Phil Parker (tigertoy) wrote,
Phil Parker

Book review: Redwall

The last of the stack of old book reviews is Redwall by Brian Jacques.

This is apparently the first book of a series, but it's reasonably complete.

I got this book from a dealer at iFC, who told me that it was a classic of furry fiction or some such.  I certainly hope that it doesn't get recommended that way to very many people, because if this had been the first furry fiction I'd read, I doubt I would ever have read any more.  It's a children's book, which is not in itself a bad thing.  I often like straightforward plots without a lot of confusing moral ambiguity.  And while I do like sex in my stories, I don't mind reading some stories that don't have any.  But there are some books where "this is for children" becomes an excuse for "it doesn't have to be written to an adult standard", and this was one of those books.  My big problem is that I had a very hard time imagining the world, because the basics of how things looked and worked didn't seem to be consistent from one scene to the next.  A major example is the scale of things.  The hero of the story is a mouse, but there are many other sorts of animals as well.  In some scenes, I get the impression that the animals, though they talk, are supposed to be the sizes of the real animals -- but in the next scene, the hero will be interacting with other animals who should be much larger than he, but the interactions imply that they're about the same size.  The story appears to take place in abandoned human buildings, and in some scenes the animals will appear to be human sized, while in other scenes, the mice seem to be mouse sized next to human buildings.  I could have easily accepted the story whatever size the characters were, but not with them apparently changing size to be whatever was most convenient for each scene.  Something else that bothered me is that the characters' personalities and moral qualities seemed to be very much determined by their species; some kinds of animals are good people and some kinds are bad.  Being able to get away from that sort of stereotyping is one of the things that makes me like furry stories in the first place.  (And I'll confess to a specific bit of shallowness, it ticked me off that foxes were one of the "bad guys" kinds of animals.)  The final complaint that I will make is that there's an awfully high body count, including a couple of rather nasty bits of graphic violence, especially for something that's supposed to be a wholesome kid's book.  There were a few characters that were engaging, and some of the individual scenes were charming; I just couldn't stay engaged from scene to scene.

4 out of 10.
Tags: book review, brian jacques, fantasy
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