I picked up the Kindle Edition of Redwall awhile ago when it was Amazon’s free-for-the-day list and I’m so glad I did! Here’s my review.
Book: Redwall (Redwall, Book One)
Author: Brian Jacques
More info: Amazon listing here*
Plot Overview: This book is the first in the Redwall series, recommended for ages 9-12. The story is set in Mossflower, a fantasy world entirely inhabited by animals. The inhabitants of Redwall Abbey, led by the heroic Matthias the Mouse, must defend their home against the evil Cluny the Scourge and his horde of rats.
Pros: I really enjoyed this book. When I first picked it up wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was hoping for an engaging, Narnia-esque story. While Redwall doesn’t contain any of the allegorical elements of Narnia, it has the same charm of a story about talking animals, a simple life, and the triumph of good over evil. One of my favorite things about the book was the vast array of forest creatures and the differences in their “cultures.” There are unique dialects (the mole-speech is especially fun), personality traits, and methods of government. While the different creatures don’t always get along well, they are willing to work together for the greater good.
The main character, Matthias, is brave and honorable. He is willing to sacrifice himself for his home and loved ones and shows great perseverance. The other inhabitants of the Abbey also display courage, mercy, and selflessness. Most of the animals in Mossflower place high value on family and tradition, and desire simple things like good food, laughter, and friendship.
Cons: I didn’t find any negative elements per say, though there are a few things that should be approached with caution. There is quite a bit of violence and death; while the descriptions are not gratuitous, the story doesn’t shy away from war and casualties. Quite a few animals are killed by a giant, creepy snake.
The main villain, Cluny the Scourge, is undoubtedly evil and particularly vicious. He behaves callously toward his own “friends” and employs dishonorable methods of war. Fear is Cluny’s main weapon, evident in his appearance and fighting techniques, and his character might be too scary for younger children with vivid imaginations.
Summary: Redwall is a wonderful fantasy novel for older children that adults can enjoy as well. The story is well-written and nicely paced, though not a “thriller” by any means. I found it to be engaging and fun with some creative details and interesting characters. There is a clear delineation between good and evil and and moral values are upheld. I’d definitely recommend it for older children (those able to deal with the war/death themes) and any adult who enjoys fantasy. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series and enjoying another adventure in Mossflower.