When the peaceful life of ancient Redwall Abbey is shattered by the arrival of the evil rat Cluny and his villainous hordes, Matthias, a young mouse, determines to find the legendary sword of Martin the Warrior which, he is convinced, will help Redwall's inhabitants destroy the enemy.
Original publication date
One of the scenes here was probably the first time a book ever made me cry (the death of my favorite character), and Jacques' characters here became just as real as anything to me as I read and reread his masterpieces. As I've gotten older, they've become a staple of my recommendations to parents looking for stories to read with their children.
First of all, I adore the characters. Matthias is lovable and you can't help but pull out your "Go Matthias!" banner every time he gets into trouble (which is quite frequently); Abbott Mortimer is the gentle and wise counselor we all wish we had (who I also refer to as "the original Dumbledore"); Constance is the feisty badger with a big mouth who always has her friends' backs; and Brother Methuselah is the oldest inhabitant of Redwall, a scholar and keeper of records, who defies his age by helping Matthias in his quest to find the sword of Martin the Warrior. These are just a few of the charming characters from Redwall Abbey and surrounding Mossflower forest who it's inevitable you'll be quite attached to by the end of the book. There are quite a few definitely-not-charming characters in this book as well, who add dimension and contrast with the defenders of Redwall. I was honestly surprised by how truly evil Cluny the Scourge is, feeding off of the pain and misery he inflicts on those around him. Being most often classified as Children's Fiction, I expected a nasty rat but not one who is so blatantly cruel. I'm glad he isn't a namby-pamby villain, though, because that would have annoyed me to no end as well as potentially ruined the book's flavor and plot. Also, this book does not represent a simplistic world composed of "good" and "evil"; instead, it consists of many shades of grey, and characters do not always make choices consistent with their assumed status of "good" or "bad". In addition, there are multiple villains, each being a "villain" for different reasons; one of them is such simply because his perspective and way of life is different, in conflict with that of the rest of the woodlanders'. I appreciated these subtleties, especially since children's literature tends to be full of rather worn out, overly moralistic and cliched perspectives on good and evil. This was refreshing and one reason, I believe, that this book can be enjoyed by such a wide range of readers.
This book is most certainly an adventure story with the reader frequently switching perspectives between Cluny and his army, Matthias and his quest, and the Abbey's defenders. I greatly enjoyed the style of narration; it keeps things moving, though doesn't switch perspectives too quickly, and gives enough detail to really be absorbed into the story and its environment, though not so much that a young reader will feel overwhelmed. Some people have remarked that they don't like the slightly meandering story line, but for me, it is reminiscent of The Hobbit and quite delicious. I love the little side adventures and details that are not strictly "relevant" to the plot because I feel they add to the overall mythology of Redwall, which is very important if you're going to go on and read the rest of the series. This is a book that can truly be enjoyed by readers of all ages, as well as the perfect selection for reading aloud. I hope to acquire these books sometime soon and enjoy them again in future, perhaps with my son, who I will make sure is acquainted with Redwall Abbey and the many adventures that concern it at a somewhat younger age than I am now.
I’ll state right off the bat that I am not a huge fan of animals as humans (anthropomorphism) types of fantasy novels. While this book is beautifully written, I just didn’t enjoy the fact that all the characters are animals of different types.
This book also moves very slowly; it is written in an old school fantasy style and creeps along. The story itself is also a very typical fantasy story: peaceful society gets attacked by an evil person and one unlikely person/animal stands up to help the situation. Given the pace and the typical plot I had trouble staying engaged and kept finding a million other things to do rather than read this book...which is how I knew it just wasn’t for me.
As I said this story does have its good points. The world is beautifully created and the writing is very lyrical. Many of the characters are incredibly lovable and cute.
Overall this just wasn’t for me. I think younger readers might enjoy it more. The plot was just too predictable, the pace too slow, and I struggled to stay engaged in the story and kept finding other things to do rather than read this story. I am not a big fan of anthropomorphism types of stories so that was part of the issue as well.
I was finally motivated
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.
Matthias the mouse is a clumsy young novice at the medieval Abbey which is dedicated to peace. He learns that he must help to defend the Abbey against the onslaught or all of his friends will be slaughtered and the Abbey occupied by hordes of rats. ‘Matthias gradually learns that, sometimes, it is virtuous to defend oneself and those one loves’ (Kilpatrick, W., et al., 1994, p. 227). His friend Methuselah and Constance the Badger are key figures who help all they can along with the compassionate and courageous Cornflower who tells Matthias ‘Even the strongest and bravest must sometimes weep’ (Jacques, 1990, p. 71). Matthias sets out on a quest to recover a sword that belonged to the ancient defender of Redwall, Martin the Warrior. On this quest he battles the insane sparra King Bull, the evil poisontooth snake Asmodeuss, and teams up with the Guerrilla Union of Shrews.
This was the first book that Brian Jacques ever wrote. He has since written more in the series that are chronologically older than this book, hence this book being number nine in the sequential order. His writing is very witty, humorous and insightful, a true good verses evil adventure with much fighting and plotting. There are many ghastly deaths in this book and it can be quite violent at times so squeamish readers should be aware of this before beginning.
ELIB 530A LibraryThing Part C – Fantasy - Book 2
I decided to read this book finally after witnessing my sons enjoyment of it when he was a kid. He was absolutely enraptured with it and couldn’t wait to read the next one in the series. I thought it would be