book review: redwall

Brian Jacques died earlier this year and in the hubbub surrounding it I realized I’d never read any of the Redwall books. I’d recommended them tonnes, but never actually read them. I realize now that I’d thought there was an actual connection between Redwall and the Mouse Guard comic/RPG. There isn’t.

Redwall is about Matthias wanting to be a warrior while a terrible rat horde comes to attack the Abbey of Redwall, where the mice peacefully heal all the woodland creatures. Matthias has it in his head that he needs to get Martin the Warrior’s sword for some reason to defeat this horde. The rest of the animals don’t think this is a stupid idea. And in the end it’s just a sword. I mean, the point of him going off and solving all these riddles was to get a sword that yes he can cut rats in half with, but all he really needed was his confidence or whatever. Through the whole book he’s such a child of privilege it’s not even funny. Everyone just loves him and he makes friends with everyone.

The other thing I wasn’t a fan of was how easily the peaceful abbey of Redwall went to a war footing and how no one tried to talk Matthias out of following a warrior path. It was all very positive on the “violence as a way of life if it’s done with honour” shtick without any questioning of it. There’s just all this casual murdering that goes on that’s justified because of the uber-simplistic “they were evil” excuse. Bah.

Also, from this book I have no idea about the scale of anything in the world of Redwall. When they talk about a chair, that’s a mouse-sized chair, right, and a barn is a human-sized barn? But when the mice go fishing did they catch a fish that was ten times the size of a mouse, or one that could fit in a mouse’s hand? And how do the birds carry things when they walk around? It took me out of the story, worrying about these logistics, especially since they seemed very inconsistent.

Still, not a bad adventure story. Just the kind of thing that probably works a lot better for a younger audience (or one that has nostalgic memories of it).

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