Brian has explained that "quean" is an old English term for a "wicked lady"; indeed the technical definition of the word is an "impudent" or "disreputable" woman, and often times was used to described a prostitute, however that is obviously not what Brian means by the word.
"Sable" is a term used by Brian to describe dark-furred characters, I think generally he uses the term to describe badgers and otters, but I don't think that means we can infer the literal "sable quean" to be either of those species.
I do think it is fair to insinuate the main antagonist will be female, and that "quean" is also a play of words on "queen".
Brian also revealed that David Elliot will be illustrating, which means he will now hold the record of amount of Redwall books illustrated: 8! Congratulations David!
Stay tuned as this story continues to develop.
Story Update 10/28/2008 4:07PM GMT
In contacting David Elliot to confirm, he actually said Brian was mistaken. He has been very busy lately with other projects, so the illustrator will be someone else! Sorry to hear that David.
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