Book 1: Redwall
Author: Brian Jacques, 1986
Genre: Children's Fantasy. Adventure.
Other Details: 351 pages (US Hardback Edition).
Redwall Abbey is a place of peace, where the young mouse Matthias lives with the other mice of the Redwall order. They spend their days fishing, farming, gathering, and eating the most sumptuous feasts - and generally being peaceable, caring friends to the creatures who live in the woodlands surrounding the Abbey. The squirrels, the moles, the otters, shrews, hares and badgers are among those creatures who call themselves friend.
But Cluny is coming!
Cluny the Scourge is the stuff of nightmares. Mothers use Cluny as a sort of boogeyman, to scare their youngsters back into line. No one really believed that he was anything but a spooky tale, until he and his horde of rats, stoats and weasels banged on the doors of the abbey. They didn't want sanctuary, they wanted to conquer, to steal and to kill if necessary.
It's up to Matthias, young and untested as he is, to channel the spirit of Martin the Warrior, locate his long missing sword, and lead the Redwall creatures to victory over the evil Cluny.
I really loved these books when I first read them as a child, and I'm loving them the second time around. Jacques originally wrote them for his students at a school for the blind - because the children obviously couldn't look at the pictures in the books he read them, he wanted to write something that would stir their imaginations. In this he definitely succeeded.
The descriptions of the feasts are detailed enough that you can almost taste the (almost entirely) vegetarian dishes. You can picture the lush greenness of the woodlands, the rush of the rivers and the warm, welcoming sandstone walls of the Abbey. The recounting of the epic battles makes you feel like you are there, watching with your heart in your throat as you become every bit invested in the outcome as the creatures actually fighting!
If you like fantasy stories, epic adventures, and animals (and you don't mind the absence of a single human character), you stand a good chance of liking these books just as much as I do.