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Redwall Wiki | Brian Jacques and Redwall Information
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Redwall Wiki | Brian Jacques and Redwall Information

This article is about the book. For the place, see Redwall Abbey. For the series, see Redwall series. If you are visiting us for the first time, please go here.

Redwall is the first book in the epic Redwall series by Brian Jacques. The fantasy novel was originally published on October 23, 1986, in the UK by Hutchinson Children's Books after Jacques' friend Alan Durband covertly sent the manuscript to his publisher without informing Jacques. It became an overnight success. In 1987, Redwall crossed the Atlantic to the U.S., courtesy of Philomel Books, a division of Penguin, where Patricia Lee Gauch, the editor of 16 novels in the series, discovered the manuscript. Philomel publisher Michael Green also edited Redwall.

What sets Redwall apart from the rest of the series is its origin as a book never intended for publication. As a consequence, the storyline features unique elements that distinguish it from later works. Readers encounter mentions of a horse, a beaver, dogs, towns, real-world references, and the distinctive actions of certain characters, making Redwall a one-of-a-kind adventure within the series.

Book Divisions (English)[]

  • Book 1: The Wall
  • Book 2: The Quest
  • Book 3: The Warrior

Summary[]

After marauding brute Cluny the Scourge attacks the peaceful residents of Redwall Abbey with his horde of evildoers, a young mouse, Matthias, embarks on a quest to retrieve the legendary sword of Abbey founder, defender, and hero Martin the Warrior, which he believes will provide victory over the threatening vermin. Methuselah, the Abbey gatekeeper, finds a riddle hidden behind the tapestry of Martin, which leads the two mice to the warrior's secret underground tomb.

In the meantime, Cluny schemes to take Redwall. He directs a horde member to steal Martin's tapestry from inside Great Hall in an effort to reduce Abbey morale.

Having discovered Martin's shield and sword belt in the tomb, another rhyme instructs Matthias to place the shield above the Gatehouse. At night, it reflects moonlight up onto the weathervane, indicating the sword's location. The mice enlist the help of Jess Squirrel to scale the Abbey and retrieve the sword, however, she is attacked by the Sparra, birds who reside on the Abbey roof. The young Warbeak is taken captive, and Methuselah tricks her into revealing that her leader, King Bull Sparra, possessed the great sword. Matthias and Warbeak visit the Sparra loft, but the dangerous king refuses to let Matthias go when he learns the sword is now owned by an adder, Asmodeus Poisonteeth. Warbeak and her mother protect Matthias and the two young creatures become friends. Matthias retrieves the sword's scabbard and attempts to escape, but he's spotted by King Bull Sparra, who attacks him. The pair plunges into the Abbey pond, with the fall having fatal results for the menacing sparrow monarch.

Cluny employs local healer foxes Sela and her son, Chickenhound, to assist his efforts. However, he soon orders their execution for treachery. Sela is killed, but Chickenhound survives to trick his way into Redwall and pillage the Abbey. When Methuselah bravely attempts to stop his thieving, Chickenhound hits him with a sack filled with valuables, unintentionally killing the frail old mouse, and flees into Mossflower Woods. The fox encounters Asmodeus in the wilderness and receives a nasty bite. Jess and Basil Stag Hare retrieve the tapestry and place it in its rightful location in Great Hall.

Matthias, now recovered, sets out to defeat Asmodeus and reclaim the sword for Redwall Abbey. He receives assistance from the argumentative Guerilla Union of Shrews in Mossflower, Log-a-Log, and the president of the shrew union, Guosim. They direct him to wildcat Squire Julian Gingivere, who is feuding with owl Captain Snow. The young mouse meets with Snow, using a token from Basil as protection from a predatory attack, and strikes a deal: if he can successfully regain the sword, Snow will never eat another mouse or shrew, and he will reconcile with Julian. Matthias tracks Asmodeus to his lair in the Quarry, beheads the adder, and acquires the sword, although Guosim is killed by Asmodeus.

The warrior returns to Redwall, which has been captured by Cluny in his absence. With the help of the shrews and Warbeak's Sparra, he launches an attack and fights Cluny in the Bell Tower. Matthias slices the Joseph Bell from its rope after Friar Hugo is caught while hiding under the stairs, and it falls, killing Cluny. Abbot Mortimer dies shortly thereafter, as Cluny had lashed the Abbey's leader with his poisoned tail barb.

Before Abbot Mortimer passes, he tells Matthias that he must not become a brother of Redwall, but instead decrees Matthias as the Warrior of Redwall Abbey and protector of all its residents. The Abbot names Martin's sword Ratdeath, and instructs Matthias and Cornflower to wed and dwell in the Abbey Gatehouse. Brother Mordalfus succeeds Mortimer as the new Abbot. After their marriage, Matthias and Cornflower have a son, Mattimeo.

Characters in Redwall

Notable Awards[]

Winner:

  • TIME Magazine's 100 Best Fantasy Books of All Time (2020)
  • Lancashire Libraries Children's Book of the Year Award (1988)
  • Western Australian Young Readers' Award
  • Parents' Choice Honor Book for Literature (1987)
  • Booklist Editor's Choice Award (1987)
  • American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults (1987)
  • School Library Journal Best Book (1987)

Nominated:

  • Carnegie Medal (1988)

Redwall Collector's Editions and Reprints[]

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UK Redwall 10th Anniversary Edition

The first publisher of the series, Hutchinson, issued reprints of the original UK hardcover in 1990 and 1994. The 1990 edition had an increased price from £7.95 to £9.99. The 1994 edition featured updated dust jacket copy that referred to the series as a whole as well as a £12.99 price, and listed the published Redwall books up to The Bellmaker. The ISBN stayed the same for all three versions.

For the 10th Anniversary celebration of Redwall in 1997, Hutchinson re-released Redwall in a special collector's edition in the UK. The hardcover book was bound in green leather with a pictorial front board and included 13 new illustrated color plates by Fangorn. It retained Gary Chalk's original chapter illustrations. This publication is sometimes referred to as the "Redwall Illustrated Collector's Edition".

A special 10th Anniversary Edition was also released in 1997 in the U.S. by Philomel. This hardcover version has six color plates by Troy Howell (Matthias battling King Bull Sparra, near the title page; Cluny the Scourge speaking to members of his horde in Book 1, Ch. 6; Constance and Abbey dwellers on the wall in Book 1, Ch. 18; Matthias, Methuselah, and Cornflower in Book 2, Ch. 4; Basil Stag Hare in Book 2, Ch. 18; and Matthias crossing a Mossflower river in Book 2, Ch. 22), a new cover from Howell, and a special introduction from Brian Jacques. This introduction features an imprint of Brian Jacques' signature at the bottom, but this should not be interpreted as a signed edition of the book - every published copy features this signature. These same six illustrations were repeated in a 2000 paperback edition that maintained the original 1986 cover. Ace also reproduced this edition in paperback.

Circa 2000, an "Author's Limited Edition" was sold exclusively on Redwall.org, with each one numbered and signed by Brian Jacques. This was a facsimile of the original UK Hutchinson hardcover, with only 500 available. It used the same dust jacket copy as the 1994 reprint, but without the £12.99 text. This item was featured in the Redwall Collectors Community series.

In 2007, the 20th Anniversary of Redwall being published in the U.S., another special anniversary hardcover edition with new Troy Howell jacket art was released, as well as a 20th Anniversary Gift Package. The Ace paperback was re-issued with a 20th anniversary cover update as well. From 2006 - 2007 in the UK, Random House re-released all 14 Redwall books in their catalog as paperbacks with new covers. Around 2010, Firebird released new paperback editions of the entire series.

No special edition was released for the 30th anniversary of Redwall in 2016 or 2017, however the 10th anniversary edition of the Ace paperback was updated to reflect the 30th anniversary on the cover.

Adaptations[]

Musical[]

In 1998, Redwall was adapted into a two-act musical opera by Evelyn Swennson, Redwall: The Legend of Redwall Abbey.

TV[]

Redwall was adapted into a three season TV series by Nelvana in 1999. Season one is based on Redwall.

Redwall Graphic Novel[]

In 2007, Redwall was adapted into a graphic novel by Stuart Moore and Bret Blevins.

Film[]

As of February 2021, Redwall is being adapted into a feature film by Netflix.

Literary Analyses[]

Unique to Redwall[]

The following consists of narrative elements that are unique to Redwall, and are never referenced again, nor appear in later books:

  • Real world countries, like Portugal (Cluny is described as "Portuguese")
  • Towns and villages as settlements
  • Horses, Beavers, Dogs, Cows, Pigs, and Lambs as characters and/or viable species
  • Years as an element of time (later changed to Seasons)
  • The shield of Martin the Warrior
  • The name "Ratdeath" for the sword of Martin the Warrior
  • Religious references - e.g. "the devil", "Satan", "hell"; ecclesiastical aspects (church pulpit, choir loft, lady chapel, lectern, hymn books), etc.
  • References to calendar months and times ("June," "11 o'clock", etc.)

Audiobooks[]

Redwall has been released in several different audiobook formats with different narrators and full cast recordings.

Trivia[]

  • Redwall was originally written by hand on 800 sheets of recycled paper kept in a Safeway grocery bag.
  • Redwall was first read in the U.S. by Putnam editor Arthur Levine, who took the novel to the Philomel offices when his boss declined to pursue publishing it. "I was over the moon," Levine said about reading the book.
  • Kirkdale, Liverpool's Stanley Park was an inspiration for Redwall.
  • In several printings of Redwall, Killconey is identified inconsistently throughout the text as either male or female. Brian Jacques confirmed that Killconey was male.


Release details[]



Books in the Redwall Chronicles, by Brian Jacques

Redwall · Mossflower · Mattimeo · Mariel of Redwall · Salamandastron · Martin the Warrior · The Bellmaker · Outcast of Redwall · Pearls of Lutra · The Long Patrol · Marlfox · The Legend of Luke · Lord Brocktree · Taggerung · Triss · Loamhedge · Rakkety Tam · High Rhulain · Eulalia! · Doomwyte · The Sable Quean · The Rogue Crew

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