Outcast of Redwall is the eighth book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. It was published in 1995 by Philomel.
“Can a creature be born completely evil, incapable of any good? For the mice and other inhabitants of Redwall, this is the question they ask themselves of Veil, ferret son of the evil warlord Swartt Sixclaw. Abandoned as an infant and left for dead by his father, Veil is raised by the kind-hearted Bryony. Despite concerns from everyone at Redwall, Bryony is convinced that the goodness in him will prevail. But when Veil commits a crime that is unforgivable, he is banished from the abbey forever. An outcast.
When Swartt and his evil hordes of searats and vermin attack the peaceful inhabitants of Redwall, Veil is left with a difficult decision: Should he join Swartt in battle against the only creature who has ever loved him? Or should he turn his back on his true father?”
What I Liked:
If it wasn’t for the unfortunate Veil part of this book (see below), Outcast would be a pretty decent Redwall book. It’s probably the book with the most set-up and the one that is spread out over the most amount of time, because it chronicles pretty much Sunflash’s (and Swartt’s) entire lifetime. I liked the build-up because it’s so different to the usual This Happens Over One Season plots. It was interesting to essentially “grow up” with both the hero and the villain.
Sunflash is probably one of my favorite badger heroes, and Skarlath (oh, Skarlath) is definitely my favorite bird. There aren’t many bird heroes in Redwall, so Skarlath really stands out.
Hello, Bella! You serve as a way to mark where in the chronology Outcast lies! You’re awesome. Also, your reunion with Sunflash is the sweetest thing in all of Redwall.
What I Didn’t Like:
The blurb for this book is the most deceitful and thus most annoying blurb I have ever read. First of all, it talks as if Veil is the main focus of the book—he is not. Second, it implies that Swartt attacks Redwall—he does not. Finally, it doesn’t even mention Sunflash, who is the hero and whose journey is the focal point of the plot!
Why is this book named after Veil, who doesn’t even show up until halfway through the book? Veil doesn’t even really do anything important until his death! He’s basically another Irrelevant Redwall Sideplot because, really, Veil is completely irrelevant. His “development” is irrelevant, and just makes no sense. There is no prior lead-up or explanation for his sudden desire to save Bryony, so instead of being an “Aw, there is good in him!” moment, it’s more of an “Um, what? That was out of character…” moment.
Oh, Bryony. You take the prize for the most naïve (and annoying) Redwaller. At least you get better.
Recommended Age Range: 10+
Warnings: Violence/fighting, death, war
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Weighing his words carefully, [Sunflash] explained to Tirry. “Listen to what I must say, friend. If I stayed here it would mean great trouble, possibly death for those around me. I have told you of Swartt Sixclaw, the evil ferret. Make no mistake, if I make this place my home, then he will turn up here one day with his band. But even if he did not, my warrior spirit would grow restless and I would need to go and seek him out. We are sworn lifelong enemies, he and I.
“However, besides all that there are my dreams. Always I see the mountain of fire looming through my slumbers, and strange voices of other badgers, Warrior Lords whose names I do not know, call me. Why I must go to the mountain, where it is, what name it goes by, I do not know. But I am certain that my fate and destiny are bound to the mountain. Each night I dream, and the urge to travel there goes surging through home. One morning you will wake to find me gone. I am as sure of it as the turning of seasons, Tirry.”
Bella closed her eyes and leaned back. “Some creatures are always hungering after one thing or another. I have a feeling about this one, and if I am proved right in the seasons to come, I will tell you why I really called him Veil. But it is far better now to hope for the best that can happen, so we will say no more about it. You are a good mousemaid, Bryony, that is why the Abbess and I decided that you shall have Veil, to bring up and care for. He may benefit from you.”
Bryony’s eyes were shining, and she hugged the small bundle close. “Oh, Mother Abbess, is it true? I will be like his mother, no, more like his big sister, no, more like his good friend!”
The Abbess smiled at her friend the mousemaid. “Make your mind up, missie. Best be a little of all, mayhap that’s what Veil will need to grow up good. Put him back in his cradle now and take him up to the dormitory with you. Bella is too old to care for him, and I have my Abbey to look after. From this day forth he is your responsibility.”
For having the book named after him, Veil is a pretty useless character. This totally should have been called Sunflash the Mace or Sunflash and Skarlath or The Badger and the Hawk or something that actually mentions the main protagonist instead of an annoying little ferret. Still better than Salamandastron, though.
You can buy this here: Outcast of Redwall