A Few Thoughts on The Redwall Series
I first started reading the Redwall series when I was 10 and to this day, it remains one of my favorite series of books. I have read all 22 of the books several times over and I cried when Brian Jacques died. Even today, I can spend hours discussing the characters, stories, and themes in every book.
The books usually consist of a young character who embarks on a quest to protect the Abbey of Redwall, find and save a loved one, or seek out a missing object or treasure. Epic battles, rousing songs, grand feasts, and plenty of songs, riddles, and puzzles became the cornerstone of the series, so much so that the audio books include full instrumentaion and an entire cookbook was released due to fans loving the mouthwatering descriptions of Redwall food.
Naturally, with 22 books in the series, debates over which book is the best and which book didn't live up to expectations is a hot topic among fans. Indeed, one of my favorite books in the series (Taggerung) is often considered as one of the weakest books, to which I hotly disagree. While I agree that some books have problems (Outcast of Redwall is the major example), I maintain that the good far outweighs the bad. Indeed, even in the books that fans have problems with, there is still plenty to enjoy. Indeed, the titular outcast of "Outcast of Redwall" is more of a subplot, but the main story is extremely enjoyable. And while I do agree that the ending of Taggerung wasn't the best, it has some of the most emotional moments in the entire series. All in all, while the series has its ups and downs, the main consensus is that there is plenty of enjoyment to be found.
Fair warning, the books don't shy away from some pretty graphic depictions of violence. Despite being aimed at children 10 and up, the first book alone features characters being crushed, stabbed, buried and boiled alive, and poisoned. And as the series goes on, the perils of war, the dangers of battle, and the horrors of slavery (including child slavery) are shown in full detail. What keeps the series from becoming too dark in the overall message that good with triumph in the end. True, there are times when main characters experience great loss and they may not get the happy ending we want, but I find that just makes the series more timeless and imparts a message more people need to hear: a true warrior fights for good simply because it is the right thing to do, not because they will be rewarded. And if more people want to embrace values of courage, honesty, and kindness that characters like Martin, Matthias, Bella of Brockhall, and Mariel teach, then I'd say that makes reading these books well worth it.
As such, I can't recommend the series enough. Do come and visit Redwall sometime; the gates of the Abbey are always open and welcome to all.
~ Jillian Wagner
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