The Redwall books are children stories written by Brian Jacques, which were a collection of adventures set around a medieval world where mice, rabbits, moles, hedgehogs, badgers, certain species of birds, squirrels and otters lived, worked, and played within an imaginary monastery called RedWall Abby. These list of animals were most notably the protagonistic creatures that were on the side of Lawful/Neutral Good. The heroes, adventurers, protectors, and guardians of innocence. And on the side of Chaotic/Lawful/Neutral Evil were the “vermin” aptly named so: Rats, Ferrets, Weasels, Mink, Foxes; animals that were known to be predators and scavengers as the antagonistic creatures.
My only gripe was that they portrayed foxes as the evil side, but maybe it’s just because they were my favorite animal. So naturally I had a tendency to have some of my favorite characters be both foxes and villains. The major themes that are explored in each book are as follows: Bravery, Courage, Fighting against Injustice, Standing up for what you believe in, and the importance of working together and helping your friends out. Very positive themes for young children to read in these stories. But what some may not tell you is in the attempts to punish the villain’s wrong-doing may have them met their maker in the most darkest ways possible. What you may not know is that some of these death scenes can be kinda graphic-not graphic in a “giallo” sort of way, but if you actually imagine these deaths occurring to the characters it might make you flinch a little bit, and to a book geared towards children mind you.
So, here we are to honor the darker aspects of my favorite book series, with the top five gruesome death scenes.
Number Five: Mattimeo
Cause of Death: Falling into a well thereby either dying a slow and agonizing death or being buried alive.
At the end of the book Mattimeo, after Matthias along with his friends, allies, and the escaped child slaves leave Malkaris, a vengeful and angry Slagar The Cruel emerges from a hole (which looks to be a well embedded into the ground) and after doing the standard “I am gonna fuck everything up” villain speech, he takes a huge rock and is about to crush their mousey little heads in when the weight of the rock causes him to teeter backwards down into the well shaft.
Now, imagine for that brief moment, you were one of those creatures peering down into the well. It’s probably about a good twenty to thirty feet deep fall you got there. So you would be falling endlessly, or if there was a bottom, the fall alone would either kill you or break a lot of bones in your body. So, if you did end up alive, you would have a broken leg, or arm and be unable to climb back out. Also, take in mind that he was holding a huge heavy boulder, and when he fell he was still gripping onto the thing meaning that it was more likely he had crushed himself to death with that boulder when it feel on top of him, contributing more to the first idea of broken bones or a smashed in head. Even worse, he was would have been laying injured in there (and by leap of logic he did end up surviving the fall) and unless any one of those “sweet and innocent” little animals offered to help him out of there or throw a rope. He would be down there slowly starving to death in his own tomb.
Yeah, they don’t mention that in the sweet and happy TV series on PBS don’t they?
Number Four: The Pearls of Lutra
Cause of Death: Possible Defenestration/Debatable Suicide
Yikes! Now I am sure that it can be said that the medieval times that the writer was trying to emulate within his storybook world was not all fairy-tales and butterflies. People were murdered and tortured in horrifying ways back in those days. But I think what takes the cake in the implication of someone taking their own life in a Redwall book series.
The story’s main villain is a mink named Ublaz Mad-Eyes, who apparently has the ability to hypnotize his victims. One of his captains, a stoat named Conva, is sent to retrieve six rose-pink pearls that were taken within Mossflower woods by a weasel named Graylunk, who does not get very far and dies before he could sell them for weed or something. Graylunk took refuge in Redwall Abby apparently and unable to retrieve the pearls, Conva returns to the Isle of Sampetra empty-handed.
This does not make Ublaz a happy baddie.
Ublaz interrogate Conva and when it revealed that he had failed Ublaz, the pine martin asks him to stare into his eyes and the next scene shows the stoat taking a flying leap out of a window.
Now, that is what I call intense, whether you or not you think Ublaz Mad-Eyes did have the power to control people (er cute little woodland creatures) with his eyes, you have to admit throwing someone out of a window is as brutal as it can get. And we’ve only scratched the surface here. If you will recall, the location of Ublaz’s master palace, he has his castle alongside a dock and seaside. Well, that is not a problem I mean, whether he committed suicide or was willed into leaping out of that window, there was water underneath, it wasn’t like Slagar, where you hard sharp ground to
Still, the most disturbing aspect is whether or not this was defenestration or suicide. Lets look at the dictionary term for “Defenestration” shall we?
de·fen·es·tra·tion [dee-fen-uh-strey-shuhn] Show IPA
the act of throwing a thing or especially a person out of a window: the defenestration of the commissioners at Prague.
1610–20; de- + Latin fenestr ( a ) window + -ation
If Ublaz didn’t physically throw Conva out of the window to the sharp rocks below. Then its possible that he could have put the idea into Conva’s head to take his own life. And seriously, how disturbing is that I ask you?
Number Three: The Bellmaker
Victim: Urgan Nagru
Cause of Death: Bludgeon to the head by dull fangs
If you’ve stomach it this far, you probably see a pattern with many of these gory death scenes. The victims are all villains. Particularly the main villains. In what can be described as a sense of justice to many of their dirty-dealings and evilness, I put this one on the list since it is kinda an instant death, but still very horrible way to die. In The Bellmaker, one of the main bosses is named Urgan-Nagru, and is considered a “fox-wolf” (not that he is the result of a vixen and a wolf getting it on) but named for the armor he wears the shed fur of a dead wolf. Considering that almost all of the animals in the Redwall series are in a way sentient athro-characters with humanistic lives and emotions. There is no way to tell for sure that this wolf that is being worn by this fox was once a living breathing wolf with thoughts, feelings, family, emotions, and was mercilessly skinned alive, or that it was already dead. With all these instances attached and Urgan-Nagru pretty much went Ed Gein on this poor creature. It’s hard to say at this point.
This takes place during the battle for Castle Floret. One of the shrews dies from a knife in the back by gran’s wife Silvamord, (thought to be honest is was his own fault-finding her and then letting his guard down by turning his back to her without checking to see if she had a weapon or not-after all, what was the worst that could have happened?) The Badger Finnbarr Galedeep during an intense battle with Urgan-Nagru uses his mighty strength to rain pain down and slam the top of the wolf’s skull into the fox’s head, technically causing the fangs and sharp teeth of the head ornament to pierce through the skull of Urgan’s own head and thereby piercing the brain killing him instantly.
Number Three: Redwall
Victim: Sela The Fox-Healer
Cause of Death:Being stabbed repeatedly and left to die in a ditch.
Sela is a fox healer and the mother of Chickenhound, which you may remember from Number five on the list. Her story is pretty sad but also a cautionary tale of greed and the outcome of backstabbing people.
While being a part-time healer, Sela also spied for both sides of the battle. She stole plans while healing Cluny The Scourge to give to The Abby, but then turned around and told what their plans of attack were to Cluny’s soldiers. She basically didn’t care whose side she was on as long as she got what she wanted out of it. But unfortunately, the vulpine-gypsy luck was going to run out. Actually, what makes this death so interesting was that there were two versions in the book and in the TV series.
In the TV series: Sela was thrown out of the Abby after she was caught stealing by an old mouse named Methuselah (her son saved face by clocking him over the head with a long calandra) as punishment for her crimes she was thrown to Cluny and in an interesting concept to get around the brutal violence and bloodshed the book had been killed off-screen by a sword. Judging by the sound effects, I would wager a decapitation.
In the book however, Sela was caught eavesdropping by Cluny and his soldiers, and therefore her and her son were executed by being stabbed by spears repeatedly in a ditch and left for dead. Now, when people mention that “someone was left to die” it’s usually an icing on the cake for how far a death scene gets to be dark and gruesome. If we read the chapter where it happens, and imagine that a million spear heads stabbed into Sela’s body, its safe to say they may have missed some vital organs that would instantly kill her, therefore, having her bleeding slowly in a ditch or she would be dead and left to be feasted upon by crows would mess up any kid who happen to see that and would probably turn to a life of crime and child slavery as a result.
Chickenhound’s is not much better, he was found hours later alive and still surviving his stab wounds. He just pretended to be dead so he could escape. Imagine if they actually buried those two six feet under. Set your goosebumps on chill folks.
Number Two: Mossflower
Victim: Tsarmina Greeneyes
Cause of Death Drowning
Now you maybe asking yourself, “Chris, you crazy bitch, drowning maybe a horrible way to die but it’s not gory or graphic as the other lists which you mentioned” True, but in the book, Tsarmina had terrifying nightmares of dying in water. Almost to the point that it was driving her a bit mad. Imagine being plagued with hours after hours of dying in a watery grave unable to swim or sink under reaching the surface and call for help?
Coupled by the fact that in her fear, she drives right into the water willingly at the end of the book to get away from Martin The Warrior. It is actually a very terrifying ending to a villainess, having nightmares about the worst possible way you can die being one thing, but then when that moment comes that you are about to commit the same act of death that has terrified you and you may not even realize it yet. That is enough to make you shiver.
Just imagine how Tsarmina must have suddenly snapped out of it only to discover that she was drowning to death in her own watery grave.
Number One Redwall
Victim(s): Half of Cluny’s army
Cause of Death Being burned alive by hot boiling water while being buried under a pile of panicking comrades
Yeah, it pretty much says it all you need to hear right there. During one of the many invasion scenes in Redwall, Cluny’s forces planned on entering through the Abby through a series of tunnels they dug themselves, however, they are stopped when Constance Badger, the Abbess of the monastery along with Basil Staghare pour a huge cauldron of boiling water into the tunnel scalding the rats. The ones watching some of their comrades being boiled alive would no doubt panic and run the other way only to find that a huge boulder would be placed in their way trapping them in. And if you have read or seen groups of people in an enclosed space scrambling to escape in these said enclosed areas you can see how gruesome that can be. Now have those same people equip with weapons, sharp teeth, claws and a bloodthirsty disposition and you have yourself a genuine mass death scene right there. All for little children to read about.
And innocent little teddy bears…
Makes it no wonder that Cluny the Scourge has a mind-damaging nightmare of it as a result. Seeing that would make any vicious warlord break down and cry like a baby.
And there you have it. Don’t let it stop you from reading the books, in fact, think of them as a reflection of the atrocities of medieval battle brought to life by cute furry woodland creatures. It sort of gave the books a bit of a darker, edgier “young adult” feel, and didn’t make you think you were reading a cutesy animal book.