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, U.S. Covers

Year Published: 1986
Illustrator: Gary Chalk
U.S. Cover Artist: Troy Howell
UK Cover Artist: Pete Lyon
Page Count: 351
ISBN: 0399214240
ISBN-13: 9780399214240
Chronological Order: 9
Publication Order: 1


Redwall, UK Covers

Redwall is the first book in the Redwall saga by Brian Jacques. It was originally published in the UK by Hutchinson Children's Books after Jacques' friend Alan Durband sent the manuscript to his publisher without telling him. It became an overnight success. Redwall was later published in the U.S. by Philomel, a division of Penguin. The manuscript was discovered by Patricia Lee Gauch, who edited 16 of the novels before retiring. Philomel publisher Michael Green also edited Redwall.

As it was never intended to be published, several elements of the storyline are quite different than later books in the series. The mention of a horse, a beaver, dogs, towns, real-world references, and the actions of some characters are unique to this book alone.

Book Divisions (English)

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

Summary

Matthias, a young mouse of the peaceful Redwall Abbey, is in trouble, as are the rest of the inhabitants of Redwall. After marauding brute Cluny the Scourge attacks Redwall with his horde, 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 evil vermin. Methuselah, the Abbey gatekeeper, finds a riddle behind the tapestry of Martin, which directs the two mice to the warrior's secret tomb, where his shield and sword belt are located.

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.

Another rhyme instructs Matthias to place Martin's shield above the Gatehouse. At night, it reflects moonlight up onto the weathervane. 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 loft, but the dangerous king refuses to let Matthias go when he learns the sword is now owned by an adder, Asmodeus. Warbeak and her mother protect Matthias and the two young creatures become friends. Matthias attempts to escape, but plunges into the Abbey pond, along with Bull Sparra. The fall was fatal for the menacing sparrow monarch.

Local healer foxes Sela and her son, Chickenhound, were in Cluny's employ until he ordered them executed for treachery. Sela was killed, but Chickenhound survived to pillage the Abbey. When Methuselah bravely attempted to stop his thieving, Chickenhound hit him with a sack filled with valuables, accidentally killing the frail old mouse, and fled into Mossflower Woods, where he encountered Asmodeus and was bitten. Jess and Basil Stag Hare were able to retrieve the tapestry and place it in its rightful location in Great Hall.

Matthias recovers and sets out to defeat Asmodeus and reclaim the sword. He is assisted by 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. Matthias meets with Snow, using a token from Basil as his protection, and strikes a deal: if he can 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 and beheads the adder. Matthias is ultimately successful and finds the sword, although Guosim is killed by Asmodeus.

He then returns to the Abbey, which has been captured by Cluny in his absence. With the help of the shrews and Warbeak's Sparra, he's able to launch 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 mouse with his poisoned tail barb.

Matthias marries Cornflower, and they have a son, Mattimeo. Brother Mordalfus becomes Abbot.

Characters in Redwall

Trivia

  • In several printings of Redwall, Killconey is identified inconsistently throughout the text as either male or female. Brian Jacques confirmed that Killconey was male.

Awards

Winner:

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

Nominated:

  • Carnegie Medal (1988)

Collector's Editions And Reprints

Redwall 10th Anniversary Edition UK

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 of £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 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 the U.S. by Philomel. This version has six color plates, a new cover by Troy 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.

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 edition with new Troy Howell jacket art was released, as well as a 20th Anniversary Gift Package. From 2006-07 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 paperback was updated to reflect the 30th anniversary on the cover and in the introduction.

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.

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.

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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