By Brian Jacques
Ace Books 1998
Borrowed from a friend
This is the first book in the beloved Redwall series by Brian Jacques. The stories are about the animals who live and around Redwall Abbey. The mice are peace-loving healers who are shocked when their home is besieged by a terrifying rat named Cluny the Scourge. Their only hope for defeating the rat army is to find the lost sword of Martin the Warrior, the ancient protector of the Abbey. Can an awkward mouse named Matthias find the sword, defeat Cluny, and save the day?
This is a charming read. When I was a kid, I think I would have adored this series. But as an adult, it strikes me as simplistic. The good characters are oh so good and the bad characters are terribly evil for no discernible reason. Cluny wants to take over the Abbey seemingly because he can and he manages to find a horde of miscreants and outcasts that will follow him to the death with no previous association.
This is not to say that there aren't good things to be found in this book. Jacques does an excellent job of world-building and it's fascinating to see the relationships between the animals. I love reading books where I sit and marvel at the author's imagination. There seem to be two things that are really important within Redwall Abbey. One is food and the other is loyalty to your friends. Both of these things get a lot of attention and if a book if going to make your kid think about how to treat others and then make them hungry for dinner, you really can't complain.
I think Redwall is a book I will recommend to David when he is old enough to understand the magic of immersing yourself in another world. I think it teaches its readers about the importance of family and community. It shows that courage is rewarded and that good will triumph over evil. But as an adult, I won't be rushing out to read the rest of this series.