Eulalia! is the most recent addition to the Redwall series, and it is in the same great tradition of the previous books in the series. This particular book is not as centered on Redwall Abbey as much as some of its predecessors. The series is set in Mossflower Woods, where there is an abbey or monastery of stone in which a variety of animals try to live in peace and harmony - mice, hedgehogs, otters, moles, porcupines, and other creatures live as one community. They are a somewhat monastic group, with a leader called the abbot (male) or abbess (female); others are called friar or sister and such. This is not a strictly monastic group as here the animals have families - spouses and children and other relatives.
Near Redwall Abbey rises a huge mountain called Salamandastron where badgers are the lords and command an army of hares. These two groups are friends and allies in times of trouble. Mossflower Woods lies not too far from a shore where pirates or sea raiders land and terrorize the inhabitants. Eulalia! is the war cry of the badgers and hares, the name of a Spanish woman saint, grass, a township in Pennsylvania, and other towns and places, and people.
Eulalia! starts in a northland where a young badger and his grandparents are attacked by sea raiders led by a golden fox, Viska Longtooth. The grandparents are killed, the young badger, Gorath, taken captive. The raiders sail south, hearing of Redwall Abbey and its wonderful food and treasures. The great badger lord, Asheye of Salamandastron, has a dream about a young badger who would take his place, and he sends the haremaid Maudie out to find the badger of his dreams.
The young hedgehog Orkwil Prink, who lives at Redwall, is exiled for a season for stealing. He eventually is captured by the sea raiders and tied up with Gorath. The two escape and make their way to Redwall to warn them of the sea raiders. They eventually encounter Maudie and her new squirrel friend and others on their way to the Abbey. Hampering their progress is a horde of brown rats that are after them, too.
[Spoiler alert!] In this story of good versus evil, good eventually wins out in the end. The evil sea raiders and the brown rats get their just rewards for their evil lives. These two groups are so venal and tricky that they do not unite until the fox kills a lesser officer of the brown rats and tricks the rest into following him. The brown rat leader eventually dies as well by drowning in his pursuit of eggs. The good join together and help each other to defeat the evil, and the good live happily ever after.
Typically Brian Jacques includes loads of description of various foods that the Redwallers make or present, many times transported via trolleys to various places in the abbey. In this book, he does not do this as much, most likely because this book is not centered on Redwall Abbey as much as on the badgers and areas outside of the abbey. Still, food and its preparation remain a major part of the story; meals are celebrations of sorts for the good animals and a necessity for the evil ones. Jacques also includes many songs, as usual. The artwork by David Elliot at the head of each chapter is great - black and white drawings provide an artistic ideal of animals or scenes within the chapter. There is a nice map of Mossflower Valley included in the book’s front. Although there are no riddles as in previous books, which make those earlier books fascinating mystery stories, fans of the Redwall series will not be disappointed with Eulalia!. It takes its rightful place among the other books in the series. Young and old readers will love this book, and it is highly recommended to them for their reading pleasure. This reviewer looks forward to the next addition to this wonderful series.