Book cover: 'Redwall'
441 005 489
Ace Books / Penguin Putnam Inc. NY
Number of pages: 
333 pages
Grade / Age level: 

This is a novel about a mouse among mice. There is a community of mice that lives in Redwall Abbey. The newest novice, Matthias, cuts a willing but uninspiring figure. He has an inordinate passion for Martin the warrior mouse whose legend is like that of Arthur - except that it lacks everything but the ability to swing a sword for the right side. There isn't much depth to Martin. But thanks to his efforts the abbey is become a place of peace and goodness to the surrounding forest community of animals. The abbey is an impressive structure and a formidable fortress despite it's peaceful look. But it is not 'deep' either -beyond the fact that it is an abbey and that the inhabitants wear robes God, religion and eternal truth is absent to the players in this story. Cluny the Scourge is a rat. He is a big, ugly, evil rat with only one eye left due to his warlike ways. Cluny has a legion of rats, ferrets and other unsavory characters in his company. And Cluny is on the move. He has been wandering down from the north spreading despair and ruin - killing, destroying and pillaging wherever he felt like stopping. Cluny feels like stopping at Redwall abbey. But, he finds the abbey of the 'peaceloving' little mouse community much more impenetrable than he expected - due in large part to Matthais and company. Matthias turns out to be a genius, a rabbit-tail of good luck, and a guy who everybody seems to love and trust. The book goes on and on with battle, skirmish and raids. Matthias is searching and searching for the sword of the legendary Martin. He has a sixth sense about it's ultimate importance (there is way too much sixth sense and forshadowing in this story for my taste). In fact the Abbey is often without his incredible leadership skills and sixth sense intuition because he keeps taking unnecessary sorties. But by extrordinary good luck (and because he's the hero of the book) he survives them all. I still wonder what the sense of this is in the book. It is poor philosopy and worse morals. Cluny, on the other hand, is conducting war as a leader of a rough hewn horde of this type would. In fact the author gets inside his head on a number of occasions regarding strategy, psycholgy and primitive politics. And from what I can tell he is probably quite accurate! This is an interesting study since the gallic wars and other writings of succesful generals usually view the other kind of army - the good guys. I kept wondering where the people were. There is no explanation. Though I did learn late in the book that the abbey was actually built by the mice in ages past (it is not the mouse occupation of a man made church which one would find so believable!) And more importantly I kept wondering why I should be sympathetic to Matthias. He didn't ever quite earn the right to my sympathy even though I knew he was the good guy. And his novice's habit failed to stir me as it seemed to be little beyond just the type of clothes he happened to wear. This is an OK story. I don't get the fanfare though. There are MUCH better war tales out there.

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