Fans of Brian Jacques's Redwall doorstoppers will hear echoes in this animal fantasy, although Avi (Poppy and Rye, p. 808, etc.) not only has the vegetarians attacking the carnivores, but throws in other clever twists too. A mild-mannered, rabbit-like Montmer, Perloo is drawn away from his books when the dying Montmer "granter" dubs him her successor. When the seat of power is instantly usurped by the granter's son Berwig the Big and his greasy advisor Senyous the Sly, Perloo is forced to flee to the coyote-like Felbarts, traditional enemies against whom Berwig has proclaimed a war to cement his position. Amid a welter of captures and escapes, Perloo's doughty ally Lucabara gathers her friends for an uprising at home, Berwig and Senyous reveal the depths of their stupidity and villainy, and Perloo discovers that the Felbarts aren't so bad. When the rival armies finally meet, Perloo faces Senyous in single combat. Drawing on his one martial skill, Perloo defeats Senyous with a barrage of snowballs, after which the cowardly Berwig renounces his grantership, and Perloo, declaring that henceforth all Montmer decisions will he made collectively, does too. For all the soldiers and warlike behavior here, the story is free of bloodshed, and if the characters are less robust than Redwall's stars, they're also less typecast. Perhaps inevitably, there are plenty of loose ends to tie up in a sequel.