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).
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.)