So I’ve finally gotten through Redwall, and I must say, although I complained about it before, I actually ended up quite liking it by the end. I got swept up in the battle in the last seventy pages. I even cried when a key main character (whom I won’t name – I don’t want to spoilt it for anyone who might read the book in the future!) died.
One thing I really did like in Redwall was the way that the warriors weren’t all male. In fact, on the side of the Redwall troupes, two of the most courageous and best strategists were both female – Jess the Squirrel and Constance the Badger. Even Cornflower, the timid little mouse, accidentally became a heroine when she dropped a lantern on the enemies’s siege tower. Jess and Constance were revered for their battle skills from the beginning and everyone at Redwall let them take charge, because, clearly, they were the best for the job.
Historically, of course, it is usually males who take charge of battles and lead armies, and this has been reflected in novels. I have read stories where girls courageously take part in battles, but most of the time, they are disguised as boys, as they would not be allowed to fight if they took part as girls. I don’t know if I have read a story where women have been allowed to fight and recognised as good fighters from the beginning of the battle. This was a refreshing change.
Can you think of a story that I might not have heard about, where girls or women are allowed to fight with men as equals?
Glad to hear you enjoyed the book! I just read your earlier post questioning the person-to-world scale in the book, and I think one of the commenters answered you well: the “main” animals, like mice, squirrels, and moles, are all about the size that humans are in relation to the world, and the other animals are a little bigger or smaller, depending. For instance, if the average mouse/rat/weasel is between 5′ to 5’6″, I picture the cats around 6′ and the badgers around 7′ tall. There are no humans in the world, obviously, and that cart-pulling horse has been acknowledged as an error, and is never mentioned in any of the other books.
But anyway, the book itself, yes. It’s a classic from my childhood, though I read Mossflower first and still like it better (it has a truly iconic opening scene, I think). There are tons of strong female characters and warriors throughout the series — not only does Constance make multiple appearances, but Lady Cregga is the most fearsome of the badger masters of Salamandastron, and the warrior-mouse Mariel gets a whole book to herself. Importantly, it’s not a case of “strong women = weak men,” but all are treated as individuals.
P.S. You may be interested in Rose Red Prince’s blog, as he is very near finished with reviewing every single Redwall book. He’s a good, detailed reviewer, and can put each book of the series in its proper context.
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