Thursday, August 28, 2014

Throwback Thursday Review: Redwall by Brian Jacques

New feature time! I will do Throwback Reviews every Thursday. Reviewing books from the good old days.

By: Brian Jacques
Genre: MG Fantasy
First Published: 1986
Publisher: Philomel Books
POV: Third-person - multiple narrators
Kat's Rating: 4 out of 5

Welcome to Redwall Abbey. Inside its enormous doors, mice live in peace, helping those in need and throwing epic feasts for the great and the good of Mossflower Woods. But outside a grave threat is gathering. An army of evil rats led by a vicious, one-eyed warlord, is on its way.
Matthias is just one little mouse but he knows it'll take more than stones and mouse-sized arrows to keep the rats at bay. Enlisting the help of a military hare, wild sparrows and argumentative stoats, Matthias sets out to defend his freedom, his friends, and the abbey he calls home.
Main Character: Matthias is like the Frodo--the Luke Skywalker--the Harry Potter of the story. He is "average" in an amazing way. He has to be strong and brave in order to overcome his small stature. He actually has a leadership quality that he needs to learn to harness if he's going to help lead the Abbey inhabitants against Cluny.

Love Connection: Cornflower, she's sweet and strong. The romance is not a central interest, so it's more like Harry Potter in the sense that they have a love, but it's not integral to the story or characters.

Allies and Enemies: Cluny the Scourge. He's a rat with one eye and an extra long tail with a barb at the end. He's part barbarian, part pirate, part Hun.

Brother Methuselah is an old grizzled record-keeper. He is like a kind old tutor (or a maester if you've ever read Game of Thrones). He's also someone who believes in the legend of Martin the Warrior and his powerful sword (supposedly hidden somewhere deep within the abbey).

The Sparra tribe, a wild group of Sparrows that live high in the Abbey's eves. The queen is Warbeak Sparra and she is one of my favorite characters. She's a little rough around the edges, but she's also pretty strong and cool.

Basil Stag Hare, he reminds me of Sir Didymus in the Labyrinth. He has a lot of bravado, but unlike Sir Didymus he has some skills to back it up. He's an expert at camouflage and offers a lot of comedic moments in the book.

Setting: Redwall Abbey in Mossflower woods. No time-period is actually described but it feels like the Middle Ages, but with mice and hares and badgers. The world is pretty complex with it's own folk-lore and mythology.

"Even the strongest and bravest must sometimes weep. It shows they have a great heart, one that can feel compassion for others."

Review: Brian Jacques is quoted as saying: "Mice are my heroes because, like children, mice are little and have to learn to be courageous and use their wits."

Seriously Brian Jacques, you're too adorable, get out of here. But actually don't because I love reading your books. 

This book was a great part of my childhood. I wrote "spin-offs" of these books as some of my first experiences with writing. It has the adventure of Percy Jackson, the puzzles of Harry Potter, and the setting of Game of Thrones. And it came BEFORE all of these books!

It also became multiple different television and movie versions.

These books definitely hold up over time and I would recommend them to anyone who loves middle grade fantasy and adventure.

Also, you guys. If you like reading about food, food in general, or just eating then you HAVE to read these books. The food descriptions are epic.

Recommendations: The Dark Portal by Robin Jarvis, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O'Brien

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