The book series does not chronicle any one particular timeframe. Rather, it is set in many periods in the history of the world of Redwall, which entails Mossflower woods, surrounding islands, and a land called Southsward. Some of the books focus on characters who, in other volumes, are historical figures (e.g., Martin the Warrior's father, Luke, in The Legend of Luke). Typically, those books are set before the founding of Redwall Abbey. There is a timeline in the Redwall series, but it generally places the books in a completely different order than the order in which they were written. However, there were two phases when the novels were published in chronological order.
There have been many adaptations including the animated TV series and an opera.
The characters in the books are all anthropomorphic animals of some sort, almost all of whom are capable of speech (with a few exceptions like the horse in Redwall), which Jacques renders as various dialects of English. With a few rare exceptions, such as the monitor lizards from The Pearls of Lutra and the Jerbilrats of Loamhedge, the flora and fauna in the Redwall books are all native to Britain.
Redwall contains little practice of magic. Elements of the supernatural or paranormal appear mainly in two forms: First, the ghost of Martin the Warrior or another long-dead hero will often appear in hallucinations, dreams, or visions to one of the woodland creatures (usually, but not always, an Abbey-dweller) and impart information. The information is always accurate (though often in the form of a riddle) and is of a nature such that it must have come from the ghost of Martin the Warrior and could not be the result of a creature "solving" a mystery in its sleep and dreaming about Martin the Warrior on its own. Also, some creatures in the books are called "seers" and claim to be able to see the future. While some of these "seers" turn out to be frauds; others such as the seers of Outcast of Redwall, Loamhedge, The Taggerung and Lord Brocktree are quite real and play a key part in the turning of events in these books. Virtually all of the seers, both real and fraudulent, are vermin, who are generally considered more primitive and superstitious than woodlanders and other goodly creatures and are almost always the "bad guys." However, in the book Tribes of Redwall Mice, both Martin the Warrior and Abbess Germaine can foresee the future. Also present is the sword of Martin the Warrior, which is believed by many creatures (especially vermin, who in some instances try to steal it) to be magical. This sword was forged from the fragment of a meteorite at Salamandastron by Badger Lord Boar The Fighter in the book Mossflower.
Though the primary location is an abbey, and a church of St. Ninian's makes appearances, there has been only little mention of a creator or godlike deity. This occurs throughout the series, such as in the book, Redwall, where Basil Stag Hare comments saying, "Good Lord," once throughout the story. There is occasional reference to a 'Spirit of the Seasons', but whether this is a personal being or an abstract poetic device is not elaborated. In The Legend of Luke, a song is sung about how "St. Ninian's" is a misnomer from a sign that originally read "This ain't Ninian's!," after a mouse named Ninian refused to help his wife build a house; some of the lettering later wore off, leaving ironically the words "s ain't Ninian's," although the church is mentioned as having a lady chapel. However, there have been at least three mentions of the devil, Hell and other demons. Cluny the Scourge, after sending one of his minions to death, roars "Tell the devil Cluny sent you!" On another occasion, Constance the Badger makes a reference to "Hell's whiskers." According to the ferret Killconey, the snake Asmodeus is named for "the devil himself" (the name itself, Asmodeus, is a reference to Asmodai). There are also numerous references to "Hellsgate" throughout the series.
While these references from Redwall, the first book, were made before the series had truly realized itself, The Taggerung makes references to an underworld again when a devilish character called "Vulpuz" is mentioned by one seer as the ruler of Hellgates and the ancestor of foxes. In several of the later novels, whenever a creature dies, characters make references to "The Dark Forest" or "Hellgates" as places where creatures go after death. The Dark Forest however, has not been explained further.
Books in the series often contain one or more "monsters," but these are not mythical creatures, rather being some type of ferocious predator. Monsters have included snakes, and adders (from Redwall, Doomwyte, and Triss), large carnivorous fish such as pikes, and sharks (from Marlfox, The Bellmaker, Triss, Lord Brocktree, and Mossflower), a plesiosaur-type creature (from High Rhulain), a wolverine (from Rakkety Tam), a scorpion (from Mariel of Redwall) and a giant sea serpent (from Salamandastron and High Rhulain though mentioned very very briefly in the latter), along with an eel (from Mossflower, The Taggerung, The Long Patrol, Outcast of Redwall, and The Sable Quean), a giant lobster (Mariel of Redwall) and crabs (from Mossflower, The Legend of Luke and Lord Brocktree).
A typical book in the Redwall series details a particular period in the history of Redwall Abbey. In all but a few cases, the book is about the inhabitants of Redwall Abbey and the surrounding Mossflower Woods. Usually, there are at least two different stories going on. For example, a typical book may relate the story of a small expedition by a group of woodlanders, as well as the story of a large group of Redwallers at home fending off a vermin horde. Because of the widely spaced storylines (chronologically speaking), very few creatures are mentioned in more than one or two novels, except in a passing historical sense. One notable exception is Martin the Warrior, who appears in all books, even if, most of the time, only in spirit form or no more than as a passing historical mention. Additionally, Martin's sword is present in almost all of the novels. Though he is not mentioned by name in Lord Brocktree, Martin is referred to in Brocktree's dream as "a young mouse bearing a beautiful sword." A second exception is the badger Cregga Rose Eyes, who appears in three books: The Long Patrol, Marlfox, and Taggerung. One other exception is Bella of Brockhall, who features first in "Mossflower", second (chronologically speaking) in "Legend of Luke", and one final time in "The Outcast of Redwall".
Other recurring elements and characters in the Redwall series include Badger Lords and Badger Mothers, "Dibbuns" (the Redwall name for infant woodlanders), a Skipper of Otters, Foremoles, hares, helpful birds, one or more Log-a-logs (a shrew tribe leader), and mouth-wateringly detailed descriptions of (almost entirely vegetarian) food, which are called "vittles", a play on the word 'victuals'.
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