Redwall by Brian Jacques
About the Book
About the Author
Also by Brian Jacques
BOOK ONE: THE WALL
BOOK TWO: THE QUEST
BOOK THREE: THE WARRIOR
About the Book
‘Listen to me friends. We of Redwall are a tough old lot to kill off’
Welcome to Redwall Abbey. Inside its enormous doors, mice live in peace, helping those in need and throwing epic feasts for the great and the good of Mossflower Woods.
But outside a grave threat is gathering. An army of evil rats led by a vicious, one-eyed warlord, is on its way …
Matthias is just one little mouse but he knows it’ll take more than stones and mouse-sized arrows to keep the rats at bay. Enlisting the help of a military hare, wild sparrows and argumentative stoats, Matthias sets out to defend his freedom, his friends, and the abbey he calls home.
BACKSTORY: Learn to make a Redwall Abbey pudding!
About the Author
Brian Jacques was born in Liverpool in 1939. His first name was actually James, but because his father and one of his brothers were also called James, he was known as Brian. As a child, he loved to read adventure stories. His favourites were books like King Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.
He left school aged fifteen, to seek adventure as a merchant sailor, and many of the colourful characters he met on his voyages ended up appearing in the Redwall books in mouse form. When he returned to Liverpool, he held a variety of jobs. One was delivering milk to the Royal School for the Blind in Wavertree. He made friends with many of the children there, and enjoyed reading books to them, and telling them stories of his own. One of these stories was the tale of Redwall. Encouraged by how much the children enjoyed it, he began to write his stories down. The first Redwall book started as an 800-page manuscript, which was considered very long for a children’s book.
Brian went on to write thirty-five books, many of them about the mythical world of Redwall and all its inhabitants. He loved reading these stories aloud to children. He died in 2011 aged seventy-one.
Have a look at the official Redwall website to find out much more information about Brian Jacques and the Redwall series: http://www.redwallabbey.com/
ALSO BY BRIAN JACQUES
The Redwall Series
The Legend of Luke
Martin the Warrior
Outcast of Redwall
Mariel of Redwall
The Pearls of Lutra
The Long Patrol
The Sable Quean
The Rogue Crew
Other Redwall Books
The Great Redwall Feast
Redwall Map and Riddler
Redwall Friend and Foe
A Redwall Winter’s Tale
The Tribes of Redwall Badgers
The Tribes of Redwall Otters
The Tribes of Redwall Mice
The Redwall Cookbook
Who says that I am dead
Knows nought at all.
I – am that is,
Two mice within Redwall.
The Warrior sleeps
’Twixt Hall and Cavern Hole.
I – am that is,
Take on my mighty role.
Look for the sword
In moonlight streaming forth,
At night, when day’s first hour
Reflects the North.
From o’er the threshold
Seek and you will see;
I – am that is,
My sword will wield for me.
(Rhyme from beneath the Great Hall tapestry)
It was the start of the Summer of the Late Rose. Mossflower country shimmered gently in a peaceful haze, bathing delicately at each dew-laden dawn, blossoming through high sunny noontides, languishing in each crimsontinted twilight that heralded the soft darkness of June nights.
Redwall stood foursquare along the marches of the old south border, flanked on two sides by Mossflower Woods’ shaded depths. The other half of the Abbey overlooked undulating sweeps of meadowland, its ancient gate facing the long dusty road on the western perimeter.
From above, it resembled some fabulous dusky jewel, fallen between a green mantle of light silk and dark velvet. The first mice had built the Abbey of red sandstone quarried from pits many miles away in the north-east. The Abbey building was covered across its south face by that type of ivy known as Virginia creeper. The onset of autumn would turn the leaves into a cape of fiery hue, thus adding further glory to the name and legend of Redwall Abbey.
MATTHIAS CUT A comical little figure as he wobbled his way along the cloisters, with his large sandals flip-flopping and his tail peeping from beneath the baggy folds of an over-sized novice’s habit. He paused to gaze upwards at the cloudless blue sky and tripped over the enormous sandals. Hazelnuts scattered out upon the grass from the rush basket he was carrying. Unable to stop, he went tumbling cowl over tail.
The young mouse squeaked in dismay. He rubbed tenderly at his damp snub nose whilst slowly taking stock of where he had landed: directly at the feet of Abbot Mortimer!
Immediately Matthias scrambled about on all fours, hastily trying to stuff nuts back into the basket as he muttered clumsy apologies, avoiding the stern gaze of his elder.
‘Er, sorry, Father Abbot. I tripped, y’see. Trod on my Abbot, Father Habit. Oh dear, I mean….
The Father Abbot blinked solemnly over the top of his glasses. Matthias again. What a young buffoon of a mouse. Only the other day he had singed old Brother Methuselah’s whiskers while lighting candles.
The elder’s stern expression softened. He watched the little novice rolling about on
‘Oh Matthias, Matthias, my son,’ he said wearily. ‘When will you learn to take life a little slower, to walk with dignity and humility? How can you ever hope to be accepted as a mouse of Redwall, when you are always dashing about grinning from whisker to tail like a mad rabbit?’
Matthias tossed the last of the hazelnuts into the basket and stood awkwardly shuffling his large sandals in the grass. How could he say aloud what was in his heart?
The Abbot put his paw around the young mouse’s shoulders, sensing his secret yearnings, for he had ruled Redwall wisely over a great number of years and gained much experience of mouselife. He smiled down at his young charge and spoke kindly to him. ‘Come with me, Matthias. It is time we talked together.’
A curious thrush perching in a gnarled pear tree watched the two figures make their way at a sedate pace in the direction of Great Hall, one clad in the dark greeny-brown of the order, the other garbed in the lighter green of a novice. They conversed earnestly in low tones. Thinking what a clever bird he was, the thrush swooped down on the basket that had been left behind. Twisters! The basket contained only hard nuts, locked tight within their shells. Feigning lack of interest, lest any other birds had been witness to his silly mistake, he began jauntily whistling a few bars of his melodious summer song, strolling nonchalantly over to the cloister walls in search of snails.
It was cool inside Great Hall. Sunlight flooded down in slanting rainbow-hued shafts from the high, narrow stained-glass windows. A million coloured dust-motes danced and swirled as the two mice trod the ancient stone floor. The Father Abbot halted in front of the wall on which hung a long tapestry. This was the pride and joy of Redwall. The oldest part had been woven by the founders of the abbey, but each successive generation had added to it; thus the tapestry was not only a priceless treasure, it was also a magnificent chronicle of early Redwall history.
The Abbot studied the wonderment in Matthias’s eyes as he asked him a question, the answer to which the wise mouse already knew. ‘What are you looking at, my son?’
Matthias pointed to the figure woven into the tapestry. It was a heroic-looking mouse with a fearless smile on his handsome face. Clad in armour, he leaned casually on an impressive sword, while behind him foxes, wildcats, and vermin fled in terror. The young mouse gazed in admiration.
‘Oh, Father Abbot,’ he sighed. ‘If only I could be like Martin the Warrior. He was the bravest, most courageous mouse that ever lived!’
The Abbot sat down slowly on the cool stone floor, resting his back against the wall.
‘Listen to what I say, Matthias. You have been like a son to me, ever since you first came to our gates as an orphaned woodland mouse, begging to be taken in. Come, sit by me and I will try to explain to you what our Order is all about.
‘We are mice of peace. Oh, I know that Martin was a warrior mouse, but those were wild days when strength was needed. The strength of a champion such as Martin. He arrived here in the deep winter when the Founders were under attack from many foxes, vermin, and a great wildcat. So fierce a fighter was Martin that he faced the enemy single-pawed, driving them mercilessly, far from Mossflower. During the rout Martin fought a great battle against overwhelming odds. He emerged victorious after slaying the wildcat with his ancient sword, which became famous throughout the land. But in the last bloody combat Martin was seriously wounded. He lay injured in the snow until the mice found him. They brought him back to the Abbey and cared for his hurts until he regained his strength.
‘Then something seemed to come over him. He was transformed by what could only be called a mouse miracle. Martin forsook the way of the warrior and hung up his sword.
‘That was when our Order found its true vocation. All the mice took a solemn vow never to harm another living creature, unless it was an enemy that sought to harm our Order by violence. They vowed to heal the sick, care for the injured, and give aid to the wretched and impoverished. So was it written, and so has it been through all the ages of mousekind since.
‘Today, we are a deeply honoured and highly respected Society. Anywhere we go, even far beyond Mossflower, we are treated with courtesy by all creatures. Even predators will not harm a mouse who wears the habit of our Order. They know he or she is one who will heal and give aid. It is an unwritten law that Redwall mice can go anywhere, through any territory, and pass unharmed. At all times we must live up to this. It is our way, our very life.’
As the Abbot spoke, so his voice increased in volume and solemnity. Matthias sat under his stern gaze, completely humbled. Abbot Mortimer stood and put a wrinkled old paw lightly on the small head, right between the velvety ears, now drooping with shame.
Once more the Abbot’s heart softened towards the little mouse. ‘Poor Matthias, alas for your ambitions. The day of the warrior is gone, my son. We live in peaceful times, thank heaven and you need only think of obeying me, your Abbot, and doing as you are bidden. In time to come, when I am long gone to my rest, you will think back to this day and bless my memory, for then you will be a true member of Redwall. Come now, my young friend, cheer up; it is the Summer of the Late Rose. There are many, many days of warm sun ahead of us. Go back and get your basket of hazelnuts. Tonight we have a great feast to celebrate – my Golden Jubilee as Abbot. When you’ve taken the nuts to the kitchen, I have a special task for you. Yes indeed, I’ll need some fine fish for the table. Get your rod and line. Tell Brother Alf that he is to take you fishing in the small boat. That’s what young mice like doing, isn’t it? Who knows, you may land a fine trout or some sticklebacks! Run along now, young one.’
Happiness filled Matthias from tail to whiskers as he bobbed a quick bow to his superior and shuffled off. Smiling benignly, the Abbot watched him go. Little rascal, he must have a word with the Almoner, to see if some sandals could be found that were the right fit for Matthias. Small wonder the poor mouse kept tripping up!
THE HIGH, WARM sun shone down on Cluny the Scourge.
Cluny was coming!
He was big, and tough; an evil rat with ragged fur and curved, jagged teeth. He wore a black eyepatch; his eye had been torn out in battle with a pike.
Cluny had lost an eye.
The pike had lost its life!
Some said that Cluny was a Portuguese rat. Others said he came from the jungles far across the wide oceans. Nobody knew for sure.
Cluny was a bilge rat; the biggest, most savage rodent that ever jumped from ship to shore. He was black, with grey and pink scars all over his huge sleek body, from the tip of his wet nose, up past his green and yellow slitted eye, across both his mean tattered ears, down the length of his heavy vermin-ridden back to the enormous whiplike tail which had earned him his title: Cluny the Scourge!
Now he rode on the back of the hay wagon with his five hundred followers, a mighty army of rats: sewer rats, tavern rats, water rats, dockside rats. Cluny’s army – fearing, yet following him. Redtooth, his second-in-command, carried a long pole. This was Cluny’s personal standard, and the skull of a ferret was fixed at its top. Cluny had killed the ferret. He feared no living thing.
Wild eyed, with the terror of rat smell in its nostrils, the horse plunged ahead without any driver. Where the hay cart was taking him was of little concern to Cluny. Straight on the panicked horse galloped, past the milestone lodged in the earth at the roadside, heedless of the letters graven in the stone: ‘Redwall Abbey, fifteen miles’.
Cluny spat over the edge of the cart at two young rabbits playing in a field. Tasty little things; a pity the cart hadn’t stopped yet, he thought. The high warm sun shone down on Cluny the Scourge.
Cluny was a God of War!
Cluny was coming nearer!
BENEATH THE GREAT Hall of Redwall, candles burned bright in their sconces. This was the Cavern Hole of the mic
What a night it was going to be!
Between them, Matthias and Brother Alf had caught and landed a fully-grown grayling. They had fought and played the big fish for nearly two hours, finally wading into the shallows and dragging it to the bank. It was nearly two pounds in weight, a tribute to Brother Alf’s angling skills combined with the youthful muscles of Matthias, and their joint enthusiasm.
Constance the badger had to be called. Gripping the fish in her strong jaws, she followed the two mice to the Abbey kitchen and delivered the catch for them. Then she made her farewells; they would see her at the Jubilee feast that evening, along with lots of other Mossflower residents who had been invited to share the festivities.
Brother Alf and Matthias stood proudly beside their catch amidst the culinary hustle and bustle until they were noticed by Friar Hugo. Busy as he was, the enormously fat Hugo (who would have no other title but that of Friar) stopped what he was doing. Wiping the perspiration from his brow with a dandelion which he held with his tail, he waddled about inspecting the fish.
‘Hmm, nice shiny scales, bright eyes, beautifully fresh.’ Friar Hugo smiled so joyfully that his face disappeared amid deep dimples. He shook Alf by the paw and clapped Matthias heartily on the back as he called out between chuckles, ‘Bring the white gooseberry wine! Fetch me some rosemary, thyme, beechnuts and honey, quickly. And now, friends, now,’ he squeaked, waving the dandelion wildly with his tail, ‘I, Hugo, will create a Grayling à la Redwall that will melt in the mouth of mice. Fresh cream! I need lots of fresh cream! Bring some mint leaves too.’
They had left Friar Hugo ranting on, delirious in his joy, as they both went off to bathe and clean up; combing whiskers, curling tails, shining noses, and the hundred and one other grooming tasks that Redwall mice always performed in preparation for an epic feast.
The rafters of Cavern Hole rang to the excited buzz and laughter of the assembled creatures: hedgehogs, moles, squirrels, woodland creatures and mice of all kinds – fieldmice, hedgemice, dormice, even a family of poor little churchmice. Kindly helpers scurried about making everybody welcome.
‘Hello there, Mrs Churchmouse! Sit the children down! I’ll get them some raspberry cordial.’