The pace at which REDWALL begins is astonishing. Immediately, the characters are thrown into conflict and by the second chapter, Cluny the Scourge, who is easily one of the scariest bad guys I've encountered in a children's book (save Voldemort), enters, leading his rat troops as a cruel, merciless tyrant. Jacques somehow balances the sweet honesty of Redwall Abbey with the brutality of Cluny's horde, and introduces characters complex enough to keep me (and children, and parents) rapt for the whole of the book.
I loved REDWALL, and the world Jacques presents is brilliant: as simple and as complicated (as purely good and purely evil) as our own. I have the next two books ready and waiting on my shelf, and I'm excited to dive right back into Redwall.