Brian Jacques "Redwall" books: questions, nitpicks, silliness

Such as given all the cream they eat, how do mice milk a cow? :stuck_out_tongue:

I seem to remember it being called “meadow cream”–whatever that is–so the question becomes, how do you milk a meadow? :dubious:

Not to hijack, but I used to like this series, until I realized every novel was essentially the same as every other novel, albeit with new character names and more elaborate meals. Anyone else feel this way?

Hi, I’m not actually TVTime. I’m his wife, but he knows how much I love the Redwall series so he asked if I wanted to read this thread. OK, granted the stories are a little redundant, but imaginatively so, you must admit.

Not all of the stories deal with Redwall Abbey, or even with quests leading from the abbey. For example, *The Long Patrol *is about a young hare who sets out to become a great warrior. Then there are the stories about the great Badger Lords. While the Badger Hall, Salamandastron, may just be a revised version of Redwall, it is at least different in characters and tone.

And yeah, the meadowcream is a stretch, but this is a fantasy after all. We humans get milk from lots of animals other than cows, so perhaps the mice get their “meadowcream” from some unspecified kind of flower or nut. They certainly have enough cheeses. Reading a Redwall story always makes me hungry, but it also makes me feel safe, comfortable, and happy knowing that the herioc creatures of old still live in the imaginations of modern writers.

For some reason I associate meadowcream with milkweed.

  1. Dandelion milk?

  2. An elaborate system of ropes and pulleys.

I only read the first book, and I could never figure out what scale Redwall Abbey was. Was it a human-sized abbey, or rodent-sized?

Rodent-sized, I believe. Although oddly the church the Churchmouses live in seems to be human-sized.

The cheese the beasts of the Redwall world eat is made from plants (this much, and part of the process of making it is detailed in Outcast of Redwall). I would assume the cream is, too.

And what scale the buildings (like the Abbey, the Churchmice’s church, etc) are built on - in fact the very presence (past or present) of humans - seems to change between Redwall and the other books - Redwall is the only one to mention horse-drawn wagons - or horses, or anything else larger than a badger or large cat.

I think Jaques was assuming the presence, or recent disappearance, of humans in Redwall, then thought this restricted him too much, and in later books assumed an all-furre world.

My question is: how do the beasts age - all at the same rate, or do, for instance, mice age faster than cats?

Badgers are known to be extremely long lived. I assume it’s size related. Largely like it is in the real world.

…no. hold on a minute. i think the REAL answer here, is quite obvious.
yes im sure the creatures in redwall and around supplement their meals and dishes
with sap and other substances knowing full well their culinary use.
But-theres no goats. no horses except in one book. no mules. no sheep. no dogs(?) and they have no cows. and if they do, they certainly dont talk about it. to get milk-drumroll- they get milk from their own females breasts.
hard to read?

guess what. you need a breast for milk. the majority of milk, comes from a breast.

were civilized and adult enough to come to terms with this. so lets face up to it.

according to historical records too, back in the day they had medieval breast pump

implements. where is the biggest proof that this goes on in redwall all the time?

because the subject is largely avoided. its ‘go-arounded’ in brians storys. Brian neither

here nor there is ever going to have a sentence revealing this because true that is not

all for kids-but we know it happens because the subject here is very quiet. the largest

creatures, right before your eyes with the largest mammaries available, thats where it

comes from on a regular basis. badgers. cats. and any others of a particular size and

who are pregnant, rats too im sure being all out on the high-seas and everything for

days with limited food options.

milk comes from a titty.

and in redwall it does too.

I greatly enjoy the Redwall books, and find them a comfortable, pleasant bit of light reading. That said, Jacques has a lot to answer for in terms of consistent world-building, and even thematic elements in the later books.

Relative sizing of creatures: This is never really addressed, Jacques preferring to let the reader figure it out on their own. We know that they roughly follow the natural order of things, but there is either a lot of fiddling going on or certain creatures are simply immeasurably super-powered. Badgers, Otters, Foxes, and many of the occasional solitary species villains are of a size in real life; yet Jacques consistently seems to paint them as wildly differing in size and power. Likewise, Mice of all types, voles, and shrews are quite a bit smaller than any of even the smallest vermin species, yet they are painted as match one on one. (He does mention that shrews are small) It can be hard to square all this up in your mind if you think about it, so I prefer to simply think of everything on a proportional human scale. They are still all small animals, but the smallest mouse is comparable to say a four and half foot human, while the biggest badger or villain is like a seven and half foot wrestler. This lines up the problem of the abbey size nicely as well.

Thematically, I have a problem with Jacques’ characterization in later novels. He seems to be moving towards a black and white world where simply being a member of a species determines your goodness or worth. This wasn’t the case in earlier novels where we saw far more shades of grey involved in both the good guys and the bad guys. Regardless of whether or not this is simply laziness on the part of the authour, there are rather blatant racist undertones and it makes me squirm occasionally when the “good guys” act in an incredibly callous and violent manner and are lauded for it. The Long Patrol, a supposed bastion of order and fairness, has recently seem to devolve into nothing more than authoritarian bunch of benevolent dictators. They seem only interested in preserving order for those species the do not deem vermin, and happily trample over the wrong species; even when those individuals aren’t associated with the big bad and haven’t offered them anything but minor insults.

I eventually gave up on following the series, so I can’t speak to the very-much-later books, but I thought this was always Jacques’s MO and probably my single biggest criticism of the books. There was even a fairly early book (I think?) where the Redwall mice took in some “vermin”-species youngster and tried to raise it to be a good and decent creature, but it couldn’t overcome its “nature” and wound up betraying them. :rolleyes:

I still love Redwall (the first book) and return to it from time to time. I remember when I read it the first time, tears coming up when I thought Matthias had died, and skipping madly forward to confirm that he hadn’t.

That was Mattimeo (the third book), and not quite how it happened. The rat, named Vitch, was rather viciously mistreated by Matti and the other kids, and was actually the better of the two - until Slagar comes and is able to recruit him, because he has no loyalty to the abbey, since they treated him horribly. (ISTR, he eventually comes to his senses and tries to help the slaves in the end, but I mostly remember thinking the whole way through how much could have been avoided if Mattimeo and his friends hadn’t been such bullies.)

There are a number of good Vermin (notably Blaggut the rat), a number of…redeemable, but not redeemed Vermin (like Veil Sixclaw), and uncountable ‘goodbeasts’ who are complete bastards (bullies like Mattimeo, self-serving quislings like…a couple different characters in various books, or just belligerent idiots like half the squirrels and no few otters and hares in the series).

I ran through a list of the books the other day and realized that half or more of them suck.

That said, the good ones were some of the best reading I did as a child.

My first wife was a big fan of this series. I read the first couple and couldn’t take any more. Too twee by half, they were. I did, however, nickname one of my ferrets Ferahgo. It suited him better than Winston, which was the name he came with.

Ahh, my mistake. It’s been a long time since I’ve read anything other than Redwall; it’s the only one I go back to.

ETA: Actually, wait–I think I was thinking of Outcast of Redwall, not Mattimeo.

Outcast is actually the last book I read, so it doesn’t count as ‘early’ to me. (It’s about 1/3 of the way through the series.)

Yeah, Veil is kind of the opposite of Vitch - they actually treated him well, but he acted like…well, like Vermin. Until he sacrifices himself, near the end.

True but if you notice, most of the “redeemable” sort are simpletons or have some other sort of defect that makes them less than capable within normal society. The earlier novels were rather decent as the characters moved back and forth along the spectrum and (usually) were justly rewarded accordingly. In later novels, Jacques blatantly lauds the complete bastards regardless of action or motivation so long as they are of the correct sort. “The only good Vermin is a dead vermin” seems to be the notion of the day, rather than a hero fighting a just war against a capable enemy as seen in earlier work. If this exchange went both ways, I could see it as a blurring of the lines, which would actually be rather deep for such light material. As it stands though, it comes off rather disturbing to the flow of the story.

The lady from the office across the hall from me has an earsplitting laugh, and she lets loose with it at the drop of a hat. Every time I hear her I think of the Honourable Rosemary (and I can sympathize with her fellows on the Long Patrol)