Matthias wishes to be more strong and courageous like how the legends speak of Martin, the warrior mouse who gave the mice of Redwall Abbey their true vocation, but peaceful times do not require such martial skills. Home to a peace-loving order of mice (and one faithful badger), Redwall falls under siege from Cluny the Scourge and his band of bloodthirsty rats, weasels, foxes and the like. With the situation so dire, and the attackers so ruthless, the Abbey is a dangerous place to be, but Matthias discovers what seems to be his destiny - a destiny seemingly linked with Martin himself! But he has a long way to go before that destiny is realized.
While the Abbey's defenses are challenged from both inside and outside the walls, Matthias starts his search for the military items that Martin used during his campaigns. Journeying both far from the Abbey as well as in its deepest recesses, Matthias encounters friends of the mice, enemies of Cluny, and other hazards that Matthias might be able to turn against the foe, but he must survive them first. Deeds of treachery and of valor cover the pages of this, the first book in the Redwall epic.
Veteran illustrator Bret Blevins adds a visual dimension to Jacques' story, filling each panel with idyllic landscapes, uncluttered but chaotic war scenes, and faithful representations of both the major and minor players in the drama. The characters and scenes, drawn vividly in black-and-white and utilizing pencil shading, are reminiscent of Grahame's or Potter's universes of anthropomorphized animals, although the story matter is for a decidedly older audience. Recommended for ages 9 and up.