“Redwall” by Brian Jacques

RedwallRedwall is the first book written in a series, which also has the name “Redwall.” The author, Brian Jacques, is from Liverpool, England and the story is set in a rather English type of countryside. There is one important difference, however, the characters are all talking animals!

Redwall was written to be suitable for children, specifically blind children, and so has a very descriptive writing style. Jacques used words to paint pictures of the scenes, the creatures, and the action. The books are enchanting and have young readers, as well as those of us of the more mature persuasion, devouring the tales with almost as much glee as the animals in the books enjoy their magnificent feasts!

Redwall is an abbey, and it is populated by animals. There are badgers, hedgehogs, moles, mice, squirrels, otters, shrews, hares, and various birds who are all basically the good guys. Their young ones are called “Dibbuns” and are usually mischievous, but also often save the day.

The vermin (mostly rats, but also ferrets, weasels, and sometimes foxes) are the villains.

There are also miscellaneous creatures, often reptiles, like snakes and toads, and giant fish (well giant compared to mice, rats, and shrews!) that are dangerous to both sides.

All the different animals have their own dialects. The moles go “Hurr, Burr” and love “deeper’n’ever turnip’n’tater’n’beetroot pie.” The shrews are led by “Log-a-Log” who gets called “Log-a-Thing” by the hares, who generally speak like British country gentlemen, all “wot, wot,” and “good old chap” and make fun of every “bally” thing, even the direst dangers. There are also the Sparras (sparrows) who shout stuff like “killee, killee, chop up all mouses, killee dead quickfast!” And in a later book there’s some birds from the North Country who have Scottish accents – McTalon is one of my favorites! And all these funny creatures get along so well (at least the good ones do, the evildoers tend to fight among themselves a lot).

The ideas for the characters and their stories come from Brian Jacques’ life experiences. The good creatures are based on people who live in different parts of Britain, complete with their different accents. Living through World War II he was inspired by the bravery, even recklessness, of the air force pilots who saved the day. The theme of defending your home when attacked by evil comes from his war experiences.

Read my full review on Wizzley.

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