Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Brian Jacques
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Penguin, 2002   ISBN: 978-0142302378

Matthias, a novice mouse at Redwall Abbey, dreams of becoming a warrior like the great Redwall hero, Martin the Warrior. Abbot Mortimer tells his young charge that the "day of the warrior is gone" and that Matthias has to learn how to live a different, peaceful sort of life; he must accept, with good grace and humility, the simple jobs that are given to him. Poor, clumsy and dreamy Matthias, who is not in the least a warrior-type of mouse, cannot help wishing that things were otherwise.

Then one day the Abbot and his Redwall creatures discover that those times are not gone after all. As Redwall bakes in the warmth of the summer sun, Cluny the Scourge with his horde of rats arrives in Mossflower. As soon as Cluny sees Redwall he decides that he must have the great abbey for himself. It would make a perfect headquarters for his vicious gang, and a stately and impressive residence for an animal who intends to rule over the whole country of Mossflower.

Suddenly, and with little time to prepare, the peaceful animals of Redwall have to adopt a new way of life. They have to learn how to fight and how to scheme. They have to do everything that they can to protect Redwall and  keep the mice, squirrels and other creatures that live there safe from harm.

To the astonishment of all, including himself, Matthias steps easily out of his role as a bumbling novice and into a new role as champion of Redwall. As Cluny tries to find ways to get into Redwall, Matthias seeks the legendary sword of Martin, sure in his heart that once he has the sword he will truly be Martin's heir and will be able to protect his home and his friends.

Packed with gripping action, riddles, and mysteries, this first book in the Redwall series is sure to whet the appetite of the reader. The characters are rich, and so vivid that the reader begins to feel as if they are friends, or enemies, as the case may be. Among others we meet moles who speak in an endearing dialect; a hare who eats more than anyone else imagines is possible; a sparrow who has great courage and ferocity; and a mouse who never gives up.

Set in a world filled with animal characters, in a time when one has to live off the land, and fend off enemies, to survive, this is a fantasy title that offers readers a memorable reading experience.