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In his novel Redwall, Brian Jacques pits a fearful rat named Cluny, who was thought to be a myth, against a relatively small community of peaceful creatures. However, in these dire times, the creatures of the Abbey surprised Cluny with unexpected strength and will. What Cluny thought would be a swift victory ended up being a slow, gruesome defeat. The transformation of the peaceful creatures of Redwall into formidable fighters was quite amazing and inspiring to see. The qualities that they came to possess seemed to directly combat the dirty tactics deployed by Cluny, and allowed them to achieve victory.

The creatures of Redwall were quite formidable, but because the Abbey had preserved peace for so long, that formidability lay dormant for many years. The main character of the book, Matthias, has been aspiring to be like his hero Martin the Warrior, a legendary warrior mouse, since the beginning of his book. However, because of the long-lasting peace that the Abbey has preserved, Matthias was told to push that aspiration aside. Unfortunately, this was soon changed by Cluny’s sudden attack on Redwall. Luckily, Cluny completely underestimated the Redwall Abbey, and perhaps his inflated ego at the start of the conflict is what caused him to lose the war. By not immediately overwhelming the Abbey by force, precious time was bought, which allowed the defenders to set up  proper defense; the wall defending the Abbey also contributed to Cluny’s defeat. Under the lead of Matthias, the creatures of Redwall were able to mount a strong defense force that was not only trained in strength but also in will and confidence. With encouraging leaders like Basil Stag Hare, a loquacious hare, the creatures of Redwall were able to keep their spirits up even with immense danger looming in front of them. On the contrary, Cluny’s forces were driven by fear, a bond that was destroyed the instant the fear-instiller - in this case, Cluny - was vanquished.

A major reason for Cluny’s loss was the way his army, and that of Redwall, was controlled. The entire reason that Cluny’s army held together was the menacing reputation Cluny had built for himself. Using fear as a cruel form of motivation, it was soon apparent that none of the horde cared for each other; they were like zombies, controlled by the fearsome image of Cluny. The Redwall Abbey, on the other hand, was held together by friendship and trust. There was no one person who controlled them; rather, they naturally banded with each other. While Cluny had all of his soldiers chained to him, Redwall had their creatures bonded with each other. Cluny’s army lacked confidence and will, seeing as Cluny scarcely ever encouraged anyone, but by encouraging each other, the creatures of Redwall were able to edge Cluny’s army out of their beloved Abbey. While Cluny’s army began to despair, for example, after Cluny was forced to rest for three weeks after an injury, even after their tapestry of Martin was stolen and the gates of Redwall were opened, Redwall remained firm. Every person knew they were cared for and had an important role to play, and that increased their motivation and strength. This strategy was far more effective than the cruel, torturous methods of Cluny.

In conclusion, the main contributing factor to Cluny’s loss was the way his forces, and those of Redwall, were united. While Cluny’s horde was chained to him, and only him, the creatures of Redwall shared a much stronger bond with each other because they were part of a community; none of which existed with Cluny’s horde. As more and more attacks failed, Cluny’s army began to lose hope and break apart. Many high-ranking creatures in the army were killed off, and the fact that Cluny wanted to have complete control over everyone in his army didn’t make it better. Ultimately, the friendship shared between the creatures of Redwall far outweighed any power fear could invoke.


Redwall by Brian Jacques. Firebird, 2002. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!

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