Redwall: Reading it as an Adult

Check out Mariel of Redwall then, Rawnblade Widestripe is the coolest badger lord by far.

He used the term “fantastic racism”. I don’t know if that’s the legitimate literary term or not. In any case it’s annoying not for moral reasons but instead for literary ones (it’s lazy writing, and also predictable and cliché). It’s worse than LOTR or ST because in those they are nations or armies, whereas in Redwall they are often individuals or a conglomeration of different warring parties. Also, there are very rarely counter examples whereas in Star Trek at least there are many examples of good or noble Romulans, Cardasians, etc. And I did find this aspect of LOTR somewhat tiresome.

Agreed. I hate the species x is cowardly and species y is nice but will fight but species z is evil and greedy thing. It is lazy and gets old fast. Planet of Hats as TV Tropes says. I thought that you guys were talking about it from a moral viewpoint which doesn’t really bother me, but it is obnoxious.

I also hate cats are sneaky/evil/lazy because it gets so old. I liked the TV show Sagwa (okay, it’s a kids’ show…) because the cats were pretty awesome and you didn’t see the “cat stereotypes.” Not because they offend me or because I love cats so much but it was cool to see them represented with an array of characteristics.

Thanks! With a name like that, you HAVE to be cool.

That’s how I read it as a child, but currently reading through, I’m 99% of the way through and Cluny has been easily beaten at every step of the way by a bunch of non-soldiers. He’s lost his entire staff of captains twice over, suffered massive casualties, and himself fallen out of a tree to get all busted up. He’s been impressively ineffective if you look at the book through the eyes of someone who ignores what the author is saying and only pays attention to what the author is actually showing to occur. He can say that Cluny is clever, unstoppable, massively evil, etc. but he never displays any of that.

Similarly, reading through Matthias’ adventures, I don’t get the feeling like Matthias was making friends who were helping him out so much as that he’s running around getting into trouble and adult characters are stepping in to save him so that he doesn’t get himself killed–or at least that this is how it should be written if the writer was being honest about it.

I understand that Mr. Jacques is intending it to be that “God” is stepping in and holding back the tide for just long enough for Matthias to go out and get what he needs to win the day. But God is being just a bit too effective through this all, undercutting the necessity of fetching that particular sword out of all swords in the world. And again, he should have continued to have sent dreams/visions to Matthias from Martin, to re-inforce that mystical things are afoot and that those can only hold out so long. Dropping that whole point 1/10th of the way through the book is leaving quite a bit to faith. And there’s no particular reason to see any of the successes against Cluny’s army as mystical without them. Laser beams haven’t come out of the sky to blast away rats, our main characters prepared for and acted appropriately against mundane assaults.

I always thought it was horse shit that they only reason Cluny breached the walls was Plumpen’s betrayal of the Abbey. It would have been nice if Cluny had managed to out-soldier the peace-loving critters.
Jacques loves his warrior characters and pretty well belabors the point that warriors are needed even if peace is the goal so I’ve always been a little confused by his reluctance to let the unprepared peacenicks in Redwall suffer a little bit for their naivete.

I never really saw it as being racism, more along the lines of the meat eaters are genuinely villainous that coupled with goal orientation. . The fanged groups(villainous) tend to be driven by there need to conquer and have pretty bobbles. Whilst the salad tossers(good/neutral) characters usually were orientated towards educating the young and protecting the weak. They were content to be farmers with no need to expand there domains. Aside from The Long patrol, Badgers and guiosm. Fighting was only done by select few unless driven to defend. So in sumation. I think the author was less thinking of it with racial undertones and more along the lines, that in nature those creatures who consumes flesh are more prone to be chaotic and evil than those who would eat berries an twigs to survive. .

(And birds were chatoic neutral, they aspired to do what bettered themselves. And snakes, adder’s, pikes and other sea creatures merely matter if wrong place wrong time they never sought out with malicious intent, excluding asmodasis)

Also in the first book does anyone remember the barn cat who was substantial larger than the mice. But then a wildcat was almost equal in stature. That always bothered me lol

By far my favorite warriors have been rakkety tam and doogy.
Saddest moment for me reading these books was when Russa Nodrey died. I legit couldn’t read cause if the tears and had to take a break.

I only ever read Redwall as an adult, when one of my children got hooked.

I certainly enjoyed them, but they were light fantasy, and Redwall books have never made it into the rotation of books that I re-read.
I think I found the world-building too simplistic, and there wasn’t enough complexity and depth to the motivations of the characters.

I might feel differently if I had read them at an earlier stage of life - as a pre-teen.

I hadn’t heard of the specific term before—thanks, smiling bandit. TVTropes page: Fantastic Racism

It is indeed “speciesism,” and it’s almost inevitable in stories about anthropomorphized animals, as well as other fantastic fiction that involves multiple species. It’s not necessarily a flaw or a bad thing from a literary standpoint, but I admit it does sometimes worry me, that reading stories in which “people” come in different kinds/races/species, with different characteristics or abilities or personality traits or moral qualities depending on which group they belong to, may encourage readers to, consciously or unconsciously, think of people in our real world as belonging to different “species.”

Rats are meat eaters and mice and badgers aren’t?

It is a flaw in general and in these books in specific.

One of my kids read these and I read along some. So read what I read as an adult. The shorthand for these species good and these ones bad made for lazy uninteresting reading. You know that no matter how nice a carnivore seemed to be they’d be evil because those sort can’t help themselves that way. And yes it teaches that lazy and harmful way of thinking. To his credit my kid found it annoying and trite too.

Orcs were created as evil. No individual orc was an interesting character. OTOH there was good and bad among all the other species even if all had traits in common with others of their kind.

The other thing that struck me about the books was the insufferably long and annoyingly detailed descriptions of the vegetarian feasts. Dang I’d rather have read an extra Melville chapter on knots!

Mind you I didn’t read along much as it was clearly boring drivel and he, a childhood voracious reader, only read one or two of them.

I’m not sure if it existed the first time around for this thread, but, as usual,
there’s an XKCD for that.

LOTR is complex, but yes, there’s some racism there – even if you accept the orcs=evil as sort of necessary, all the bad men are ‘swarthy’ or ‘sallow’ while anyone described as ‘fair’ is of course good. But I don’t think it was intentional by Tolkien, and suspect he would have revised a lot of that away if he realized it was there. For instance, dwarves and elves are not always perfectly good – they squabble and fight and kill each other on occasion. And note that at one critical point Tolkien expresses sympathy for an anonymous man in Sauron’s army. Finally, of course one of the main themes of the whole thing is that redemption is always possible for those willing to accept it.

Dwarves and elves are more than “not always perfectly good”, although this is seen more in the Silmarillion than in LOTR. Arguably most of the great tragedies of the First Age resulted from bad behavior by various elves, like Thingol’s greed which led to the destruction of Doriath, and of course Feanor’s pride which resulted in the Kinslaying, the abandonment and estrangement of Fingolfin’s people, and the lack of unity among the Beleriandic elves. And some elves were just assholes, like Eol and Saeros.