Redwall by Brian Jacques

Redwall by Brian Jacques
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It can be really difficult to hear an audiobook when we’re driving on the highway. Even when I turn up the volume, my four-year-old pipes up every three minutes or so to tell me something of vital importance, and I have to pause the CD so that I can hear that sharks eat fish and fish eat people and people eat lobsters. Then I have to wait until his sister screams, “NO! Fish don’t eat people! People eat fish!” and he replies, “Piranhas eat people. They have big teeth and red bellies, and they eat people.” and then she says, “Oh, come ON!” and I say, “Are we done with Redwall?” and they scream, “NO!!!” Then I can start the CD again.

This all makes it challenging for me to follow any audiobook, but for some reason, I have even more trouble when it’s read by a full cast of actors than when it’s just one person doing voices. That seems counterintuitive, I know, but I think what happens is that so many people are talking that it sounds like a crowd and I end up acting like I always do in crowds: I tune out. Oh, I appear attentive, and I even hear every word, but none of it registers. It’s all background noise when more than two people are talking.

About six chapters in I managed to train myself to pay attention, though, and then I started getting into the story.

It’s a fairly complicated and violent story, especially for kids. Asmodeus asking people to gaze into his “twin pools of eternity” was especially intense, I thought. My kids don’t seem to be bothered by it, though. My son just goes around hissing, “Asmodeussss!” all day, which I’m not sure he’s doing for the purpose of freaking me out, but that’s what it does. I’ve watched way too many horror films about demonic children and possessed dolls to not be weirded out by my little boy in overalls hissing “Asmodeussss!” like the snake in the book.

But that’s not to say I didn’t like the story. I enjoyed Matthias’s quest, and I loved Constance the Badger. For a while I thought she must be voiced by the actress who plays Osha on The Game of Thrones tv series, but on track 13 of disk 9 there are voice credits and Constance is Liz Crampton, not Natalia Tena.

The diet of the creatures in Redwall Abbey was largely unrealistic, which kind of bothered me. And I was annoyed at Cornflower’s “let’s make cookies for the boys” attitude, but what’s wrong with a character who supports the war effort by making stew? I mean, that’s kind of what I do except the “war effort” is keeping things under control at home while my spouse earns the family income and “making stew” is serving us all hot dogs and popcorn for dinner because homeschooling took too long again to make a proper meal. But really, what’s wrong with being a Cornflower?

Anyway, decent book, which I enjoyed once I got used to the full-cast thing and didn’t worry about the non-vegetarian diet of herbivorous animals. Now I get to ignore the first dozen chapters of Mossflower during our next several days ferrying my kids around lower New England.

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11 Replies to “Redwall by Brian Jacques”

  1. I’ve only ever listened to one audio book. My parents bought it for me while I was driving to school once, a 6 hour drive. I popped it into my CD player – it was some sci-fi book I guess. And I started really getting into it, and it wasn’t until 2 hours later that I realized I was lost. Not in the story… like I was lost on where I was driving to. So ever since then, I’ve never listened to them. Who knows where I would end up.


    1. I don’t listen to audiobooks for myself while I’m driving. I find the kids’ books easy enough to ignore when it’s necessary. Also, now that we have GPS, I just rely on that friendly voice to keep me on the right path. The only other challenge is not nodding off to the drone of the reader’s voice.


  2. I remember reading Redwall as a child. It was one of my favorite books, though I stopped reading the series itself 5 or 6 books in.
    I don’t think I thought it particularly violent; I just loved the epic quest! And the food sounded so absolutely delicious. šŸ™‚


    1. The quest was pretty cool. My daughter just finished reading Mossflower (she reads faster than we listen to the audiobooks), and right now, at least, it seems like she’s in this series for the long haul. I’m not ready to commit to 20+ books in any series.


    1. It’s taken some training, both of my kids and of myself. A couple of cross-country drives have helped. You get in the middle of Wyoming or the panhandle of Florida, and there’s not much else to focus on but the audiobook for hours and hours at a time.


  3. Your first paragraph reminded me of what it’s like to teach sometimes. šŸ™‚


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