I have owned this book for 12 or 13 years, I promised a friend when I was 14 that I would read it and just never did. After deciding to embark on this youth reads thing, I figured I should probably finally read the damn book and get it over with.
For the sort of book this is, I suppose it wasn’t bad. The biggest flaw I found was that I just didn’t feel pulled into the book, not really engaged. Perhaps it’s unfair, but I keep wanting to compare books to my experience with The Golden Compass, which I absolutely loved and felt enchanted by. This book fell flat as far as that was concerned.
I also felt like it was a little predictable, at least from an adult reading perspective. Of course the evil rat Cluny can’t be victorious until the end…otherwise, why would the book be so long? Each time the mice thwarted the rats plans, I felt like I could see it coming from a mile away.
The characters also felt a little shallow to me. Matthias’ transformation from this meek stumbling fool to the Warrior of Redwall was sudden and abrupt for me. It was one of the things I thought was going to happen from the moment the evil was introduced, but it still didn’t seem believable. One moment he’s falling over his shoes, the next he’s wielding a dagger. I also felt like his repeated journeys away from Redwall Abbey were kind of selfish – he knows the Abbey is under seige, yet he continues to leave it unattended and come back to his friends in danger. And leaving everyone to worry about him? That’s just rude!
Also, I’m confused as to how exactly this whole world is supposed to work…is this supposed to be in a somewhat real life situation where there are perhaps humans around? Wouldn’t humans find it bizarre to have a little castle in the middle of some field? I would expect that some child would stumble upon it and I dunno, torture the mice and demolish the structure. Plus, people would so notice a huge band of rats milling about the countryside in armor! I guess it just didn’t make much sense to me that they weren’t larger and just totally in a fantasy world. Or maybe everything was just larger. Still, there had to be people in some fashion, cuz who built the roads and the barn? Then at the same time, we got the impression that the Abbey walls were wicked tall, like the rats and stuff had to climb trees to get over them, so that would indicate more life sized buildings and animals.
I know this all sounds pretty negative, but for what it’s worth, I didn’t hate the book. I think if I had actually read it back when I first received it, I would have liked it and probably would have continued on with the series. I had hoped even now it would motivate me to read the following books, but unfortunately that isn’t happening. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t good enough for me to feel like it’s worth the time to get the rest and read them.
It’ll be an entertaining read for a young teenager or a tween, and even for an adult it’s good “distracted” reading – the kind you can do in a waiting room or on the bus.