{Review} Redwall by Brian Jacques


by Brian Jacques
Published 1986
Goodreads: See here
Middle Grade Fantasy

Plot at a Glance:

Redwall Abbey, the tranquil home to a community of peaceful mice comes under threat when Cluny the Scourage sets his sight on their home. A devious and demented bilge rat, Cluny is a warlord with a taste for violence and a reputation for relentless conquest. Worried for the safety of his home and friends, a young mouse named Matthias begins a quest to find a sacred weapon that might be the Abbey’s only hope for survival.


This book was actually one of the first chapter books I read as a child, but because that was so long ago and at the start of my life as a reader, my brain had pretty much deleted all of the details of it – save for the fact that I enjoyed it when I was young. I’m happy to report that I found the book just as enjoyable as an adult reader; perhaps even more so, for the aspects of it I’m sure I appreciate more as an adult reader that would have flown over my head as a child.

As a middle grade fantasy story, this is quite well done. Jacques centers the plot around Cluny the Scourge’s days-long siege of Redwall Abbey and uses this conflict to introduce some fairly standard fantasy tropes to young readers unfamiliar with the genre. Good vs. Evil; The Chosen One and Political Machinations between courts are all covered here in ways that remain faithful to the genre without boring the children that this series is written for. Particularly well done is the way the various woodland animals overcome their differences in order to work together against their common enemy, Cluny. 

As an adult reader of this series, one thing I was surprised by was the way it does not flinch from violence or the devastating effects of warfare on the people who live and die during it. With a lot of middle grade books, there’s a tendency for authors to sort of skim over death, or fake the reader out before resetting everything to the way things were before. Here, Jacques unabashedly kills off characters left and right, and it makes for some pretty compelling reading. Knowing that the danger is real and permanent in this series ups the ante considerably. At times I felt like I watching an all-animal version of Game of Thrones, which I suppose makes Matthias the Jon Snow of his world?

Speaking of the all-animal cast, I couldn’t help but wonder where humans factored into all this. It’s quite confusing to have riderless horsecarts and gigantic fortified Abbeys built from bricks and no mention of how they got there. Doing some digging on my own I read that Jacques intent was the show a world where humans didn’t exist at all, but I didn’t think that was particularly well conveyed given the fact that the entire cast called a place that would have been physically impossible for them to build their home.

The only other thing that brought my rating down was that in some moments it seemed as though the seriousness of the situation was forgotten by the characters. There were a number of moments where Redwall was under direct siege by the enemy, and certain characters were either eating or sleeping and otherwise unconcerned, which was a tiny bit frustrating. But these are minor complaints in a sea of other positives that makes it them very easy to overlook.

I love finding Middle Grade series that would speak to young boys in particular, as I think they are an oft-neglected demographic in the reading world. While the action, characters and plot movement in this series is sure to entertain most readers in any demographic, I think Matthias is a wonderful role model for young male readers in particular. I happily recommend this book to as a good starting point for fans new to fantasy.

🌟🌟🌟🌟= 4/5 stars

What did you think of this book? Have you read any more of the series? Is it worth continuing?



16 thoughts on “{Review} Redwall by Brian Jacques

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  1. I adored these books as a child! I have a clear memory of buying Redwall at a car boot sale when I was 8 with my pocket money, and then read through the whole series. I’m often tempted to reread them, although I expect it would spoil it…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have similar memories, except mine are of checking this series out of my elementary school’s library one book at a time. I thought the writing actually held up quite well. Jacques didn’t dumb his prose down just because he was telling a story for kids, which I appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeay!! You read it! Well, re-read it ha-ha. I was super excited to see you posted a review! I loved this series growing up and I’m highly considering re-reading it eventually. I love Matthias, such an amazing character. And I’m loving the images you used 🙂 Even though it speaks well to the Middle Grade male population, I still found an appreciation for this as a female. There are some strong female characters in the series, which I liked. Maybe my opinion might change when I re-read it. I do like how the books and show portray death; they don’t sugar coat it, which is a big thing for this age demographic. It wasn’t intense but it’s enough that I know some schools won’t let children read it, which I disagree with. Anyways, wonderful review yet again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!!! 🙂 I definitely think boys and girls could love this book. One thing I cut from my review because it was already getting too long was a bit about the female characters. Constance the badger and Warbeak in particular were two strong women that I loved. If/when I continue with reading more books from the series, I will definitely make the time in a review to talk about the female characters. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh no worries! I loved your review! What I just love is that this book is older ish and it still shows awesome characters all around! Constance was my favourite growing up besides Matthias 😊. I can’t wait to read the other reviews!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m rereading this right now and I’ve also been surprised by the amount of violence. In a lot of middle grade books, I feel like the violence is toned down or in the background, but Jacques isn’t afraid to show his readers exactly how cruel our villains are and that makes for a more interesting story in some ways.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, I love this series! I still enjoy rereading them. Two of my favourite are Pearls of Lutra, and Doomwhyte. My younger sister got into this series because I had them and she liked to steal books off my shelf. >_< I loved your comparison with GoT regarding Jacques refusal to flinch from the deaths of his cast.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to find another fan! I can’t wait to continue with the series. And I’m glad you agreed with the Game of Thrones comparison! I really enjoy how this book doesn’t shy away from violence and real danger. It raises the stakes for sure.


  5. I just bought the first three of these on sale as ebooks for a re-read. My son loved these books. I used to read everything he did (until he graduated from high school) so we could discuss the stories. I think we read at least six, if not eight of them before he aged out of MGs. We have a couple in hardcover. I would like to collect them all (20+, I think) for my someday grandchildren. Thanks for sharing your re-reading thoughts. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so great that you read the same books as your son so you could share the joy of reading together. I wish I had parents that were that invested when I was growing up! I think that’s a lovely idea to collect the books for your eventual grandchildren.


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