Redwall is a series of fantasy novels by Brian Jacques. It is the title of the first book of the series, published in 1986, the name of the Abbey featured in the book, and the name of an animated TV series based on three of the novels (Redwall, Mattimeo, and Martin the Warrior), which first aired in 1999. The books are primarily aimed at older children, but have fans of all ages. There have been nineteen novels and two picture books published as of Autumn 2006. Doomwyte, the twentieth novel, was released on October 16, 2008, with another book, The Sable Quean, which was supposed to be released Autumn 2009, but then delayed twice. It was released on February 23, 2010. As of June 10, 2010, the twenty-second novel has been announced on the author's site under the name The Rogue Crew and involves a band of Sea Otters & Long Patrol hares who are trying to cut pirates off from Redwall Abbey.
The book series does not chronicle any one particular timeframe. Rather, it is set in many different periods in the history of the world of Redwall, which entails Mossflower woods, surrounding islands, and a land called Southsward. Some of the books focus on characters who, in other volumes, are historical figures (e.g., Martin the Warrior's father, Luke, in The Legend of Luke). Typically, those books are set before the founding of Redwall Abbey. There is a timeline in the Redwall series, but it generally places the books in a completely different order than the order in which they were written. However, there were two phases when the novels were published in chronological order.
There have been many adaptations including the animated TV series and an opera.
The characters in the books are all anthropomorphic animals of some sort, almost all of whom are capable of speech (with a few exceptions like the horse in Redwall), which Jacques renders as various dialects of English. With a few rare exceptions, such as the monitor lizards from The Pearls of Lutra, other reptiles and the Jerbilrats of Loamhedge, the flora and fauna in the Redwall books are all native to Britain.
Despite the fact that Redwall is a fantasy series, it contains no elements of magic. Occasionally, elements of the supernatural or paranormal appear, mainly in two forms. First, the ghost of Martin the Warrior or another long-dead hero will often appear in hallucinations, dreams or visions to one of the woodland creatures (usually, but not always, an Abbey-dweller) and impart information. The information is always accurate (though often in the form of a riddle) and is of a nature such that it must have come from the ghost of Martin the Warrior and could not be the result of a creature "solving" a mystery in its sleep and dreaming about Martin the Warrior on its own. Also, some creatures in the books are called "seers" and claim to be able to see the future. While some of these "seers" turn out to be frauds, others such as the seers of Outcast of Redwall, Loamhedge, Taggerung and Lord Brocktree are quite real and play a key part in the turning of events in these books. Virtually all of the seers, both real and fraudulent, are vermin, who are generally considered more primitive and superstitious than woodlanders and other goodly creatures and are almost always the "bad guys." However, in the book Tribes of Redwall Mice, both Martin the Warrior and Abbess Germaine can foresee the future. Also present is the sword of Martin the Warrior, which is believed by many creatures (especially vermin, who in some instances try to steal it) to be magical. This sword was forged from the fragment of a shooting star (meteorite) at Salamandastron by Badger Lord Boar The Fighter in the book Mossflower.
Though the primary location is an abbey, and a church of St. Ninian's makes appearances, there has been only little mention of a creator or godlike deity. This occurs throughout the series such as in the book Redwall where Basil Stag Hare comments saying, "Good Lord," once throughout the story. There is occasional reference to a 'Spirit of the Seasons', but whether this is a personal being or an abstract poetic device is not elaborated. In The Legend of Luke, a song is sung about how "St. Ninian's" is a misnomer from a sign that originally read "This ain't Ninian's!," after a mouse named Ninian refused to help his wife build a house; some of the lettering later wore off, leaving ironically the words "s ain't Ninian's," although the church is mentioned as having a lady chapel. However, there have been at least three mentions of the devil, Hell and other demons. After sending one of his minions to death, Cluny the Scourge roars "Tell the devil Cluny sent you!" On another occasion Constance the Badger makes a reference to "Hell's whiskers." According to the ferret Killconey, the snake Asmodeus is named for "the devil himself (the name itself, Asmodeus, is a reference to Asmodai)." There are also numerous references to "Hellsgate" throughout the series. While these references from Redwall, the first book, were made before the series had truly realized itself, Taggerung makes references to an underworld again when a devilish character called "Vulpuz" is mentioned by one seer as the ruler of Hellgates and the ancestor of foxes. In The Bellmaker, Mariel states, in the face of almost- certain death of her and her companions, that "the only way for them to go now is up". In several of the later novels, whenever a creature dies, characters make references to "The Dark Forest" or "Hellgates" as places where creatures go after death. The Dark Forest however, has not been explained further.
Books in the series often contain one or more "monsters," but these are not mythical creatures, rather being some type of ferocious predator. Monsters have included snakes, and adders (from Redwall, Doomwyte, and Triss), large carnivorous fish such as pikes, and sharks (from Marlfox, The Bellmaker, Triss, Lord Brocktree, and Mossflower), a plesiosaur-type creature (from High Rhulain), a wolverine (from Rakkety Tam), a scorpion (from Mariel of Redwall) and a giant sea serpent (from Salamandastron and High Rhulain though mentioned very very briefly in the latter), along with an eel (from Mossflower, Taggerung, The Long Patrol, and The Sable Quean), a giant lobster (Mariel of Redwall) and crabs (from Mossflower and Lord Brocktree).
A typical book in the Redwall series details a particular period in the history of Redwall Abbey. In all but a few cases, the book is about the inhabitants of Redwall and the surrounding Mossflower Woods. Usually, there are at least two different stories going on. For example, a typical book may relate the story of a small expedition by a group of woodlanders, as well as the story of a large group of Redwallers at home fending off a vermin horde. Because of the widely spaced storylines (chronologically speaking), very few creatures are mentioned in more than one or two novels, except in a passing historical sense. One notable exception is Martin the Warrior, who appears in all books, even if, most of the time, only in spirit form or no more than as a passing historical mention. Additionally, Martin's sword is present in all of the novels. Though he is not mentioned by name in Lord Brocktree, Martin is referred to in Brocktree's dream as "a young mouse bearing a beautiful sword." A second exception is the badger Cregga Rose-Eyes, who appears in three books: The Long Patrol, Marlfox, and Taggerung.
Other recurring elements and characters in the Redwall series include Badger Rulers and Badger Mothers, "Dibbuns" (the Redwall name for infant woodlanders), a Skipper of Otters, Foremoles, hares, helpful birds, one or more Log-a-logs (a shrew tribe leader), and mouth-wateringly detailed descriptions of (almost entirely vegetarian) food, which are called "vittles."
There have been twenty-one books published so far, with The Sable Quean having been released in February 2010. As of June 2010, a twenty-second book, The Rogue Crew, has been announced.
The prequels to Redwall are not released in any chronological order, however, all of the sequels, including Mattimeo, were released in the order in which they occur. No prequels have been released since Lord Brocktree in 2000. The books are listed below in their chronological order within the fictional world of Redwall, with publication dates noted.
The first four chronologically ordered books (Lord Brocktree, Martin the Warrior, Mossflower and The Legend of Luke) take place before the construction of Redwall Abbey, while the fifth, Outcast of Redwall, takes place in the same time as Mossflower and during the construction of the abbey. Many or most of the books that take place before Redwall was constructed are written in the format of a story told by a visitor--for example, Martin the Warrior is told as a story by a descendant of Brome, who was visiting Redwall. These books are organized by the main story, not by the "actual" time period, which is almost always after the construction of Redwall.
Most books that are adjacent to each other in chronological order take place within a generation or so of each other (as evidenced by mentions of past characters in the later books). It is notable that, by contrast, there is an indefinitely long chronological gap between Salamandastron and Redwall; Mariel of Redwall and The Bellmaker, inversely, both feature the same cast with a short span of time between them.
In the Redwall universe, species almost invariably (with very few exceptions, including change of character mid-story) determines a creature's nature, whether good or evil. Some common noble species in Redwall include mice, otters, moles, hares, squirrels, hedgehogs, shrews, birds, voles, and badgers, while common vermin include rats, foxes, weasels, ferrets, snakes, stoats, ermine, sables, and wildcats. However, many other varieties of species also make appearances throughout the novels as well. Dormice also appear sometimes but are rarely major characters. On numerous occasions it mentions seals, whose language makes little sense to other creatures. Twice, in Mattimeo and Loamhedge, there is a creature, apparently half weasel and half ferret, called a Wearet. Pine martens have been featured in three books, once as the main villain and twice in the service of a wildcat. Several reptiles are also mentioned, such as adders and other snakes, and lizards. Amphibians like toads and frogs have been featured also, and are depicted as lower creatures that live in more basic trivial systems and usually serve not as the primary villains, but as secondary distractions to heroes. There are also some creatures that have only been mentioned once or twice (e.g., wolf, beaver, turtle, whale, wolverine, sable, tortoise, golden-furred hamster, flying mice (bats), monitor lizards, and in the first book horses and cows). Crows and other corvus birds also appear on numerous occasions, usually being vicious and territorial. Other birds such as owls, herons, red-tailed hawks, and eagles are mentioned, some having major parts in the book, including in "Mattimeo" when a bird named General Ironbeak did manage to invade and briefly conquer Redwall Abbey.
The Redwall universe is centered around Redwall Abbey, a red sandstone abbey. Built after the events of Mossflower, it is the home to many of the good animals of Mossflower Woods. Another important location is the mountain fortress of Salamandastron, home to the Badger Lords and the famed hares of the Long Patrol, the mountain's army. There are many other places, such as the fortress Riftgard, and Green Isle. Also, a main waterway is the River Moss. Though in some stories, such as the Bellmaker and The Legend of Luke, most of the story takes place onboard sailing ships and many dangers are only those involving the weather and damage resulting from such. Much of the wildlife in the books from the northern lands (such as the highlanders or borderers in Rakkety Tam) are primarily native to Scotland specifically, such as pine martens and golden eagles, whilst a lake monster, known as the Slothunog, is suggestive of Nessie and appears in High Rhulain and a similar creature in Salamandastron, known as the Deepcoiler.
Literary significance and reception
From the beginning, Brian Jacques has been praised for his Redwall series, being described as one of “the best children's authors in the world.” The books of the Redwall series have drawn comparisons to everything from J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows and Richard Adams’s Watership Down. Jacques combines “action, poetry, songs, courage, and vivid descriptions” to create a unique style that spans the seemingly endless series.
The Redwall series has also received praise for its “equal-opportunity adventuring, in which female creatures can be just as courageous (or as diabolical) as their male counterparts.” Novels such as Mariel of Redwall, The Pearls of Lutra, and Triss all feature strong female leading characters. Jacques has also received acclaim for his development of unique language intrinsic to certain species, giving the novels an "endearing dialectal dialogue."
Some reviews have been critical of the Redwall novels for providing too simplistic a view of good and evil. The characteristics of the animals in the novels are fixed by their species, making them quite “predictable." Though there have been a few books, The Outcast of Redwall and Pearls of Lutra, in which vermin have acted selflessly, one taking a spear through the chest and back meant for his old nursemaid, the other saving the Abbot of Redwall from lizards. In both cases however, the vermin were ferrets and both died shortly after saving another, from their grievous wounds. Another exception is in The Bellmaker, where a searat strove to start being good instead of evil, abandoning his life of pirating to live by himself. Also, characters always seem to “epitomize their class origins,” rarely rising above them.
Many reviewers have also criticized the Redwall series for repetition and predictability, citing "recycled" plot lines and Jacques’ tendency to follow a “pattern to the dot.” Of course, other reviewers note that such predictable “ingredients” may be what “makes the Redwall recipe so consistently popular.” Although the series does not continue to break new ground, it does provide satisfying adventures with “comforting, predictable conclusions for its fans.”
The books have been criticized in some quarters for allegedly promoting an overly simplistic view of race and ethnicity. Critics point out that the good and bad characters are drawn almost exclusively along species lines, with a few rare exceptions. These criticisms have been advanced as a concern, as the books are primarily read by children and young adults. There is also a class element involved in these criticisms, with the denizens of Redwall being either educated, aristocratic animals such as badgers, or rustic, simple creatures such as moles. This contrasts with the vermin, who are almost exclusively portrayed as a greedy, stupid, and violent rabble commanded by a charismatic evil leader. These narrative structures do resemble in many ways the British class system, with the upper class animals governing the working class ones, and the Abbey remaining an ever present and strong symbol of religious authority.
Another criticism is that the Stormtrooper effect is prominent in the books. There are a number of battles in which the good protagonists are able to kill or defeat large numbers of bad animals with minimal loss of life. This effect was not as pronounced in the very earliest books in the series (such as Redwall and Mossflower), but in later books it was not uncommon for a few good beasts to kill hundreds of vermin while only losing one or two of their own soldiers; these good soldier deaths were always intensely publicized, even for minor characters. The stormtrooper effect has been explained as the good creatures having tactical advantages, superior training and armaments, and assorted supernatural guidance and effects. However, some fans enjoy the stormtrooper effect, having it mean that more of the favorite characters survive.
Many fans are concerned about what they perceive as repetition in the series. While the early books are creative and well written, it seems that many of the later books all follow the same structure, cashing in on previously established plotlines: a rebellious youth defeats a villain that wishes to destroy/conquer Redwall; a group of warriors go to retrieve someone/something that will help someone/Redwall while vermin attack their homes as they are away; escaped slaves flee to safety where they attempt to find help, return home, and conquer their previous vermin masters. Opposition to this viewpoint claim that most literature falls into the same, repetitive cycles, and that Brian Jacques is no different than many other modern fantasy authors.
The current interior artist is David Elliot. He has illustrated six books in the Redwall series, including Eulalia!, published in 2007. He also illustrated the anniversary edition of Mossflower, with full page illustrations. Previous interior illustrators include Gary Chalk (Redwall, Mariel of Redwall, and Martin the Warrior), Allan Curless (The Bellmaker to The Long Patrol), Chris Baker (Marlfox to Lord Brocktree) and Peter Standley (The Taggerung). The cover artist of the US editions of the novels is Troy Howell. Pete Lyon and Douglas Hall provided cover art for different UK editions of the first four books. Later, Chris Baker became the UK cover artist up until the release of Triss, when David Wyatt took over.
The Redwall series has been translated into Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and recently Hebrew.
The first season of the Redwall television series, released in 1999, was based upon the novel Redwall. It was later followed by two more seasons, based on the books Mattimeo and Martin the Warrior. Production for the series is assumed to be finished. Each season contained over 20 episodes. Each episode was opened with Brian Jacques himself giving a synopsis of the story so far.
The websites www.redwall.tv and www.redwalltv.com are devoted to the TV series.
Recently on Deviantart, a group has begun work on a feature-length animated adaptation of the book Mossflower.
There have been full-length audiobooks published of Redwall, Mossflower, Mattimeo, Mariel of Redwall, Salamandastron, Martin the Warrior, The Bellmaker, Outcast of Redwall, The Long Patrol, The Taggerung, Triss, Loamhedge, Rakkety Tam, High Rhulain, Eulalia! and recently Doomwyte. There is also a new book coming out in 2010 called The Sable Quean. Instead of being read by a single actor, the novels are narrated by a large cast. Brian Jacques serves as the narrator for almost all of the audiobooks (with Salamandastron being the sole exception), sometimes reading select parts, and his son Marc Jacques appears as the characters Matthias, Martin and others.
Some abridged audiobooks have also been released. They include Redwall, Mossflower, Pearls of Lutra, The Long Patrol, Marlfox, The Legend of Luke and Lord Brocktree. Each is three hours in length and read solely by Brian Jacques.
- ↑ "Doomwyte publication". Puffin Catalogue. Retrieved 2008-10-08.[dead link]
- ↑ The correct chronological order for the series can be found at http://redwall.org
- ↑ Harrison, Susan, Amazon.com reviews (1992). Editorial review of Salamandastron.
- ↑ Publisher’s Weekly (1987). Editorial review of Redwall.
- ↑ Chang, Margaret, School Library Journal (1990). Editorial review of Mattimeo.
- ↑ Saecker, Tasha, School Library Journal (2005). Editorial review of High Rhulain.
- ↑ Publisher’s Weekly (1995). Editorial review of The Bellmaker.
- ↑ Kirkus Reviews (1998). Editorial review of The Long Patrol.
- ↑ Estes, Sally, Booklist (1995). Editorial review of The Bellmaker.
- ↑ Estes, Sally, Booklist (1995). Editorial review of The Bellmaker.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Publisher’s Weekly (1996). Editorial review of Outcast of Redwall.
- ↑ Kirkus Reviews (1992). Editorial review of Mariel of Redwall.
- ↑ Publisher’s Weekly (1996). Editorial review of The Pearls of Lutra.
- ↑ Kirkus Reviews (1994). Editorial review of Martin the Warrior.
- ↑ Shook, Bruce, School Library Journal (1998). Editorial review of The Long Patrol.
- ↑ Brian Jacques: The Redwall Opera
- Official website
- The Redwall Wiki - A collaborative Redwall information and news resource
- Current Illustrator's site
- Book cover gallery
- Redwall MUCK (Multi-User Character Kingdom) - A text-based roleplay game based on the series, operating with author's permission. Est. 1995
- Redwall: Warlords - The online text-based game