothar's troops are dealt with mostly off-camera, save for these Sleepers in the Sand that I didn't recall reading of anywhere else... unless it's something from one of the official books that I haven't read yet?

In the end, I was left with a sense of both unease and relief. Relief because while this story resulted in the ends of many characters I came to like (and would have loved to learn more about), there were a handful of characters who wound up better off than when they started. The unease of course comes from the simple fact that this is only a half-way point in your own canon, and a four-act structure suggests that the next book is where the proverbial stuff hits the proverbial fan. If this story was only a lead-up to the next one, I almost don't want to know what awaits the survivors in the sequels. But then, of course I do. Who wouldn't? :)

I mentioned in our discussions that the Redwall world you've left us with at the end of The Shrew War is one entirely dissimilar from the ones people here and the RFF board write about. While the official tales always ended with an invitation for the reader to stop by Redwall Abbey on their travels, no such invitation is given here, and with good reason I should say! The Mossflower that Urthblood has left us with is a shadow of its former self, and nobody in their right mind would ever want to go there - but you can bet we'll all want to read about it should you choose to continue the tale.

Congratulations, Wing - what you've accomplished here is an incredible feat. While I wouldn't go so far as to say it "surpasses" the Redwall series (it's difficult to even compare them - more like apples and oranges, all things considered) I do feel that it does surpass all other fan-written Redwall stories, and that includes my own. If the goal of fan-fiction is to present us with a vision of a familiar world as could never exist in the official canon, yet also remains familiar to those who enjoyed the canon, you have succeeded in fulfilling that goal.
ifeelmad chapter 3 . 2/5/2012
So, we get to see things off the point of view of a rat taken as a "reserve" laborer. Cheers for Grayfoot.

Wow, he's more aggressive than I thought, and blunter too. "Urthblood happened." Wow.

:)
ifeelmad chapter 2 . 2/5/2012
Well, goodbye to the Flitchaye.
ifeelmad chapter 1 . 2/5/2012
Once more, I'm exasperated by finding poignant happenings conveyed through Winokur's tame narrative voice. But even I have to admit that this nearly teared me up with its sheer beauty.

And, hey , Wing, I remember your saying something about "gruesome deaths for sport" given to the slaves. I suggest this scene:

A mouse standing before a rat, with the rat stabbing the mouse in the stomach and gouging out the intestines. The intestines spill out with maggots and other mushed up insects entangled in them, falling all over the ground. Meanwhile, the mouse's eyes bulge out. Rats around him laugh.

A heartbreaking scene, don't you agree?
Lightysnake chapter 3 . 1/24/2012
Wing, you magnificent bastard, I read your book! (Surry here. Great to see you posting this! gimme a message!)
Highwing chapter 1 . 1/1/2012
With 2011 now behind us, and the entire Urthblood saga (all that exists of it so far) now posted on this site, I suppose now is the time for me to add a note here about how much the glowing feedback and positive reviews from everyone here has meant to me. It's been a big lift to me all year, just as the story itself seems to have provided so many of you with an engaging diversion that's captivated and entertained my new readers, keeping them on the edge of their seats and eagerly coming back for more, all the while speculating what happens next. The most gratifying thing an author - any author, amateur or professional - can receive is this kind of enthusiastic reception to their work, and I feel truly blessed to have been able to share my creative musings with such an appreciative audience. It all made me look forward to proofing and posting each new chapter, knowing that others were waiting to gobble it up like an elderberry pie or meadowcream trifle. So consider this Recorder and Historian humbled and bolstered by the entire experience.

I owe a great debt - as does everyone who discovered and cherished the Urthblood stories in 2011 - to Samadhir. I know I've mentioned elsewhere that I would never have posted these works here without his request and encouragement to do so, so if you enjoyed them, send him a PM of thanks, because he deserves them as much as I do!

Now, as to the future of the series ... Again, you know you've done something right as an author when you've gotten the requests to continue a story that I've gotten here, not to mention the avowals that "TCB" and "TSW" have moved and enriched some of you. For many years now I have been content to let the series lie, due in large part to the declining interest in Redwall as a whole that seems to have made the entire online fandom for Mr. Jacques' novels rather moribund. I can now say, thanks to my experience here this past year and also due to the unfortunate passing of BJ last winter, I feel I am now closer to resuming the series than I have been in a long, long time. I'd once publicly declared, after the completion of "TSW," that I WOULD someday write Urthblood III, but only after I'd had at least one original novel of mine published professionally. Well, that hasn't happened yet, but if anything could make me break that vow, roll up my sleeves and start the third novel of this fanfiction saga, it would be the confluence of circumstances which have found me this past year.

I cannot and will not make any guarantees as to when or if this will actually happen. I'm just too cautious a soul for that, and wouldn't wish to disappoint any of my hard-won readers with a promise I may not be able to keep. I should also point out that I am a slow writer, and also one who generally prefers not to start posting any parts of a tale before it's entirely written (although I broke that rule with "TSW," simply because it was SO long). Thus, you should all bear in mind that, even were I to start writing Urthblood III next week, you'd likely not be seeing any of it before sometime in 2013.

So the question becomes, just how patient are you? And how long would you be willing to wait for another Urthblood novel? Because it might be a long time coming, assuming I decide to write it at all.

In the meantime, I should mention that the Urthblood stories are not the ONLY Redwall fanfics I've written. While I may have depleted my current supply of Urthblood-related tales, I still have a few others lying around that have nothing to do with that red-armored badger. I plan to post those while I'm making up my mind about whether to proceed with Urthblood III. So look for those in the months ahead.

On a final closing note, I would love to keep in touch with those of you who would like to do likewise. If you fall into that category, feel free to PM me, and if you like I can even provide my e-mail so that we're not limited to communicating through this site. (I'll not post it here, for obvious reasons.) Look forward to hearing from some of you!
Quaver Ava chapter 3 . 12/30/2011
Wow. Reading this effected me more than some of the more severe chapters. This last chapter here shows us how far Urthblood as gone. Money, and a Gawtrybe base, more changes to the land of Mossflower. Urthblood has brought a tragedy like no other, he has brought an order to Mossflower that takes away a bit of its magic. I fear he's on the verge of turning Mossflower into a Urthania.(Urthblood land, kingdom, or whatever...)

This is far into the future, at the very end of the next book. What its showed us, tells us just how much more horror Urthblood will commit. That horror we will see in the next book.

I don't care if you're swamped with life, you need to finish this sega! Don't leave us with such a big cliff hanger! You can't possibly do that to us! You can't! I will PM you in every way possible to try and motivate you to write again.

-

Oh look at that, that's really cool! I left this review here a long time ago and Fanfiction still had it save for me to finish! yay! Now were was I...

Oh yeah! Get that next book written up now or I'll hunt you down and strangle you! Or get on my knees and plead for you to finish it...

But other than that Wing, you've written a really epic Sega here! Now don't do what Jade did and leave us hanging for a really long time. Of course, you've probably did that with Sam... Sam my man, I feel for you. But good job on getting him to post this thing up here! Now, let's all get him to write that third, maybe fourth, and so on book(s). :D

Quavera_tava

P.S. I wanna see Browder turn around into some awesome character!
Samadhir chapter 3 . 12/17/2011
And so it has finally come to this… Requiem for the Last Rat – the stand-alone story adapted as an epilogue and the final chapter of The Shrew War and, so far, the Urthblood Saga. I’m really at my wits end for how to give a worth last review. Since I have reviewed every chapter of every story Wing has posted on this site, all related to the Urthblood Cycle – quite long reviews too – that means this will be my 238th review! And at the time of this writing, it will be the 814th you’ll receive in total! So how can I possibly do justice to all that? Well, I guess there is nothing to it but to let my words flow as they may, and hope they will form into an adequate review of this chapter and TSW as a whole…

It’s a beautiful and tragic little scene we get as a finale. The unnamed fugitive rat, nervously walking into Grayfoot’s tavern, desperate to get away from the prying eyes of the Gawtrybe and a life in slavery. It’s our first taste of the situations the rats of the lands find themselves in, having been betrayed by the badger they’d regarded as a saviour, whom many of them had fought and died for. Rats truly are an unfortunate species, both in the BJ novels and here, and chapters like this is what made me sympathize with them so immensely that they became my favourite creatures in the Saga.

The poor rodent gets some respite however; Grayfoot is a noble and goodhearted creature who refuses to turn him in, provides him with a free tankard of his best ale and a sympathetic ear to his troubles. It allows him to vent what we all suspected: that for all of Urthblood’s rhetoric of all rats living together in peace as a single nation, the fate that truly awaits most of the woodland rats who are evicted from their homes, rounded up and put on ships to Tratton’s empire is brutal servitude and oppression. That this has been done by the creature they trusted in, who has portrayed himself as the undying enemy of all slavers, just makes it all the more tragic and infuriating.

We get interesting glimpses into how the lands have changed in the seasons that have passed since Winokur wrote his first journal as the new Abbey Recorder. Money has been introduced into the society of the Redwall universe. A new fortress has been built for the Gawtrybe in Mossflower, tightening Urthblood’s grip over these lands even further. And Redwall is pretty much living under siege, the squirrel archers blocking of all passages into the Abbey to keep anymore rats from seeking sanctuary within its protective walls. It leads to so many questions. How did an official currency get introduced so suddenly? How are the recently freed slaves feeling about having rats living in the same home as they? And how is Mina handling her conflicting loyalty between her old master and her adopted home? Will she continue to support Urthblood’s policies even after the Purge of the Rats? Will she see the Redwallers’ decision to accept fugitive rats into their home as a crime against the badgerlord and argue they should release them into the paws of the waiting Gawtrybe (that would probably make those rats VERY angry with her)? And how many released slaves have made their way to Redwall anyway; how large is their community now?

These are questions we’re just dying to find out, but we’ll have to wait awhile longer before we do so.

In any event, Grayfoot is unable to hide the rat in his tavern; it’s not just a crime to be a rat apparently, it’s also illegal to harbour them. But he can give him something else – tips on where he can escape and hopefully be safe from the hunting squirrels, and a well-stacked travel pack. And as the rat observes, he already had this pack made in advance, so he must’ve been doing this before. It seems the old ferret captain isn’t keen on following Urthblood’s orders anymore – no surprise there, given how the badger has treated him – nor on aiding in the enslavement of innocent creatures. He’s taken it upon himself to help any condemned rats escape the badger’s clutches, like a regular Raoul Wallenberg (Sweden’s Oscar Schindler). Respect, my noble defender of the innocent, downtrodden and persecuted former ferret captain, respect! Guess that’ll be the last time I use that meme for awhile…

And after a quick thanks and a farewell, the rat is gone, leaving Grayfoot to continue polishing his glasses, speculating what the future will bring. And considering just how much is happening, I don’t think even Urthblood would be able to predict it…

And then it’s over. All we can do now is wait and hope that we will find out what happens. I can say that we all agree it would be maddening if we didn’t.

To try and summarize my feelings on The Shrew War (and what a task that is)… Thank you, Wing. Thank you for having written this epic and shared it with us. Thank you for remaining with us for all these years. Thank you for posting it on this site, giving it more exposure and allowing many new readers to discover this masterpiece for themselves. It has been a tremendous ride, and I don’t want it to ever stop.

The Shrew War is an even better novel than The Crimson Badger. It’s better paced, more tightly written, more action-packed, more dramatic, more epic and, in my humble opinion, your crowning achievement so far. It wonderfully ties together many plotlines and side-stories, introduces us to many new and well-written characters (while killing off a few survivors from the previous novel, sadly), and expands the universe of the Urthblood Saga immensely. It feels like a living, breathing world, a world that isn’t static like the one in the BJ novels but which actively changes and develops as time goes by, growing more advanced, more complex, deeper and more interesting as the decisions and actions of all these characters, primarily the titular one, affect the world.

It is noticeably darker than its predecessor. It is more violent and brutal, outright nightmarish at times with its graphic description of the terrifying new weapons being deployed by the different sides in its conflicts. We see beasts getting brutally tortured, cannibalized, and butchered without mercy. We see just how cruel the searat slavemasters can truly be. We get to see a true monster in Snoga, who equals the worst of the vermin villains from the BJ novels in evil. And most important at all, we see Urthblood develop from a morally questionable but still basically noble character in TCB into a completely ruthless, Machiavellian, double-crossing tyrant who commits the same atrocities he’s been condemning his enemies for. And seeing him teeter on the brink of outright villainy is all the sadder because he has been so successful in bringing vermin and woodlanders together, ending the generations of bloodshed and strife between them and truly changing the world of Redwall for the better. When he has done so much good, you don’t WANT him to become a villain. But with all the things he’s done in the course of this book, it’s almost unavoidable to see him as that now…

Like TCB, this novel isn’t flawless. It can occasionally get a little long-winded, though it’s much better in that regard than TCB. There are certain plot elements and events that don’t always seem natural. And of course there’s the habit of introducing new, seemingly interesting characters, particularly searats like Rindosh and Kirkirt, only to brutally off them within a few chapters of their first appearance. The whole business with Mayk, which I commented on extensively, still irks me.

But as with TCB, these complaints are minor in the end. This book is a masterpiece of fanfic writing, and I don’t think the official novels come close to their quality. I have already used so many superlatives throughout my reviews and I don’t have enough space left in my character limit, so I’ll just summarize by saying: this is a great achievement, Wing. Be proud of it and treasure it. You’re an amazing writer, and never forget that as long as you live.

Like the other reviewers, I implore you to write a sequel. When I first urged you to post it here on , I could never have imagined it would go as well as it did. You’ve received many new fans and readers, many more people have had the chance to explore this wonderful world you’ve created. Let this inspire you to continue with this wonderful Saga you have created, for you will have eager fans just dying to find out what happens next. I really hope you will continue with a sequel. I know you will…

To all my fellow reviewers – Killy, Sporky, Quavera Tava, Eulalia (still hoping you’ll get back to commenting on the story now that it’s finished) and many others – thank you for sharing this time with me. It has been as fun reviewing this story along with you, and to observe how much you enjoy it – as it has been to re-read it. I hope to see more of you in the future, and I will always treasure this time together.

See you all in The Urthblood Saga Part III, whenever it comes!

(Now, I think there’s that awesome Kung Fu Panda fic I can review in the meantime…)
Sicinus chapter 1 . 12/15/2011
Hello all. I have been a big fan of the Redwall series for quite some time, and it is rare that I run across a fanfiction that rivals the original books. The Crimson Badger Series is one such fanfiction. Highwing, you have masterfully captured the spirit of the Redwall series, while simultaneously writing a unique and captivating story. If I were to list all the things that I like about it I would exceed the character limit for reviews, so I'll keep it brief. I enjoy the way that your series examines complex themes such as prejudice, fate, and the nature of good and evil. Your characters are multifaceted and engaging, whether they are noble, evil, or somewhere in between. Additionally, kudos for writing one of the most jaw-dropping twists that I have ever read. With that said, I humbly request that you write a sequel to the Shrew War whenever you find the time to do so. I will be among the first in line to read it. Thanks again for posting these brilliant stories!
Killy-S chapter 3 . 12/15/2011
While this is my second time reading TSW, I am so happy to be able to re-read all the adventures, the joys, and even the horrors. It has been so wonderful reading along with Sporky, Sammy, QT and all the others. Reading the reviews of other readers has only added to the reading experience.

This epilogue is my favourite, even if it is the saddest. Rats forced to live in hidding. Gawtribe squirrels rounding up and slaughtering any they run into. Lastly there is Grayfoot, caught up with his family, his past obligations to Blood face, and finally the complications of being a ferret in Mossflower.

I think this is one of the most tragically beautiful chapters in the saga.

Like all the others, I do hope someday you will write the third installment. Till then, I suppose my overactive imagination will have to be enough.

Thanks for posting this Wing, it has been a treat.
DarthCraftus chapter 3 . 12/15/2011
Oh, please, please, PLEASE write a sequel! I MUST know what happens!
Samadhir chapter 2 . 12/15/2011
Oh man… It feels difficult for me to even review this chapter. That it’s the last epilogue before the final scene in the Urthblood Saga so far only makes it more painful…

When I first read it, I had long feared that this would happen. I was hoping until the last that Urthblood had forgotten about the Flitchaye and Klystra’s promise that he would “eliminate this problem”. But alas, when everything in TSW seemed over, Wing had to tie up this particular plotline…

I know that the Flitchaye were murderous cannibals who entrapped innocent travellers for their food, killing and devouring poor Wexford, a character who seemed to be really intriguing and whom we all thought would develop into something greater. I know they would’ve killed more if they’d been allowed to live. And I know there wasn’t much else Urthblood could’ve done about it, and this was the quickest and most efficient solution.

But it’s just so sad to see him do this to their entire tribe. Basically, like the other reviewers have pointed out, he’s committing genocide. Presumably the weasels who fell to the poisonous vapours or were killed by the squirrel archers included females and children. Neither the gas nor Urthblood’s soldiers discriminate between them.

The weasels were probably too mired in their ways and mentality, having lived subterranean ways and engaged in cannibalism all their lives, to be reformed. Perhaps their eating of other sentient creatures has already tainted them in most woodlanders’ eyes and no-one would be willing to accept them. Perhaps no-one would’ve been willing to take care of their children, and they would’ve been left to starve or freeze to death by themselves. And short of Urthblood posting a guard detail around the valley at all times to keep people from entering it, there was nothing else he could’ve done.

But it still feels terrible. And not just that he does it, but that he does it remorseless and without guilt, referring to the destroyed tribes as pests to be eliminated and nothing more. It’s his cold, utilitarian outlook on things, which doesn’t leave any place for empathy or regret. And it pains me that his moles helped him do it; one by one the creatures serving under him lose their innocence…

What makes this chapter more painful for me now is that it ties into issues I’ve had during my depression, things that I’ve thought about a lot, tormented myself over. One is whether the killing of an entire group of beings, i.e. genocide, can ever be justified. And if you are willing to regard it all from the effects that it will have (how many others will be saved by it, etc.) maybe you could reluctantly accept that it would. But it still feels terrible; you don’t WANT such a thing to be justified! It just sits so far out of our perception of what it means to be good in our society. There are so many issues about this, I won’t be going into them all…

Execution is indeed a nice word to sum up what’s been going on. If he’s this willing to kill off an entire population, no wonder he’s willing to sell another into slavery. And speaking of that, in the next and final chapter of The Shrew War, we’ll be seeing an account from one of those affected by his treaty with the Searat King…
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