Redwall (novel)

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AuthorBrian Jacques
IllustratorGary Chalk
Cover artistPete Lyon
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherHutchinson (UK) & Philomel (US)
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)
Pages311 (UK Hardback) & 351 (US Hardback)
ISBN0-09-165090-9 (UK Hardback) & ISBN 0-399-21424-0 (US Hardback)
Followed byMossflower 

Redwall is a fantasy novel by Brian Jacques.[1] Originally published in 1986, it is the first book of the Redwall series. The book was illustrated by Gary Chalk, with the British cover illustration by Pete Lyon and the American cover by Troy Howell. It is also one of the three Redwall novels to be made into a TV series.


As the inhabitants of Redwall Abbey bask in the glorious Summer of the Late Rose, all is quiet and peaceful. But things are not as they seem. Cluny the Scourge—the evil one-eyed rat warlord, is hell-bent on destroying the tranquility as he prepares to fight a bloody battle for the ownership of Redwall. This dazzling story in the Redwall series is packed with all the wit, wisdom, humor, and blood-curdling adventure of the other books in the collection, but has the added bonus of taking the reader right back to the heart and soul of Redwall Abbey and the characters who live there.

Plot summary[edit]

A young mouse named Matthias dreams of times of adventure rather than a life of quiet servitude, but he is counselled to patience by his elders. Redwall is a fixture in the local community, set in the heart of Mossflower Woods, and was designed to be a place of refuge for the beasts of the forest in times of trouble.

Trouble arrives in the form of Cluny the Scourge in the Summer of the Late Rose. Cluny is an evil, infamous rat, owning an extra-long tail with a poisoned barb on the end, and commander of a horde of vermin. He has only one eye, having lost the other in a battle with a pike, which he killed. The foebeasts arrive at the beginning of the book and make their headquarters at the Church of St. Ninian, to the south of Redwall, with the intention of taking the Abbey for themselves. Matthias in the meanwhile begins having visions of the Abbey founder Martin the warrior who guides him. The Abbey inhabitants, who refuse to back down, make ready to defend themselves if necessary; most of the inhabitants of the surrounding area are now within Redwall. None of them are particularly martial, but Redwall folk, and indeed much of the Mossflower population, are generally slow to anger but fierce fighters when roused; they are able to make an effective defence. Matthias, fearing that Cluny will still overrun them, begins a quest to find the legendary sword of Martin the Warrior, which is supposedly hidden somewhere within the Abbey. He is helped particularly by Methuselah, an ancient and grizzled mouse, who is the abbey recorder. Matthias is a brave-hearted young mouse, if small in stature, and as the story continues, his natural leadership abilities begin to emerge. Cluny, in the meanwhile, has been attempting to gain entrance to the Abbey. He deals with traitors Sela the vixen and her son Chickenhound, Sela is killed while Chickenhound seeks refuge at Redwall, but he ends up accidentally killing Methuselah after being caught stealing, he is driven out of the abbey but ends up being attacked and maimed by the adder Asmodeus who appears as a local legend and terror throughout the novel and picks off wandering creatures, Chickenhound escapes and heals himself (and would later debut as the main villain of the third book).

US cover of Redwall

Clues to the location of Martin's sword, as well as his shield and the sword's scabbard, have been built into the Abbey. Matthias recovers the shield and sword scabbard, and with Methuselah's help eventually divines where the sword is hidden. Unfortunately, it isn't there any longer, having been stolen by a wild sparrow tribe that dwells on the Abbey roof but Matthias discovers that soon after that it was stolen from them by Asmodeus. When trying to escape from the lair of the Sparra tribe with the help of Jess Squirrel, Matthias is attacked by the king of the sparrows. The two of them end up falling from the Abbey roof, resulting in the sparrow's death. After recovering, Matthias continues to the lair of the gigantic snake Asmodeus, acquiring several allies along the way: Log-a-Log, one of a local band of shrews; Basil Stag Hare, wandering do-gooder and general cad, and Warbeak Sparra, the new queen of the aforementioned sparrow tribe. He also befriends Captain Snow, an owl, and Squire Julian Gingivere, a cat. Matthias, Log-a-Log and two other Shrews succeed in retrieving the sword from Asmodeus Poisonteeth's cave but not before the Adder kills the other two, Matthias kills the snake after it tries to hypnotise him, but Martin's spirit guides him, and Matthias rushes back to Redwall to save his friends after being alerted to the fall of the abbey by the Sparra tribe.

Cluny's horde tried to dig a tunnel under the Abbey walls, but Constance the badger pours boiling water into the tunnels. The horde of rats try a battering ram, but Jess Squirrel poured oil on it so the rats cannot grab onto it; Silent Sam threw down a barrel of hornets to chase the rats away. Cluny commands his horde to climb over the walls via a siege tower, but Cornflower throws a lantern on the tower. Cluny calls the flames small, and forces the rats into the fire. The tower topples and is engulfed in flames, which kills all the rats inside. After numerous attempts and failures, Cluny forces Plumpen, a captured dormouse, to open the gate by threatening his family. Plumpen complies and Cluny finally invades the abbey, taking all the Redwallers prisoner. His victory is short-lived, however; soon after he takes over the Abbey, Matthias returns. Matthias, his new allies which are the shrews of Mossflower and the whole Sparra tribe, and the assembled Redwall population turn on their captors. Cluny strikes his poison-barb tail at Abbot Mortimer, and next targets Friar Hugo. Matthias himself defeats Cluny by dropping the Joseph Bell on him, crushing him and cracking the bell in the process. However, a great deal of damage is done and there are many casualties. Abbot Mortimer, who was slashed by Cluny's poisoned barb, dies after proclaiming Matthias Warrior of Redwall and Brother Alf the new Abbot of Redwall.

The novel closes with an epilogue. Matthias has married the fieldmouse named Cornflower and she has given birth to their son, Mattimeo, an abbreviated version of his full name: Matthias Methuselah Mortimer. Also, Brother Alf is now the Abbot, and John Churchmouse, a resident of the Abbey, is now the Abbey recorder. The cracked Joseph Bell was made into two bells: the Matthias Bell, and the Methuselah Bell.

Characters in Redwall[edit]


As Redwall was the first book set in the Redwall world, many of the defining traits of the world had not yet been hammered out, and are different from all subsequent books in the series:

The world[edit]

  • Redwall appeared to take place in the real world. Cluny was referred to as a Portuguese water rat at one point. Additionally, Methuselah claimed that one of the accounts of Cluny comes from a town dog. The horse present in the early chapters was the size of a normal horse, and the wagon it pulled was scaled to the same size – an entire army of rats was able to ride in it. Also there was a mention of cows that trampled through a village. However, Brian Jacques did not expect the book to be published, and excluded references to humans and many larger animals in later books.[2]
  • Aside from the setting of the story—an Abbey with an abbot but no apparent religious observances—the St. Ninian's Church is the only reference to any kind of religion in any of the Redwall series, implying that at one point the residents of Mossflower practised Christianity. (Although later in the series, it is rumoured that originally, the sign outside the church said "This ain't Ninian's!", and some of the letters wore away.) Jacques firmly stated that the inhabitants of Redwall Abbey practice no religion of any kind.[3][4] Cluny and his soldiers also mention Satan ("by Satan's nose" or "Hell's teeth"), referring to a belief in Hell. No other religious mentionings have happened in any of the later books. However, evil characters sometimes use the word "Hellgates" as a reference to death or dying. Dark Forest's Gates, or just Dark Forest refers to a place characters' souls go after death.

Species discrepancy[edit]

  • Redwall is the only book in the entire series that makes any mention of domesticated animals. Animals mentioned in this book – but never again in the series – include horse, dog, cow, and pig. Additionally, the Abbot mentions a "village where the dog and pigs reside", perhaps implying human habitation. In the books following this, the world of Redwall is inhabited only by wild fauna. However, in Eulalia! an owl refers to a cow in a song he sings. Moreover, various kinds of milks and cheeses are consumed by the inhabitants of Redwall, though no direct description of such farming or manufacture is ever made.
  • The beaver in Redwall is the only one to appear in the entire series. Its species has not been mentioned since.
  • Bees can communicate in Redwall, indicated by a statement at the end of the book where the Guerilla Shrews learned to speak the bee language so they could trade and argue. This was not noted in other books.
  • Foxes are indicated in Redwall as not inherently evil. It is mentioned that Abbot Mortimer used to trade tomes with "wandering healer foxes". Sela the vixen's brood of foxes was referred to as a bad lot, indicating that they were an exception and not the norm. In all later books, foxes are a "vermin" species.
  • Brother Methuselah mentions that it was Martin who gave the first Foremole his title; however, in Mossflower, Foremole is already known as such before Martin's arrival, though this is most likely because Mossflower, Martin's debut book, was published after Redwall.
  • In Redwall, the cat is scaled to real life compared to Matthias and Constance the Badger is depicted pulling a cart by herself, but in later books, badgers and wildcats are roughly the size of the other animals (if large).
  • In Redwall, Guosim was a character, a member of the Guerilla Shrews. In later books, the shrews themselves were referred to as the Guosim, and no mention of the character Guosim was made, even in Mattimeo. The Shrews did not rename themselves after her, either, indicated by the fact that they were referred to as Guosim in books chronologically earlier than Redwall. Furthermore, while the shrews appear in Redwall as an independent tribe with no alliance with the other "good" creatures, in books chronologically earlier they are shown as frequent allies. Log-a-Log, in addition, is always shown as their chief, while he is a mere ferry-shrew in Redwall. The customs of the tribe also changed dramatically: In Redwall the Guosim are democratic and the actions of the tribe are carried out by votes. In the books following, there is no voting, in fact the actions of the tribe fall primarily on the chieftain's decision.

Awards and nominations[edit]


  • Lancashire Libraries Children's Book of the Year Award[5]
  • Western Australian Young Readers' Award[5]


Book divisions (English)[edit]

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

Publication history[edit]

Select print publications:


Redwall: The Graphic Novel
Redwall The Graphic Novel Cover.jpg
Redwall: The Graphic Novel cover
AuthorBrian Jacques, Stuart Moore
IllustratorBret Blevins, Richard Starkings
CountryUnited States
Publication date
4 October 2007
Media typePrint

Redwall has been adapted into a graphic novel titled Redwall: The Graphic Novel.

Redwall was adapted into a musical called Redwall: The Legend of Redwall Abbey.[6]


  • (Dutch) De Roodburcht
    • De Aanval
    • De Zoektocht
    • De Krijger
  • (Finnish) Soturi Matiaksen Miekka
  • (French) Rougemuraille: Cluny le fléau
    • Tome 1 : Le Seigneur de la guerre
    • Tome 2 : L'Épée légendaire
    • Tome 3 : La Vipère géante
  • (German) Redwall: Der Sturm auf die Abtei
    • Die Mauer
    • Die Suche
    • Der Krieger
  • (Italian)
  • (Lithuanian) Raudonmüris
  • (Polish) Bitwa o Redwall
  • (Swedish) Cluny Gisslaren
    • Muren
    • Uppdraget
    • Krigaren
  • (Russian) old version – Рэдволл, new version – Воин Рэдволла


  1. ^ "Redwall by Brian Jacques | Scholastic". Retrieved 2019-03-05.
  2. ^ "". Archived from the original on 9 July 2006. Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  3. ^ Q&A with Brian Jacques, page 3, Retrieved 25 August 2013.
  4. ^ Q&A with Brian Jacques, page 4, Retrieved 25 August 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Brian Jacques at". Retrieved 4 August 2006.
  6. ^ Redwall: The Legend of Redwall Abbey

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Redwall Series
(chronological order)
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Redwall Series
(publication order)
Succeeded by