The Redwall book series by the late Brian Jacques is one of the biggest and best fantasy series for kids ever written. Spanning nearly three decades and over 20 books, the stories of the titular red-stoned abbey and the mice that live within it were massively popular with kids of the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s
Though the franchise came to an end in 2011 due to Jacques’s unfortunate death from an aneurysm at the age of 71, the 22 books that he left us with continue to remain a favorite of kids worldwide. Even today, we all still love characters like Matthias, Martin the Warrior, and Mariel of Redwall. Here are just a few of the really excellent books to be found in the Redwall series.
The story that started it all. Redwall introduced us to the world of Redwall Abbey, the legend of Martin the Warrior, and to the kind of epic story we could expect from this franchise. A young mouse named Matthias is orphaned and forced to flee to Redwall Abbey, only for it to be attacked years later by the same sea-rat that killed his family, Cluny The Scourge.
With a lovable cast of characters, genuine tension and some surprisingly dark moments (main characters straight-up die throughout the book), it set the tone for the rest of the series, and we loved it for it. They even made it into a cartoon series, along with Mattimeo and Martin the Warrior.
The followup to Redwall jumps back in history to when Martin the Warrior first comes to Mossflower Wood and founds the Abbey along with refugees from another abbey called Loamhedge. The story here is full of enough political intrigue and betrayal to make George R. R. Martin blush, and it’s interesting to get a look at a history that the first book only hints at.
Mariel of Redwall (1991)
In a story of personal revenge, Mariel, a young mouse escaping from a group of pirates, searches for her father and aims to kill the sea-rats that had kept her imprisoned. One of the few Redwall books with a female protagonist (who is one of the series’ absolute best), it also tells the story of Redwall Abbey’s famous giant bell, a plot point from previous stories!
The badgers are easily the most badass of the hero races of the Redwall series; they live in the giant volcano fortress of Salamandastron, defend Mossflower from any number of scary things, and fly into a rage called the “Bloodwrath” whenever they fight. So of course, the first book to focus on a badger lord protagonist is one of the most badass of all the books.
The books get even more awesome from here…
Outcast of Redwall (1995)
One of the darkest and most interesting stories of Redwall, Outcast is notable for its complex villain; the titular outcast Swartt Six-claw, a ferret who was exiled from the abbey. It’s an different take on the franchise, showing us that even Redwall Abbey itself is capable of doing bad things and hurting its residents.
The Long Patrol (1997)
The Long Patrol is a group of hares that march and defend the countryside, and before now they’d shown up in some way or another in plenty of the Redwall books, but never as the main characters. This book finds them fighting for their lives while fleeing through the countryside from an army that outnumbers them 10 to 1, and the results give you one of the most tense and gripping books in the series.
The Marlfoxes, a gang of pirate foxes operating out of an ancient sea fortress, steal the tapestry of Martin the Warrior from Redwall Abbey, leading a small group from the abbey to chase after them and get it back. If you’re a fan of adventure on the high seas and lots of action, this is definitely the Redwall book for you.
Lord Brocktree (2000)
Taking place before the entire rest of the franchise, Lord Brocktree finds the titular badger leaving his home to seek out the legendary fortress passed down in badger legends, Salamandastron (which got us all pretty excited). It works as both a coming of age story and a sprawling epic, as young Brocktree navigates a series of grueling challenges on his path to becoming the first Badger Lord.
A kidnapped otter grows up among an army of vermin, only for him to ultimately decide he’s had enough of life as a criminal and deserts the group. While being pursued by his former family, he goes on a journey of self-discovery and redemption, ultimately coming across one of the most powerful artifacts in the Redwall universe; the sword of Martin the Warrior! Great stuff.