Outcast of Redwall: Probably the Worst in the Series
I will admit, I haven't read *every* Redwall book, just the ones up to Rakkety Tam. But I sincerely doubt any of them will top Outcast for sheer lack of quality. It has three major problems, and I'll tackle them in order:
- Lack of Focus and Messy Plotting - Probably the biggest problem with it comes from the fact that it feels like two books clumsily mashed together. On the one hand, we have the life story of Sunflash the Mace, of which his Mossflower cameo was the middle. On the other, we have the machinations of Swartt Sixclaw as he does various evil things with the nebulous goal of avenging himself on Sunflash. On the other-other hand, we have a timeskip so that his son, the titular character, can show up halfway through the book, and his abbey friends who go looking for him and oh you get the picture. Nothing gets developed enough. And, on a side note, the sheer fact that the abbey is, by the timeline, barely new when this story takes place makes it all the worse when everyone acts like they've had countless vermin fights over the years.
- Poor Quality Characterization - Unfortunately, actually learning the history of Sunflash doesn't work in his favor. He never stops feeling raw and untested all through the book, stripping away the cool mystique he had in his Mossflower cameo. Sure, he's an unstoppable One-Man Army, but he's a Redwall badger. Comes with the territory. Swartt's plans are kinda clever, but he's a pretty one-note eeevil character. And actually establishing what made Veil turn out evil was too much work, so it's just In the Blood.
- Mixed Messages - Everyone harps about this, but only because it really is that bad. In the novel that, theoretically, sets out to focus on the vermin and the question of whether they're just born evil, the answer is a resounding yes. Shoot, after Veil Takes the Javelin for his adoptive mother in a final act of selflessness, she decides he really was always evil and wouldn't have even tried to save her if he really thought he was in danger. Let's just say the question is better addressed in every other book that gives it a fair shake!