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Essay: The Eras of Redwall (1986-2011)

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Articledrive This is an essay. It is not a policy or guideline, it simply reflects some opinions of its authors. Discuss this essay on the talk page or in the comments below.


After reading through the entire Redwall series I decided to split it up into chunks that I saw delineated different points in the evolution of the series.

1. Early Period (Redwall - Outcast of Redwall)

The Early Period of the Redwall series saw the birth of the series as well as many of its most classic novels and characters. Unlike most series that last twenty-plus books, the Redwall series found itself relatively early on, falling into a pattern from which future books in the series rarely deviated. This period is further divided into two smaller sub-eras. The first of these sub-eras spans from Redwall through Mattimeo. During this time, the basic good and evil species are established, along with the series’ rustic western European setting. Redwall Abbey, Mossflower Wood, and Salamandastron were all established. Brian Jacques’ writing style even then with florid descriptions of food and scenery, enormous quests, and tales of friendship, loyalty, and honor. Several concepts/animals were also taken out (horses, piglets, crabs, and Portugal) thus transporting Redwall to its own world: much like our world, only not. The second sub-era starts with Mariel of Redwall, which established the “feel” of the Redwall novels as we know it. However, the subsequent books were still characterized by rather dark experimentation. Martin the Warrior featured the death of Rose, perhaps the most famous death in the series. Outcast of Redwall was the only Redwall book which seriously questioned the black-and-white morals of the series. One can only imagine what would have happened had Veil Sixclaw survived to win the trust of all Redwallers. However, after this book, the Redwall series went on to steadily develop and expand the world which it had built.

II. Middle Period (Pearls of Lutra - Taggerung)

The Middle Period of the Redwall series primarily expanded upon the style which had been established in the early novels. This period is generally characterized by sprawling, intricate quests which take place far from home and enormous, bloody showdowns. During this time, the series explores faraway lands, like the tropical island of Sampetra to earlier times such as the days of Brocktree and Luke the Warrior. Significant development is made during this era to the vermin. They are generally more competent and more professional than the general rabble which filled the armies of the early villains, who were more renowned for cruelty than for intelligence. The era saw the deceptively calm Ublaz Mad-Eyes, the erudite Vilu Daskar, and the treacherous Marlfoxes. Jacques successfully boosted the intelligence and power of the vermin hordes, presenting greater challenges toward the protagonists, which in turn allowed for more intricate, exciting plotlines full of strategy and betrayal. In terms of chronology, the Middle Period mainly consists of the continuation of the Matthias saga through four books - three of which feature the long-living Cregga Rose Eyes. This creates a sense of consistency and development throughout this era not seen in the ensuing period.

III. Late Period (Triss - The Rogue Crew)

The Late Period of the Redwall series was the only era in the entire timeline of the books to follow a strict chronological order. There were no grand sagas featuring warrior families or close-related tales. In fact, with the exception of Triss, all the stories take place so far apart from one another that there is not a single mention of the previous book. This era also saw the recycling of several old stories. Numerous parallelisms can be drawn between High Rhulain and Pearls of Lutra, and Loamhedge is another trip back to Mattimeo, introducing another Wearet in the process. In this period, Brian Jacques focuses primarily on furthering the tropes which characterized the Redwall series. Some of the most mouth-watering descriptions of food are penned down during this time, and there seems to be a strong emphasis placed on friendship, across numerous parties of protagonists. Despite its reusing of old plotlines, this era was not without its changes. The protagonists from this era generally consisted of young woodlanders not even in their teens who were, unlike the older, more seasoned main characters of the past, were thrown into a world where they had to find the warrior inside them. The villains they faced once again had their size and brutality bumped up, as though to be even more imposing. More changes were abound toward the end of the era: The Sable Quean was the first book to feature a mole warrior and four, not three, parts, and The Rogue Crew showed a vermin ship on wheels. Unfortunately, future developments of the world of Redwall ended with Brian Jacques’ death in 2011.

Further ideas? Differing views? Discuss below!

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