A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Courage, bravery, and heroism are big here. The mice of the abbey also value peace above all else. Plus, there's a one-world message as Matthias finds help from sparrows, shrews, an owl, and a cat; they couldn't have defeated the rats without all working together. A direct contrast is made between Cluny's way of leading through force and coercion and the way the creatures at the abbey band together.
Positive Role Models
Matthias the mouse starts as a small abbey apprentice and becomes a hero, making friends out of other woodland creatures in the process.
Violence & Scariness
War is waged in defense of the Abbey. The deaths are sometimes inflicted by gruesome methods: impalement, falling from great heights, stabbings, bludgeoning, bee stings, scalding, beheading, etc., and there are a few rather sad deaths of secondary characters. A scary, monstrous adder stalks characters throughout the story. Characters are kidnapped, beaten, and starved by the evil rats.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A mild flirtation.
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Many phrases that contain "hell," usually uttered by Cluny the Scourge. Plus the word "hussy" uttered once.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Many references to the partiality of some animals to the ale at the abbey and a mention of an animal being "tipsy."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is an exciting and well-told tale, but sophisticated language might deter younger or less experienced readers. Challenging vocabulary and rich, descriptive passages will help readers to improve their language skills. Though characters go to war, and there are plenty of deaths, including sad ones of secondary characters, the inherent value of a peaceful existence is promoted.
Is It Any Good?
Preteens, teens, and adults with a penchant for fantasy and legends are drawn into this magical animal kingdom where unlikely heroes face seemingly insurmountable odds. In fact, those audiences have made this series a runaway hit. Opening passages rich in poetry bring the Abbey of Redwall vividly to life. In the opening chapter an atmosphere of calm and comfort seems to pervade the rustic town. Within the very next chapter, however, the mood quickly changes, and the pace of the novel quickens as Cluny the Scourge and his army of rats march menacingly toward the Abbey. Though a war is at the center of the novel, the characters are fighting in self-defense and it is clear that their lives are at stake. As the mice and their friends struggle to defend the Abbey, they see the importance of cooperation and of respecting others.
Matthias, in his quest for the sword, must face traditional enemies of mice -- sparrows, a cat, and an owl. Only by treating these creatures with respect can he gain the aid he and his friends so desperately need. Adding to readers' enjoyment are the escapades of comical characters like the whimsical military hare or the quarrelling band of shrews, which often punctuate the suspense.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.