Terrouge E-zine Archives
Where's the Beaver?
Redwall. The book that started it all. And ended it all, figuratively speaking, for a number of devices and species that have yet to reappear in the series. For someone such as myself who didn't read "Redwall" first, it seemed almost as if I were reading a different authour. The style and content differs greatly between "Redwall" and "Mossflower", and I couldn't help but notice some omissions.
1. Beavers - What ever happened to our favourite flat-tailed friend? He was mentioned at some length in RW, but has failed to return, even in the shape of another character since then. It seemed odd. As time marched on, we grew accustomed to the lack of Beavers in the series. To talk of one almost seemed to be madness. But still, one can look back, way back, to the very beginning, when Redwall needed all the help it could get... There, my friends, was the wily Beaver. But no longer.
2. Horses - This is big. It almost set the tone of the entire first book. Pounding. Flailing. Snorting. A chaotic plunge through the forest. Savagery unbridled, borne on hooves of thunder. Cluny had come! If not for the Horse drawing his cart, how would Cluny and his horde have made it to Redwall? Come to think of it, how did his entire "horde" fit on a single cart in the first place? The Horse is gone. Never again do we see one, or even hear them mentioned (except by mistake in one of the books. In the British edition, BJ accidentally refers to a pair of Hares as a pair of Horses). They have faded from the limelight. While we're on the subject of Cluny, where did he come from? The book says he was a Portuguese Rat. Hmm, sounds a little like /human/ influence, doesn't it? Along with the Horse, the seemingly gigantic cart, and other sundry mentionings, it certainly seems as if the Redwall of the first book was set in a world which was shared with Humanity. This, of course, flatly contradicts some of BJ's statements, to the effect that the characters inhabit a world solely populated by animals. I smell a quandry.
3. Siege Tactics - With the invasion, and defeat, of Cluny the Scourge, we see the first and last instance of a standard medieval military campaign against Redwall Abbey. The use of archers, rams, towers, and rappeling hooks was all standard procedure in the sort of time period used in the Redwall series. The tactics were sound. Going for the unprotected gates, cutting off supplies, infiltrating, all this was quite acceptable. However, with the onset of the other books, stranger methods are used to gain entrance to the Abbey and other places. Flight, swinging on ropes, large ladders, hostages, and other methods were used, but no straight military siege. The field on which Cluny and his horde camped has mysteriously disappeared. Now, no general leads the attack on the goodbeasts. Now, most damage is done by vermin and such who have been graciously offered shelter by the goodhearted goodbeasts. In fact, multiple leaders have been present, with the advent of the Marlfox Clan. The Abbey was assaulted by birds, which seemed distinctly unfair. However, I was glad to see them get back to military practise with the Battle at the Ridge of the Thousand in "The Long Patrol". In short, it seems safe to assume that the tactics of both good and badbeast alike will get far more interesting as the series continues. Which brings me to:
4. The Ballista/Crossbow - Why only once? It was /so/ effective. It was /so/ cool. Why only make one once? I know, in Mossflower (with the help of Timballisto) the CORIM make siege weapons for the destruction of Kotir, but after that they are rare to nonexsistant. Rams, however, are used every so often, and that seems all right.
5. The GUOSIM - Is it just me, or do the Guosim seem a lot less Beareaucratic in the books after their introduction? I notice that the lose the "speaking stone", and seem to just lapse into a band of hearty boatbeasts. No more constant motions, adjournments, and points of order. No more contest for the stone. Just, as I said, hearty riverbeasts.
6. Squire Julian and the House - Well, I'm glad to see that Gingivere and Sandingomm's little cottage is still standing. It seems, however, to disappear after the first book. Whatever happened to Squire Julian? Or Capt. Snow? Never are they seen in Mattimeo, although it is sorely apparent that the Abbeydwellers, and the dibbuns, need any help they can get.
7. Basil Stag Hare's past - Will we ever know about the "Lancers" that Basil was a member of? How did he save Capt. Snow's life? Will we ever explore the rich martial past of the Mossflower region?
There are probably more. It does, however, seem apparent that there are major differences between "Redwall" and "The Tales of Redwall". However, this is to be expected. The first book, like with the pilot episode of a televison program, is bound to be slightly different from the rest of the series, for the writer is still fleshing out the characters, finding his/her style, etc. Be that as it may, the differences only serve to prompt even more in-depth reading on the parts of the readers so that we may catch the subtle intricasies of Mr. Jacques craft, and discover what, from his point of view, makes a good yarn.