Tammo the young hare has spent his life dreaming of the glorious life of the Long Patrol, a group of hares that stand up for the rights of the weak and helpless and fight dashing battles against rats, weasels, ferrets, and all who threaten the peace and well-being of others. He finds his shot at that 'glorious' life comes much sooner than expected when he is swept up in a war, a war against a vicious rat called Damug Warfang and his band of pirates.
Although I felt the storyline should have been interesting, I just couldn't get into it. Maybe it was the thick dialects of all the characters or maybe the fact that the story just moved slowly, but for whatever reason I never really got emotionally invested in the story.
It just dragged. About 2/3 of the way through I read another book, just for a break. And The Long Patrol is only a little over 300 pages long; I shouldn't need a break for a book that short.
It was odd, trying to hold a mental picture of characters that are everything from mice to hares to badgers to stoats, and are wearing clothes and waging wars and things like that. Despite the initial species confusion, though, I actually liked a lot of the characters. I didn't find the villains particularly scary - they seeemed to spend the majority of their time bumbling around making mistakes - but the protagonists were pretty cool.
My only real issue with them was this: all the characters were either heroes or villains, with no grey areas. If you were born a rat, or weasel, or other "vermin" animal, you were evil with no questions asked. Likewise all the hares and other good guys were all well-meaning and friendly. This meant that there was no internal conflict, which made for much less interesting characters and a much less interesting story overall.
There are two major problems I have with Jacques: his descriptions of food, and his accents. The food talk can go on for paragraphs and paragraphs at a time, often just listing the enormous variety of food available at any given meal. I didn't feel that it contributed anything to the story, in fact I thought it slowed the book down a great deal for no good reason.
I also dislike the characters' accents. They all speak very oddly, each species having its own hard-to-read speech. The moles, for example, say things like "'Boo urr, 'taint natcheral t'be afloaten abowt loi this!' 'Hurr nay, oi'm afeared us'n's moight be a sinkin' unnder-water!'" If you sound everything out phonetically it makes sense, but after reading a few pages of it I start to get headachy. I think the accents could have been a lot subtler and still made their point.
End Result: three stars. A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.