Redwall series (Jacques)

Next up: (unfurls a foot-long list) “Redwall”, “Mossflower”, “Mattimeo”, “Mariel of Redwall”, “Salamandastron”, “Martin the Warrior”, “The Bellmaker”, “Outcast of Redwall”, “Pearls of Lutra”, “The Long Patrol”, “Marlfox”, “The Legend of Luke”, “Lord Brocktree”, “Taggerung”, “Triss”, “Loamhedge”, “Rakkety Tam”, “High Rhulain”, “Eulalia!”, “Doomwyte”, “The Sable Queen”, and “The Rogue Crew” by Brian Jacques.

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Do you guys have any idea how important these books are to my childhood?  Of course you don’t, I haven’t told you yet.  Suffice to say, if I ever have a kid, these are going to be some of the first books I read to him/her.  I love them.  I actually haven’t had the chance to read the ones past “Loamhedge”, but the rest of the series are extremely near and dear to my heart.

Summary

The Redwall books are about a world of anthropomorphized animals.  The most common are mice, squirrels, badgers, hares, moles, shrews, otters– the ‘good guys’ largely– and weasels, rats, foxes, ferrets, snakes– the ‘bad guys’.  The good guys often live in Redwall Abbey, or Salamandastron.

Each book has the good guys facing some sort of catastrophe, like a siege on Redwall Abbey, or kidnappings, or the like.  Very frequently they face some hostile army of vermin who, having heard of the ‘riches’ of Redwall, want to take it for themselves.  And honestly, after reading just one of the descriptions of the feasts they have at Redwall, it’s easy to see why someone would want to live there.  Aaaanyway, there is often some sort of prophecy or semi-mystical ‘thing’ (a vision or what-have-you) that helps the good guys solve their problem.  Martin the Warrior is often part of this semi-mystical ‘thing’, and heroes in the books usually come by his sword at some point.  The sword is almost like an Excalibur sort of affair, where it passes only to those worthy of it.  Usually, it’s a young animal whose story is part coming-of-age and growing to meet the responsibility of Martin’s sword.

My thoughts

I’mma try to tone down the fangirling, but you guys should know you’re dealing with someone who played Redwall Abbey with her Beanie Babies.  I love these books.  I’ve kept my copies, hoarding them until I can pass them down to my theoretical children.

Jacques has created a very lush world with Mossflower Wood, Redwall Abbey, and Salamandastron.  Each animal species has a specific and unique culture.  The moles have a distinct dialect, the hares are ‘stiff-upper-lip’ British types, otters are playful rogue-types… It’s a lot of fun and really makes the world seem like a world, for all that it’s likely on a much smaller scale than ours (can you imagine a mouse-sized boat traversing the Atlantic? Yikes).  I was always really amused by the hares, though, and “The Long Patrol” was a favorite. “Pearls of Lutra” was another, because I love otters.

This series is kind of the reason why “Watership Down” was a huge disappointment for child me.  It sets the bar high for anthropomorphic animal stories.  Where “Watership Down” was solemn and only mildly anthropomorphized, the Redwall books are full of mice wearing abbot’s robes, badgers wearing armor, hares with berets… And it is generally a joyful adventure.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a fair amount of darkness to these books– it isn’t unusual for a number of characters to die– but I never left these books feeling depressed by the events occurring within it.

It doesn’t surprise me at all that there is a Redwall cookbook out there, considering how many feasts are described over the series.  Redwall knows how to eat, lemme tell you.  Everything sounds amazing and delicious and I would pay good money to go to a Redwall dinner.  For the food, and the entertainment.  The books are also replete with poetry and songs.  They’ve got a little bit of everything, really.  I can’t recommend these books enough.  If you’ve children, get them these.  If you don’t mind children’s lit yourself, read them.

Rating

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Warnings

Mild violence (they are kids’ books, though, so it’s nothing graphic).

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