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Book spotlight (Fantasy fiction): Redwall by Brian Jacques

The Redwall series by Brian Jacques is one of the more intriguing fantasy fiction concepts out there. Unlike most of the fantasy fiction genre, Redwall does not have any elements of magic or mythic creatures; instead, it is simply a classic adventure story, told from the perspective of woodland creatures. The main hero (although he is not featured directly in every book) is a mouse named Martin the Warrior. Throughout the series, the characters constantly look to Martin as their patriarch and protector, even though he has long since passed on to the Dark Forest (the animal version of the afterlife).

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The books are written out of chronological order, but they can be read and and the storyline understood in either chronological order or publication order. Currently, the series has twenty books already released, with the latest, The Sable Queen, due to be released on Feb. 23, 2010.

The setting is Mossflower Country, and the protagonists generally all come from the great Redwall Abbey. However, there are also several books that take place before and during the creation of this giant sandstone structure, which just help to develop the already-massive backstory and history of this place.

Redwall was the first book in the series to be published, although Mossflower, published later, is a prequel to Redwall in the story timeline. Redwall's hero is a young mouse named Matthias, who embarks on a quest to find the sword of the legendary Martin the Warrior to save his beloved Abbey from the vicious attacks of the vile Cluny the Scourge. What begins as a simple treasure hunt soon has Matthias traveling far into Mossflower Country and discovering much more than an old sword.

Jacques' writing style is smooth and descriptive, his characters so complex and real that you forget you are reading about woodland creatures and believe that this is actually happening. Jacques brings you right into the story and makes you forget that this real world exists. You are no longer a citizen of Earth - you live in Mossflower Country and you are right there with the heroes and the villains, shadowing them and watching them grow and survive in this amazing new reality.

Although this series is technically labeled young adult fiction, it is definitely suitable for adults as well. Even as a young reader, I read Redwall and Mossflower so many times I broke the bindings and had to purchase new copies of both books - hopefully you will fall just as much in love with these characters and this story, because they will give you hours of enjoyment. Just be aware that Jacques is a master of manipulation, and if you don't guard yourself, you might very well find yourself so tied up in the story that your emotions get the best of you.

For more information, take a look at Brian Jacques' official website. To purchase, go to Barnes & Noble in the Midland Mall or order online from Amazon.com. B&N.com also has ebooks available of all the current Redwall books in the series.

Trivia Question: Who was Martin the Warrior's love? (Hint: Read Martin the Warrior.)

Comments

  • Kim 4 years ago

    Oh Sarah, I just love Jacques' work! I remember first reading Redwall. Jacques really is a master storyteller, with his incorporation of riddles, quests, and songs. Not to mention the specific persona each species of animals get: the ferocious sparrows and the charmingly quaint moles. Not to mention the hilarity of the hares. It is so hard to choose a favorite book, or even a favorite character. And my lord, the food! I am a vegetarian and I happen to have a copy of the Redwall Cookbook (an excellent addition to the series). I could read these stories over and over, and never feel like I am reading a juvenile book.
    Have you read the other books yet (a separate set) that Jacques has written? I think the first book is Castaway of the Flying Dutchman. I am curious as to how you think those compare.

  • vanda 4 years ago

    first time i heard of Brian Jacques. I dont read fantasy book that much, but your review abt Redwall has triggered my curiosity. I want to read it. Will try to find it in B&N online. Thanks

  • Melody 4 years ago

    I love these books! Great, now I need to go and get them from my parents' house. I don't have room in my dorm for any more books!

  • Addie.Aynsley 4 years ago

    From your review it sounds absolutely wonderful. I wouldn't mind checking this out one day.

  • Melody 4 years ago

    Oh! Oh! Pick me, pick me! Sorry, bored here during a three hour shift. Her name was Rose--Laterose.

  • Dagda 4 years ago

    I have this book but i've never read it. I think it's about time that I do so. Thanks for the memory slap! :)

  • Kylandra 4 years ago

    This series is perhaps my all-time favorite. I personally own every single one of the twenty books in the series. While the theme is generally the same for each book, the characters are so varied and engaging that I forget about the similarities. I love that the voices are written in dialect as well.
    There are audio books done by Brian Jaques himself as well as a few voiced by a cast of characters directed by Jaques.

  • SarahLindesmith 4 years ago

    Kim: yes, I've read Castaways. That series is pretty good, too, but it's written almost exclusively for young adults. There are mysteries in each book that the main character (whose name escapes me at the moment) must solve; while the plot is fairly straightforward, it's held up with the connections the characters make with each other (something that Jacques is so great at writing) so it's not a dry read. I own these books as well.

    Kylandra: I love the recordings! "I know something YOU don't know, Methusaleh!"
    My favorite line in the whole recording. :) For those who don't get it, check it out. You'll see what I mean. ...or rather, hear what I mean.

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