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Redwall #1


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A quest to recover a legendary lost weapon by bumbling young apprentice monk, mouse Matthias.

Redwall Abbey, tranquil home to a community of peace-loving mice, is threatened by Cluny the Scourge savage bilge rat warlord and his battle-hardened horde. But the Redwall mice and their loyal woodland friends combine their courage and strength.

416 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1986

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About the author

Brian Jacques

237 books3,963 followers
Brian Jacques (pronounced 'jakes') was born in Liverpool, England on June 15th, 1939. Along with forty percent of the population of Liverpool, his ancestral roots are in Ireland, County Cork to be exact.

Brian grew up in the area around the Liverpool docks, where he attended St. John's School, an inner city school featuring a playground on its roof. At the age of ten, his very first day at St. John's foreshadowed his future career as an author; given an assignment to write a story about animals, he wrote a short story about a bird who cleaned a crocodile's teeth. Brian's teacher could not, and would not believe that a ten year old could write so well. When young Brian refused to falsely say that he had copied the story, he was caned as "a liar". He had always loved to write, but it was only then that he realized he had a talent for it.
He wrote Redwall for the children at the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind in Liverpool, where as a truck driver, he delivered milk. Because of the nature of his first audience, he made his style of writing as descriptive as possible, painting pictures with words so that the schoolchildren could see them in their imaginations. He remained a patron of the school until his death.

Brian lived in Liverpool, where his two grown sons, Marc, a carpenter and bricklayer, and David, a professor of Art and a muralist, still reside. David Jacques' work can be seen in Children's hospitals, soccer stadiums, and trade union offices as far away as Germany, Mexico, and Chile (not to mention Brian's photo featured in most of his books).

Brian also ran a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Merseyside, until October 2006, where he shared his comedy and wit, and played his favourites from the world of opera - he was a veritable expert on The Three Tenors.

When he was wasn't writing, Brian enjoyed walking his dog 'Teddy', a white West Highland Terrier, and completing crossword puzzles. When he found time he read the works of Mario Puzo, Damon Runyon, Richard Condon, Larry McMurty, and P.G. Wodehouse. He was also known to cook an impressive version of his favourite dish, spaghetti and meatballs.

Sadly, Brian passed away on the 5th February 2011.

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5 stars
48,943 (42%)
4 stars
41,378 (35%)
3 stars
20,237 (17%)
2 stars
4,082 (3%)
1 star
1,730 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,932 reviews
Profile Image for Erin.
57 reviews184 followers
August 10, 2007
you know what was the best part of these books? and i say books as in plural because there were so fucking many of them i can't sit still long enough to check them all off. and i DID read every single one. what else was there to do in middle school?

anyway, the best part of these books was brian's description of food. it was magnificent. it didn't just make you hungry, it made you crave weird ass things that nobody would ever dream about eating in middle school. nutted cheeses and flan bread and berry cakes and what-not; almost makes you want to be a sword weilding ferret yourself.

which was good because by the tenth book you started to realize there was a trend to the plotlines. something bad happens, small furry animals go on a quest. they fight a lot of little battles until one major battle which the good guys almost lose until, when all hope is lost, a giant contingent of allies created on the preceding journey show up to conquer evil: together.

still, i always finished satisfied. and a little hungry.
Profile Image for Bentley ★ Bookbastion.net.
242 reviews558 followers
August 4, 2017
See this review and more like it on www.bookbastion.net

This book was actually one of the first chapter books I read as a child, but because that was so long ago and at the start of my life as a reader, my brain had pretty much deleted all of the details of it - save for the fact that I enjoyed it when I was young. I'm happy to report that I found the book just as enjoyable as an adult reader; perhaps even more so, for the aspects of it I'm sure I appreciate more as an adult reader that would have flown over my head as a child.

As a middle grade fantasy story, this is quite well done. Jacques centers the plot around Cluny the Scourge's days-long siege of Redwall Abbey and uses this conflict to introduce some fairly standard fantasy tropes to young readers unfamiliar with the genre. Good vs. Evil; The Chosen One and Political Machinations between courts are all covered here in ways that remain faithful to the genre without boring the children that this series is written for. Particularly well done is the way the various woodland animals overcome their differences in order to work together against their common enemy, Cluny.

As an adult reader of this series, one thing I was surprised by was the way it does not flinch from violence or the devastating effects of warfare on the people who live and die during it. With a lot of middle grade books, there's a tendency for authors to sort of skim over death, or fake the reader out before resetting everything to the way things were before. Here, Jacques unabashedly kills off characters left and right, and it makes for some pretty compelling reading. Knowing that the danger is real and permanent in this series ups the ante considerably. At times I felt like I watching an all-animal version of Game of Thrones, which I suppose makes Matthias the Jon Snow of his world?

Speaking of the all-animal cast, I couldn't help but wonder where humans factored into all this. It's quite confusing to have riderless horsecarts and gigantic fortified Abbeys built from bricks and no mention of how they got there. Doing some digging on my own I read that Jacques intent was the show a world where humans didn't exist at all, but I didn't think that was particularly well conveyed given the fact that the entire cast called a place that would have been physically impossible for them to build their home.

The only other thing that brought my rating down was that in some moments it seemed as though the seriousness of the situation was forgotten by the characters. There were a number of moments where Redwall was under direct siege by the enemy, and certain characters were either eating or sleeping and otherwise unconcerned, which was a tiny bit frustrating. But these are minor complaints in a sea of other positives that makes it them very easy to overlook.

I love finding Middle Grade series that would speak to young boys in particular, as I think they are an oft-neglected demographic in the reading world. While the action, characters and plot movement in this series is sure to entertain most readers in any demographic, I think Matthias is a wonderful role model for young male readers in particular. I happily recommend this book to as a good starting point for fans new to fantasy.

★★★★ = 4/5 stars
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11.2k followers
April 30, 2011

2.0 stars. Now I admit upfront that YA fantasy is somewhat starting to lose its appeal to me, making me a harsher critic of what I think are weak efforts. At the same time, I still really enjoy the compelling, higher end stuff. Unfortunately, THIS A'INT IT!! YA is one thing, but I found this to be the “Y” est of YA fantasy books that I have read in quite a while. It was just too young.

Despite the fact that the book is fairly well written and decently paced, I found the plot itself to just be completely and unbelievably BORING:

Nothing new or fresh happened at all. This is your VERY standard, cookie-cutter “coming of age” heroic quest fantasy tale BUT with the amazingly original and novel twist of....are you ready for this....rather than human characters, the story is populated by MICE and other cute, mostly furry animals that just think and act human. WOW, what do you possibly say when confronted by such a mind-blowingly pedestrian concept? All I could think of was.....

It just lacked any sense of originality beyond trying to be a sweeter, kid-friendly adventure verson of "Animal Farm."

Now on the positive side, it is a fairly short book and I think that young children (or heavily medicated adults) may still enjoy it. Unfortunately, I am no longer able to be the former and did not have the foresight to be the latter as I read this book. Thus, I am left having to say that I do not think this is a story that will have you dancing in the streets.

Profile Image for Zeke Gill.
1 review
June 3, 2013
This was pretty much the book that got me hooked on reading because I used to hate it. I know, I know, Hate reading? how is that possible? The truth is, When you're eight or nine reading doesn't normally sound as good as watching a cartoon. But one glorious day I somehow stumbled across a cartoon of Redwall, and I LOVED it! I liked it so much that when the cartoon was over I had to know more about this amazing world, but I didn't have a way of watching the other movies so I was forced to do something I hated, reading. I got a copy of Redwall and I read it, and I read the next one, and the next one, and the next and the next one and so on. As I read my skill at reading improved, it was easier, I began to like it more. So I started reading more books such as The Series Of Unfortunate Events, Inkheart, Harry Potter, etc. And before I knew it I was wanting to read more, I was wanting to experience more, I was like a starving T-Rex let loose on a herd of unsuspecting herbivores! Ok, maybe not a T-Rex but you get the idea. I was submersed in this amazing world and instead of just seeing boring stacks of compressed paper I saw gateways into a realm of endless possibilities, and it was all thanks to this book. This simple tale of talking mice and evil rats, of snakes and stoats and adventure! And for that, I am grateful.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
January 14, 2018
Yea, verily, a young mouse yclept Matthias doth live peacefully in the walled city of Redwall, wherein reside all manner of goodhearted animals like mice, badgers, squirrels, etc. (not to be confused with the mean villain predators like rats and foxes). It comes to pass that their bucolic lifestyle is disturbed, nay, gravely threatened, by an incursion of an evil cohort of rats. Mayhap Matthias will rise to the occasion and become the heroic warrior that will save his people animals in their time of greatest need!

This is a fairly enjoyable middle grade/YA medieval fantasy in a world populated entirely by mice, rats and other woodland creatures, with nary a human in sight.

So I was maybe a little too old for this one when I read it; it's more for the younger teens and tweens. I think I might have adored it as a 10 or 12 year old. Anyway, it has many thousands of fans and has spawned like a million sequels, so if you haven't read it yet and it sounds interesting, you may want to give it a try. The language in Redwall isn't as archaic as my review may make it sound. :)
Profile Image for Sofia.
231 reviews6,967 followers
September 18, 2020
I'm insane, and here's evidence.

There are 22 books in this series. Each has about 400 pages (we'll take the median here). That makes 8,800 pages in the whole series.

I've read all of them five or six times.

That means I've read 44,000 to 52,800 pages of Redwall.

Sometimes you need pages and pages of mouthwatering descriptions of food and animals talking and singing and reciting rhymes.

I'm a cult follower. Fight me.
Profile Image for Annette.
752 reviews17 followers
September 7, 2020
Can't remember when I've been so disappointed by a book that came so highly recommended and clearly has such a strong following. Seriously: I love a good yarn about talking animals as much as the next person, but I do expect some basic level of believability, maybe a good character or two... a plot...
One of the things that especially niggled at me was that I couldn't figure out the *scale* of the Redwall world. Are they mice and rats living clandestine in a human-built world? If so, where are the humans? Are they human-sized rodents in a people-free world? Then why are the horses and hay-wagons enormous and the churches inhabited by mice? It was never made clear. If I'd been in the least attracted by the dialog, characters, or story line this would have been easy enough to ignore, but as it was, I barely made it through and crossed the rest of the series off of my "To Read" list.

Update, Summer 2020
Unfortunately the date on which I read this book is lost, but I know it was 12 to 15 years ago.
I now have a 9 yo daughter who is book-crazy, animal and fantasy crazy, and permanently in search of new things to read.
So I set aside my own feelings about Redwall and went ahead and suggested it to her. Sure enough, she Loved it. I was careful not to bias her before she started, especially as she is occasionally put off by the "talking animals wearing clothes" sub-genre. (She prefers the unclothed cats of the Warriors series!) Hopefully I will extract a review from her add to this surprisingly popular / commented upon post.
So while I am much more a fan of books that can be enjoyed by any age group (Narnia, George MacDonald's fantasies, etc), I will grudgingly accept that in this case I am simply the wrong audience.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,772 reviews208 followers
June 2, 2021
I did not read this book (or its many following books) when I was younger, so thought it was time to give this book a go. Simple, straightforward story, with simply-drawn characters. The good guys (mice, squirrels, etc.) are really good people, while the bad guy is a whisker-twirling nasty fellow. The two main protagonists are as far apart in their actions and views as they could possibly be: Martin, the young, somewhat clumsy but respectful, hardworking and kind mouse. Cluny, the evil, lying, murdering, conquering rat. The other characterizations are equally simple -- it's not hard to figure out who to cheer for in this story, which plays out as a medieval siege story, combined with a quest for a practically magical weapon for the good guys to use against the bad guy and his army of rats, weasels, stoats.

I enjoyed the story -- sometimes it's nice to read something where motives and actions are easy to understand, and it's obvious who to cheer for.
Profile Image for Brian.
652 reviews78 followers
January 3, 2015
I loved the Redwall series when I was young. When we'd go to visit my grandmother's house, I'd head to the library and grab a bit pile of books, and the Redwall books always featured among them. I read quite a few of them--up to Lord Brocktree, I think--before my interest waned, partially because the plots were all kind of blurring together, but also because I just moved on to other things. When my book group picked Redwall as the next book, I was eager to read it again, curious if it would hold up as I remembered it.

Well, as the star rating I gave it probably gives away, it didn't. When I was young, I didn't care as much about all the holes in the worldbuilding, content to forge ahead with the story and see how Matthias was going to defeat the evil Cluny the Scourge, but now that worldbuilding is almost my primary interest in fantasy there are too many questions that come up that annoy me for me to really immerse myself in the story.

For example, what are the relative sizes of the creatures? Are rats twice as big as mice like they should be, or are they roughly the same size? Constance can't be the mouse equivalent of forty feet tall like she would be in the real world, because she fits inside all the buildings. On the other hand, Julian the cat and Asmodeus the snake are the proper proportions and one cart with a horse can carry Cluny's whole army, so I could never get a real handle on how the characters were supposed to look in relation to each other.

Speaking of the horse and cart, who built it? Who built St. Ninian's? The church is mouse-sized, because Cluny is able to smash the lectern while talking behind it, but the cart is human-sized, because it can carry his army in it. Though the wheels can't be as large as they would proportionately be, because they're repurposed to Cluny's siege engine, and that wouldn't make any sense. The abbey is big enough for a thousand Sparra to live in it, but isn't described as being human-sized with mice dwarfed within its halls.

I suspect I'm supposed to just not think about it that much, honestly.

Worse than that, and a lot more obvious now that I'm older, is the extreme black-and-white moral essentialism that fills the book. All mice, squirrels, moles, voles, etc., are kindly and gentle creatures, who only fight in order to save themselves and would rather spend their time feasting and caring for others. Badgers and hares are fierce warriors, but use their strength for good and so can dwell among mice.

On the other hand, Rats, ferrets, weasels, and so on are evil to the core, unable to build or create anything good, and normally lazy and untrustworthy unless ruled by fear. Foxes are...well, they're honestly racist Romani stereotypes, with the thieving and the secret knowledge and the treachery all there. Sparra are dirty and violent and fight all the time and speak only broken English (well, "English") and are pretty much the quintessential stereotype of the lazy, violent Other who is always Taking Our Jobs, except with less job-taking and more murder. And the way Cluny was written, it was all I could do not to add "ARRRRRR, me hearties!" after every line of dialogue he had. There isn't a single shade of grey anywhere in this book.

Of course, this immediately leads to the Orc Baby Dilemma. If rats and weasels and so on are really all innately evil, then the proper solution is genocide, because letting them live will only perpetuate suffering and death. But genocide over what might happen is obviously beyond the pale, so the innately evil species end up living on until the next evil overlord comes through and whips them up into a conquering horde, and then more squirrels and mice and moles die until a hero kills the overlord and disperses the evil monsters.

Speaking of, I'm honestly surprised that shrews fell on the "good" side. Here's a quote from Wikipedia:
They are very active animals, with voracious appetites. Shrews have an unusually high metabolic rate, above that expected in comparable small mammals. Shrews typically eat 80–90% of their own body weight in food daily.
Based on their biology, shrews are the obvious candidate for a conquering horde simply because they need to eat so much. They'd be like locusts, swarming the countryside and literally eating everything in their paths.

You might say that this isn't the point, because these are children's books, but I'm pretty sure that children are capable of handling moral nuance. Even as a child, I remember thinking that the morality here was a bit simplistic. The only thing I missed was how problematic the implications were, and now that I'm older that's pretty much all that I see.

I can't even take refuge in the character arcs, because there aren't any. Matthias is the only character who undergoes any kind of change or growth, and it's more like a switch being flipped than an arc. He goes straight from novice monk (monks of what, exactly?) to having the soul of a warrior with basically no stage in between. He never has to wrestling with killing, or decide if this is really the life he wants for himself, or confront the Gunslinger's Dilemma, where only killing can protect civilization but by taking up the gunsword to kill he proves himself uncivilized. Nope, everything goes great and he even gets a wife out of the deal, which is honestly really creepy because he and Cornflower don't interact much and the Abbot gives her away like a milk cow.

Well, Cluny goes insane, but I'm not sure that counts as a character arc.

I am obviously no longer the audience for these books. There's just too much there for me to enjoy it in any capacity, and I would have stopped halfway through if I hadn't been reading it for my book club. It's a bit sad to know that part of my childhood is forever ruined for me, but you can't step in the same river twice.
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
737 reviews1,259 followers
September 28, 2013
Via Book Reviews by Niki Hawkes at www.nikihawkes.com

If I could say one thing about Jacques, it’s that he was a master storyteller! His books take you on grand adventures that rival the best fantasy novels out there. I’ve read them so many times the covers are falling off! An what’s more, the series sustains itself, with drawn out stories about downright fascinating characters. Bravery and Goodness can come from anywhere, and there are always evil-doers to stand up to. They are such well-rounded stories that I recommend them to even you hardcore fatasy buffs out there. They are often overlooked because people are expecting them to be like “Watership Down” or “Animal Farm”, and while those are worthwhile books in a certian context and place, they do not make for happy fantasy reading like these books do.

Redwall will make you forget you’re reading about animals. They boast creatively awesome representatives of different races. For example, mice are the humans of this world, sort of the standard by which we measure everyone else. The rabbits are the comic relief, and always put off a dwarf-like sentiment. The otters are the graceful archers, and very elf-like in their mannerisms. Even the villians are special – with rats as the cannon fodder and henchmen (orcs) and other creatures such as foxes and weasels who plot against our heroes.

All in all, I can credit this series for sparking my interest in books when I was in the fifth grade. I saw one in the library, and started reading smaller books with the hopes of working my way up to one someday. These are excellent adventures for children, and I’m a living example that they encourage literacy at young ages. As an adult I still love them, and am long overdue for another reread!

Word of warning: do not read these books if you are hungry… you’ll see.

by Niki Hawkes
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,594 followers
March 24, 2022
*** 4.25 ***

Before I start, I need to say that this book is written for kids, and I have put my childhood behind me several decades ago 😃. Having said that, I try to read books written for different age groups and audiences all the time, and still try to be objective, attempting to look at the work with the eyes of those it is intended for.

Redwall. Just finished it and really enjoyed. Already ordered the first five books for my nieces. Bright girls, but I can't figure out how to entice them into reading...

I loved all the different characters, and really enjoyed the old school valiant hero and terrible villain:) I also liked that, despite being written for kids, the author didn't shy away from death and pain. Actions have consequences and kids, who often believe themselves invulnerable, eventually have to deal with the changes that come from the passing of someone, and that life changes, but keeps on going...

Matthias starts out as an adorable pup of a mouse, and ends up a good and formidable young adult mouse:) He is the protagonist and you can't help but adore him, together with Constance the Badger and the old Methuselah mouse... The second favorite of mine, Silent Sam, is plain cute, and the Sparrow and Rabbit are great supporting characters! But the star of the show is definitely the writing style and the enchanted atmosphere of this world. The descriptions are brisk, but just enough to give you a feel of the forest and its inhabitants, while the banter is plentiful and lively. The whole book reads very smoothly and there is no chance of you getting lost along the way.

If your kids are good with understanding different accents, I would strongly recommend the audiobook! It is perfect!

I hope to read more in this enchanting world and I am almost certain, the author will deliver 👍🙂
Profile Image for Gwen (The Gwendolyn Reading Method).
1,669 reviews475 followers
January 1, 2019
Uh. Upon rereading, this entire book is just bad guys getting slaughtered in very gruesome ways. And usually ended with a cheerful little exclamation point. Kinda chilling.
Profile Image for Ann.
511 reviews
January 1, 2008
I managed to finish this just in time for count it "as read" in 2007! With (how appropriate) 7 minutes to spare lol:>
I really enjoyed this book!!:D I was amazed at how vibrant the characters were and how attached to them I felt. Had I known the plot going into the book, I think I would have been very hesitant as the story centers around an attack from Cluny the Scourge (an evil rat) and his horde on the peaceful and caring Abby of Redwall mice and other woodland creatures - for 350 pages. Now, that said, for whatever reason the story did not drag or seem like it was being spread out too much! Wonderful!!:) Jacques manages to weave in delightful characters (or not-so-delightful, but that's the point) and several sub-plots that are really just as important as the main plot. And even though I had a strong inkling of what the ending would be, I never felt too confident in my assumptions and was surprised by how events came about to get to the end.
I mentioned this would possibly be a good story for LOTR fans, because of the focus on the details of battle without it feeling boring or repetitive, and also because the book is full of characters and told from various points of view but doesn't feel confused but does feel like you get to know each character.
I'm very curious to read more of the Redwall series, and am so happy to finally have read a Brian Jacques book and met Matthias and Basil and Silent Sam;)

BOOK TWO (12/15/2007)
Alright! Book II done! Things still manage to move along at a quick pace. The characters are wonderful and the plot building. Some parts have been a little sad, but the cute and warm parts have been more.:) I’m very curious to find out what the conclusion will be and how things will play out. And I’m very much looking forward to meeting the snowy owl!!!:D

BOOK ONE (12/5/2007)
I've finished the first book/part! I'm pleasantly surprised because it's nearly a third of the way through the book but it stills feels like things are in the early stages without seeming like the story is dragging. I wonder if this is because the story is - in a way - doubled because we see it from multiple perspectives, resulting in learning what's occuring from both "the good side" and "the bad side."
I adore a new character, the "Stag-Hare!" What fun to write he must have been!:)
I'll try to write another update when I finish the second part - which, hopefully, will be sooner than another month!


I am finally venturing into the world of Brian Jacques! I know Xt speaks highly of his books, so I am looking forward to reading one myself!
Profile Image for Leila.
442 reviews212 followers
November 30, 2014

The characters in "Redwall" and all the following books in the series are a various mixture of animals from as small as mice to the largest which are badgers. The theme throughout is good versus evil as the Redwallers and all their many friends face and stand up to and fight the “wicked” characters; mainly sea faring rats. Brian Jacques wrote this unique series for teen-agers but they are also enjoyed by the young at heart such as me.

Brian, sadly no longer with us; narrated his tales to provide so much for the reader. There is action, adventure and the drama of battles. In short; excitement in abundance within all these books as time passes and the reader meets the descendants of the original characters. Always included in every book are the spiritual values of love, companionship, kindness, gentleness, respect, humour, bravery and compassion, all set against the drama of the many encounters with the harassment and cruelty of their “evil enemies. The author brings the memorable characters of this first of the series and each and all of the following, to complete and vivid life. I loved this book and went on to read every one of the series many years ago, I have just begun to read them all again starting with Redwall; an enjoyable experience. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Brittany McCann.
1,827 reviews429 followers
June 26, 2023
This is a delightful read. It is a book that is timeless.

Although geared toward a younger audience, it is thoroughly enjoyable for all ages.

Brian Jacques was very clever in including his little puzzles and mysteries to work out with the characters. It has echoes of early Holmes mysteries and can be compared to Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.

I will return to this one in the near future and enjoy it with my son. Definitely worth experiencing at least once in life.

4 Stars
Profile Image for Katja Labonté.
Author 19 books192 followers
June 20, 2023
5+ stars (7/10 hearts). I first discovered the Redwall TV Show by accident. My sisters and I had seen brief clips of the show in Treehouse’s little “you’re watching Treehouse!” jingle, and they came across the show on YouTube earlier this year. They told my I’d love it and to watch it, but I was hesitant. I finally bit and fell head over heels in love. The show is EPIC, y’all. Seriously, one of the best ever. WATCH IT.

When I finally realized there was a book, I was duty-bound to read it, of course, because what bookworm watches movies before reading the book?? (I KNOW, I MESSED UP SO BAD). But it worked out because I wouldn’t have loved the book as much if I didn’t know the show. They are VERY similar, though.

I love the setting so much. Redwall is such a sweet, happy place. Jacques’ writing style is simple and strong, and I adore his descriptions of the nature around the abbey. (Upon reread, I did notice that this book’s writing is weaker than the other books, and Jacques even forgets up a character’s gender a couple times, but still… the descriptions, the beginning, the end, the riddles, the FEELS—it’s soooo good and I simply love it.) The feel of the book is just sweet and autumnal and foresty and I am HERE FOR IT, y’all. I really love the whole abbey trope and the simple medieval feel of the setting.

The characters are the best part of the book. Humble Matthias, afire with love for his friends and abhorrence for evil; sweet, hardworking Cornflower, ready to serve with words and deeds; strong, sharp-spoken, but kindly Constance; wild-tongued, clever Basil with his teasing and love for justice; peaceful Abbott, wise old Methuselah, quick Jess, cute little Sam, passionate Warbeak, and all the other lovely Woodlanders… And the villains are terrifyingly real—Cluny is the stuff nightmares are made of, and his rodents are all different in personality and wickedness.

The book is more violent than the show (see content) and errs slightly more on the fantasy side, but it’s nonmagical. There is no religion at all in this book, since it is animals and not humans; but the point of the plot is that the founder of the Abbey, Martin the Warrior, left his sword and shield hidden behind riddles to be solved when danger threatened Redwall—a complex set of things that has a fantasical flavour but is explicitly stated not to be magical. There are several places where the characters “talk” to Martin (in one Matthias asks for help; something happens and he claims it’s a sign from Martin); and a few instances where they “hear” him, but it’s unclear if he actually does or if it’s just a dream.

The plot is super cool—a group of vicious killer rats with one crazy, horribly cruel leader who accidentally comes across Redwall and decides its to be his new castle… and the inhabitants his slaves. Naturally, the animals are not keen on the idea and struggle valiantly to keep their freedom. The constant battle of good against evil, the places where the defenders’ lives hang on a thread, the moments where all seems lost, and then the wonderful, perfect, tear-wrenching ending… it’s all so real, and so emotional. And I love the tiny, tiny thread of romance… and the much greater theme of love and friendship! The book really does a fantastic job of highlighting protection and peace, violence and defence, and what makes a true warrior. Overall, this is a definite 5 star read and I so want to binge the rest of the series!

Content: Quite a bit of violence (medium graphic, violent actions done + some wounds described). Mentions of different kinds of alcohol & drinking. Mention that a girl mouse would be “a pretty little one for Cluny.” Mention of “Old Mother Nature.” Mention of tempting Dame Fortune. A fox pretends to have magic powers. One character is a conjuror. Some “white lying.” Cluny calls himself a “God of war.” When one henchman dies Cluny tells him to “tell the devil Cluny sent you.” Language: “by the teeth of hell”; “what in heaven was that”; “what in hell”; “went like a bat out of hell”; “hell’s teeth”; “Satan’s nose”; “by Satan’s whiskers”; “fought like a devil”; “smell to high heaven”; “damned”; “what in heaven’s name”; “as if the divvil himself were chasing me”; “by the claws of hellhound”; “damn”; “hell’s whiskers”; “what the devil”; “gosh”; “hellfire”; “you devils”; “as hot as hell’s furnace”; “by golly”; “what the devil”; “good lord”; “darn”; “blasted”; “deader than an icicle in hell”; “show them Old Harry”; “little devil.” Edited, excellent for ages 12+.

A Favourite Quote: “Matthias, don’t be ashamed, I know why you cry and grieve. It is because you are kind and good, not a hard-hearted pitiless rat like Cluny. Please listen to me. Even the strongest and bravest must sometimes weep. It shows they have a great heart, one that can feel compassion for others.”
A Favourite Humorous Quote: Some of the rats were really hopeless climbers in Cluny’s estimation. There had even quite a bit of jostling and slipping, and as for that idiot Cheesethief, imagine waiting until you were six yards above ground to find out that you were afraid and had no head for heights. Cluny thought angrily that if there hadn’t been such an urgent need for silence, he’d have given him what for!
Profile Image for Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨.
1,097 reviews675 followers
December 17, 2019

✨ Popsugar Reading Challenge 2019✨
✨✨A book set in an abbey, cloister, monastery, vicarage, or convent✨✨

I remember watching Redwall on Saturday morning with my brother when I was a child, so finding out that it was based on a book was a real treat! I really enjoyed the characters and the classical, timeless themes of good vs. evil and coming together against a common foe.


Nostalgia: I always enjoy things that take me back to my childhood and this book certainly did that!

Children's book?: This is marketed as a middle grade book (as far as I'm aware) and the animated TV show was definitely for kids. But this book? I found myself cringing at some of the deaths in this book - in the best way! People today are so scared of showing our children anything remotely violent/dangerous/uncomfortable etc., so we create a world of unprepared adults, who know very little of the realities of life. Books like this is necessary because it doesn't hide anything.

Cluny: The evil rat, Cluny the Scourge, was a truly villainous and evil character! He was cunning, unscrupulous and diabolical in all the best villain-ways!

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Profile Image for Pat the Book Goblin .
423 reviews131 followers
February 20, 2018
When I was in Elementary School I LOVED REDWALL! Redwall was the book that got me into reading when I was a kid. Brain Jacques (pronounced Jakes) was my favorite author. Not only did I love animals (I had a zoo on our front porch consisting of catfish, snakes, crickets, salamanders, two Chinese hamsters, tadpoles, a rabbit, frogs, a snapping turtle, you name it I had it) but I also loved the Medieval Ages, SO put these two loves together and BAM! Redwall!

I loved Matthias. He was an awesome character and he became the "bar-set-high" I matched all other characters to. If the book I read wasn't as good as Redwall, I tossed it. The only other series that ranked up there for me as a kid was the Boxcar Children, the Nightwing series, and Harry Potter. (Possibly a few others but I can't think of them atm).

Before Brian died, my mother wrote to him thanking him for what he did for me. He sent back a long letter, signed; a picture, signed; and a bookmark, signed. Oh, I was happier than a pig in crap! This only made me love him even more than I already did. When I was a teenager and I heard he died, it was like a family member died. In his honor, I bought every one of his books in hardcover, and I read them all again.

Redwall is magic. Pure magic. If you have not read these books you need to. If you are a teacher reading this, take The Little Prince off your list, that you've been reading for ten years in a row, and have your students read Redwall. They will love it!
Profile Image for Ryan.
7 reviews2 followers
April 23, 2010
Now, for those of you who read this book and liked it, I have absolutely no problem with that. I actually thought it was an okay book myself. A heroic mouse by the name of Matthias lives peacefully in Redwall, an enclosed city within a fortress. The residents include mice, squirrels, badgers, otters, and all sorts of other small animals. However, an army of rats attack in envy of stealing the fortress. Matthias must become a warrior and obtain a sword to fight back at the army. Now, at this point, you might be wondering what kind of problem I could ever have with such a great concept and plot. You want to know don't you? Well here it is: foxes are villains in this series. Now, with the hero being a mouse, you could really expect that, wouldn't you? Well, guess what? There are NO good foxes in the ENTIRE series, even though there is such a thing as a good cat. Is that because foxes are cunning and sly characters? That's not always considered a BAD thing! I can name a few stories that have foxes as the protagonist or an innocent side character, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, Fantastic Mr. Fox, or Fox Woman. There was NO excuse, and I can't stand to read about a bunch of foxes being slain or murdered for treachery. If you've read my profile, you know that foxes are my favorite animals of all time (okay, maybe not that much, but I still like them a lot), and reading these books were pure torture to me! I may hate these books, but that still doesn't mean that you have to. If you don't like foxes as much as I do, or in this case, ferrets, rats, weasels, cats, and stoats, I would highly suggest this book to you, because you'll probably like it, unlike me. Final verdict: decent book, but I just can't stand to read them (if that makes any sense).
Profile Image for Olivier Delaye.
Author 1 book221 followers
August 20, 2022
In an abbey called Redwall there lived a mouse among mice. His name was Matthias and he was a novice monk whose dream was to become as great a hero as Martin the warrior of legend who, along with Abbess Germaine, co-founded the titular abbey. Then one day a one-eyed rat who went by the name of Cluny the Scourge showed up in the neighborhood with his army of miscreants intent on pillaging Redwall and killing anyone who would oppose him. Problem was, at least for our monocular antagonist, those abbey mice were no chickens and did not lack for pluck and resourcefulness when it came to defending their beloved abbey. And so ensued a war of attrition of sorts between rats and mice, along with each side’s allies.

It quickly became apparent that the only thing that would tip the scales in the mice’s favor and put an end once and for all to the scourge that was Cluny would be a hero the likes of which Redwall hadn’t seen since Martin the Warrior. But Martin was dead and buried. And his sword was now the property of a creature far more dangerous and deadly than Cluny the Scourge. Who in their right mind would be so brave as to take up the mantle (along with the shield and sword) of the late hero? Who would be so bold and fearless, and perhaps a little reckless too? Matthias, that’s who!
Profile Image for Celeste.
933 reviews2,381 followers
March 11, 2022
This series was my one of my first forays into fantasy when I was in elementary school. Redwall, Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Ender’s Game were all defining elements in my childhood. I’ve loved it for more than two decades. And yet, unlike the rest, it’s a series that I haven’t revisited as an adult, because some part of me feared that it wouldn’t hold up as well as the other books that shaped me as a reader. I couldn’t have been more mistaken. Redwall proved itself to be even more delightful and charming and enthralling than I remembered. The stakes were higher than I recalled, and I loved every single second I spent in Redwall Abbey and Mossflower Wood. I’ve read plenty of adult fantasy that didn’t have my heart racing and breaking to the extent of this book. With how well it has stood the test of time, I honestly think every fantasy lover should give at least one of the books a try. It’s a huge series, and I don’t know that I’ll read it in its entirely, but I’m looking forward to revisiting Mossflower Wood again in the not-too-distant future.
Profile Image for Amber.
1,029 reviews
December 30, 2014
This was a pretty good read. When Redwall abbey is under attack by cluny the scourge and his horde of vicious rats, it is up to a young mouse named Mathias and the other woodland creatures to stop them. Will they succeed? Be sure to read this book and find out. I reccomend this book to fans of fantasy and ya books. Definitely check it out.
Profile Image for Medollga.
298 reviews36 followers
January 25, 2023
Now THIS was my childhood and to this day no mouse will be killed in my household

It was the first book ever that I've read by myself, completely from cover to cover (not some short stories or fairytales) at the age of 6 years old. From here on out my love for books truly started. I managed to collect almost the whole series thanks to my older sister, who gifted me these books for every occasion, big or small.

This is an immersive story, filled with interesting characters, great world building, important life lessons, epic battles between good or evil animals, comical situations, tales of friendship, love, bravery and kindness. But most importantly, FOOD! The amount of unusual high cuisine these mice consumed is baffling, but every time there was food on the page, I wanted to eat it with all my heart.

If you have children, consider gifting them this book. Highly recommend!

Profile Image for Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance.
5,871 reviews292 followers
March 22, 2015
It’s the rare book that my sons have recommended to me...the rare book whose author I have actually met and heard speak and adored...the rare book that is on hundreds of Must-Read lists...the rare book that has all these things going for it and yet remains on my TBR heap.

I was finally motivated to pull it out of the pile and give it a thorough read when my 1001 Children’s Books list chose it for a group read in February.

Why, why, why, I thought as I finished the last page, why didn’t I read this one with my sons? And is it too late to propose a readaloud with them at ages 27 and 30?

Don’t make the same mistake I did. It’s a story that will be fabulous as a readaloud with your children, even if they are too old to actually sit in your lap. Do it now. I urge you. You will not regret it.

Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
435 reviews482 followers
March 9, 2022
4.5 stars

I had never heard of Redwall until my co-blogger, Celeste, suggested it to me, but after finishing a recent buddy read of said story with Celeste and TS, I am confident in saying that I would have adored this as a child. And despite that childhood being in the rear mirror, I still loved this as an adult and can't wait to explore more of this world.
Profile Image for Bookwraiths.
698 reviews1,067 followers
January 11, 2013
As an adult, I found this book ok; it was the standard fantasy cliches that abound without anything especially new that caught my interest. However, since this was a bedtime story for my kids, I want to add that they enjoyed it more and would probably have said it was at least 3 stars if not 4.
Profile Image for T.R. Preston.
Author 4 books125 followers
January 15, 2023
This book had no business being this fantastic. This seriously blew me away. I think it's past time it gets a faithful, quality adaptation.

So many fun characters. Constance is objectively superior, though.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
719 reviews886 followers
March 28, 2022
Middle Grade March Buddy Read with Celeste and Eon

I never had the chance to read this while I was growing up. For one, I was already touching my teens when this was first released, and I'm also pretty sure I've never come across these titles at the local bookstores or libraries. I've been hearing a lot about it in the community for the past few years and how much it meant to those readers who grew up on these books. My co-blogger, Celeste, also loves them and with that it became one of the chosen titles for our Middle Grade March BR.

I could almost immediately see why these books were so precious and dear to young readers. And even as an adult reader, I found the book incredibly wholesome and cozy, and my heart basked in those feelings. I've a fondness for woodland animals and the way Jacques anthropomorphised these creatures while retaining their natural attributes was simply wonderful.

Being a foodie, I was looking forward to the food descriptions which everyone said was one of the highlights of this series. I'm glad to say that I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I'm already eyeing the Redwall Cookbook, which has the most adorable illustrations.

This won't be the last Redwall book I'll be reading, that's for sure.
Profile Image for Jesse.
276 reviews90 followers
July 1, 2007
Ok, its regular sized animals living in a human sized world. Where are the humans? Why is there a human sized horse and wagon that the evil rats ride on? These are just some of the questions I pondered as I read through this snooze fest.

This book is quite literally a regular mouse picking up a tiny little sword, and fighting various things(snakes, rats, my will to live!). Now if the image of a little mouse holding a tiny sword doesn't want to make you retch at the absurd "oh how cute" nature of the story, then I don't know what will.

I just can't recommend this book, even to kids. When I look at kids buying this book I think, "were all the good and cool books already taken?" Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, John Bellair, Philip Pullman,...etc as the list goes on and on of people who wrote and are writing more interesting stories than members of the rodent and bird species having a cute little war with evil weasles and rats. Thats why I have to say I hated this book.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
4,619 reviews177 followers
February 25, 2008
I read Chris's copy. He brought it to the library and said, "Read the real thing and not that other garbage." I guess that's a step up from "read this or die." I really have readers looking out for me, eh?

It took me a good while to get through this, but I'm glad I did. I've now read a classic and I can agree with Chris that one should read the "real thing" as well as the graphic novel adaptation. What the graphic novel missed in distilling down 300-plus pages was the descriptions: Jacques writes some lovely prose, with sun-drenched landscapes to rival L.M. Montgomery's, and meals that would make Laura Ingalls Wilder jealous. Plus, the similes: "The reply sounded like the whisper of wet silk across a smooth slate"; "gliding like a cloud's shadow cast upon the ground by the moon."

I admired the use of three plotlines at once (Cluny's story, Matthias's story, and Redwall's story) to keep me turning pages. I liked the many brave female characters -- boys didn't get to have all the fun! I also liked the different animals' dialects, and the short chapters and many breaks in the text. The action was satisfying and helped balance some of the potential cutesyness (a mouse may drink berry juice out of an acorn cup, but soon a rat will be speared with an arrow). The relentless logic in my head had to be quelled ("can a squirrel really sit on a mouse's shoulder? can a sparrow really carry a sword? ack! suspsend disbelief! suspend disbelief!"), and at first I had a hard time believing in Matthias's seemingly instant transformation from bumbling apprentice to fierce warrior. I'm not sure if I will pursue the rest of the series; it may be time to read a "Warriors" book while I'm still in Animal Mode.
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