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One Lucky Unicorn

Does anyone here recall a Redwall fan site that actually had a listing of the canon character names with their meanings/or significance? I've Googled it, but can't seem to find it anywhere. If anyone has a copy of that list saved or knows where the page is located, then let me know, because I'd very much like to see it, since I'm trying to get some inspiration for the names of the characters in my story ideas (especially the darn shrews!).

Secondly, how do you guys handle the whole character size issue? Because to be honest, even though Jacques says that the characters are whatever size you want them to be, in the books the characters' sizes make no sense. For example, Russano wields Russa's stick, but badgers are described as being massive beasts, so... wouldn't said stick be just a twig in his hands? I've thought about making Redwall-verse creatures several times larger then the animal they're based on. Also, how anthromorphic does everyone think they are? Just walking talking animals, or do you give them human-like bodies as well?

3/8/2010 . Edited 3/8/2010 #1

I haven't seen any nicely laid out lists of name and origins/meanings, though the Redwall Wiki has some speculative answers on some of the more important characters.

The size topic had a thread a while back, here:

Usually saying anything akin to "whatever ______ you want them to be" is a nice way of saying that searching for consistency is a lost cause. Personally I usually think of them as walking, talking animals within a somewhat human size range (3 ft to 8 ft; 35 lb to 400 lb). I usually get thrown by the environmental/set piece sizes, the size of rooms in Redwall, tree size and the sort.

3/10/2010 #2

I don't think such a list exists, as a LOT of BJ's names are made up. I know what you mean by getting shrew names. I would recommend going to the Redwall Wiki and looking up shrews in general. There's a lovely list there of a bunch of shrews in the series, listed alphabetically by name. There's no name meanings (Not that I've seen), but gives one an idea of what names are shrewish and what are not.

For myself, when it comes to names, I like to find lists of names from different cultures, mythologies, countries, etc. From there, I set them apart by the group of characters getting such names. The characters in my story, Memento Mori, were grouped that way during their naming. Diarmuid's name is Irish, emphasizing his origin from the north. The two wildcat rulers, Njord and Skuld were named from the Norse culture. Skadi and Leto were named based the name meanings. Romani was named for the Romani people, real-life gypsies, emphasizing her nomadic status. Log-a-Log Silas, Ari, Lorelei were named because I just wanted to name a character that. Pendigan was a corruption of my own making off of Pendragon since I've been sucked into BBC's Merlin series of late. My own little way of fangirling you could say.

When it comes to naming, go with it, really. There are a lot of names out there if you just do random Google searches. Some can just pop into your head. I would say mull the character around in your head while you're looking. After all, Skadi just wouldn't have pulled a good Amanda, haha.

As for size...yeesh, that's as old as the 'How do you measure their age' argument. I personally have always given them human sizes, and made the world to human scale as well. Of course, badgers and wildcats are bigger than mice. Different groups of people also have their own height ranges; I give my own to the animals. If mice are Hobbit size, let's say, then otters would be human sized and squirrels between the two. Badger and wildcat would either be Nephilim size, or pretty close to it. It all depends on how you see the world. There is no right or wrong answer there.

3/10/2010 #3
One Lucky Unicorn

Thanks for the responses, guys.

@Avelblue: I'll look through that thread and at the Redwall wiki again. My thoughts on size are pretty similar to your's.

@Tarshearma: I don't think it does anymore, but I definitely remember seeing something like a list. But yeah, a lot of the names in the later books do appear to be 'nonsense' names, as it were, but seems like the older characters' names had some sort of meanings behind them. For example, Asmodeus was another name for Satan, and Gnoff is Yiddish for thief. I admit that I love character names with some sort of significance behind them. I have noticed that each species has their own particular naming trends

When it comes to naming, go with it, really. There are a lot of names out there if you just do random Google searches. Some can just pop into your head. I would say mull the character around in your head while you're looking.

Thanks, I'll do that. I do have a couple of pet and baby name sites in my Favorites, so I'll look at those. BTW, I like your characters' names!

I never really give the age issue much thought. I just assumed that they aged somewhat like pple, since they certainly don't age like normal animals. Interesting thought on character sizes. I'm not sure what a Nephilim is though (isn't it a fallen angel or giant)?

3/10/2010 #4

More or less, really. There's in no concrete record of how tall Nephilim were, so I suppose giant would have been a better word to use (For some reason I tend to think of the harder word to spell, yeesh.) From what I know, skeletons of humans have been found in a variety of sizes, some hobbit size and some 9 feet or taller. Regardless, I would personally have the badgers, cats, and other such creatures in the 'giant' category, only it would seem rather normal for Redwall world.

The tallest character I have thus far would be Njord, and I'd put him at the 9-ish mark.

You never read one of those 'Aging' forum threads? Oh, by golly, that was a good read a long while back. About as good as the 'Pepsi vs Coke' threads, just with a bit more logic (Or lack of).

3/10/2010 #5

I've always imagined their world kinda downsized. At least I think I did. I just always roll with the descriptions, which means they could be real sized, downsized, or upsozed in my mind.. Also, I've always thought of them aging in seasons, just longer that they live longer than normal animals. also, i thought that they all lived the same amount of time.

a thing about names: Methuselah, we all love him, was named after a person in genesis. he had lived 996 years. hence, why methuselah lived so long. matthias was the apostle who replaced judas.

also, he kinda mixed words for vermin. Threeclaws, Killconey (coney is an old term for rabbit), Redtooth, etc. however, you don't necessarily have to abide all his rules for the world. just use the basics and what you've enterpreted an go from there would be my advice, really.

3/10/2010 #6
One Lucky Unicorn

@Tarshearma: LOL. Yeah, having the badgers and such being the biggest critters makes sense. I thought about making the animals human-sized, since that would better explain how big beasts like hares and badgers can wield weapons meant for squirrels and mice, but then someone else in that thread I was linked to bought up the fact that some characters live in trees. Oh goodness. _ Maybe I'll make the trees giant and the animals larger then normal but not as big as humans... or something.

9-ft tall skeletons have been found? Really? Interesting. The only instance of a giant skeleton I've heard of happened to be a hoax that occurred in the 19th century, I believe. I am intrigued now... Don't mind my off-topic-ness, I'm interested in stuff like that.

Also, I've alwaysYou never read one of those 'Aging' forum threads? Oh, by golly, that was a good read a long while back. About as good as the 'Pepsi vs Coke' threads, just with a bit more logic (Or lack of).

Having just looked at the size thread, I'm rather frightened to now. :O

@Livvy: I thought of them aging in seasons, just longer that they live longer than normal animals. Also, I thought that they all lived the same amount of time.

I'm guessing that a season per the Redwall-verse is supposed to be exactly just that (autumn, spring, etc.)? Sorry, I no longer have any of the books. And from what I recall and according to the Redwall wiki, badgers usually lived longer then other species did.

Yeah, I remember reading that about Matthias and Methuselah (BTW, anyone else think Jacques has a penchant for names beginning with 'M'?).

however, you don't necessarily have to abide all his rules for the world. just use the basics and what you've enterpreted an go from there would be my advice, really.

Thanks. I rather like that. :)

3/12/2010 #7

Another thing you could try with names is to assign some sort of cultural parallel between a given group and history. Like, the shrews could be gypsies (and I think they are based somewhat on those...maybe Russian gypsies, i dunno) or something so you could go seek out a list of gypsy names.

3/17/2010 #8
Evelyn Brightpaw

A great way to go with naming characters, if you're trying to match Brian's style, is to think culturally; Brian takes much of his inspiration from Britain itself. Many of his character names are Latinized Church names or Bible names, hailing back to Britain's early Catholic and Anglican Church traditions (i.e. Saxtus, Matthias, Methuselah, Martin, Cluny). Many others come from Medieval / Old English (for example, Gonff). A good rule for heroines is to go with flower / nature names (Rose, Columbine, Cornflower, Posy). As someone else said in an earlier reply, making names for villains out of physical characteristics is always a smart move (Swartt Sixclaw, Threeclaws, Blacktooth, etc.) Hares often have names inspired by the British aristocracy (Basil, Tarquin, Beauregard, Clary). Moles are based on rural English village culture, in speech and names. As for your shrew problem, I agree, they're problematic little characters. The thing to remember is that they often have names that sound similar to their speech pattern - low, short, growling and gutteral (Gurn, Flugg, Log-a-Log). Just hear them talk in your head and go on that.

Something I always do, if I want to make a name up, is to use other languages and tweak the words. For example, the villain in my fic is a fox named Sorno, who was burned badly as a pup and thus has scars, patchy fur, and a mangled face (inspired by the Joker in the Dark Knight, I will admit). I chose "Sorno" because it's the Spanish word for "irony" - referring to his smile-shaped scars - but also because it's phonetically similar to the word "sarno," which means "mangy" - referring to his patchy fur. Also, don't be afraid to take a name you like from something else and change the spelling; my heroine's name is Taryn, which was partially inspired by Taran Wanderer (Lloyd Alexander) and given an Old English spelling. On top of that, listen for names of real people you know that strike your fancy, or that mean something to you; I named my character Wyatt after a friend of mine who was killed in a car crash years ago.

On the subject of name meanings, I do have one thing to add - I don't know if this was Brian's thought process or not, but I've always thought that Martin might have been named after St. Martin of Tours, a patron saint of soldiers who was also known for his charity - the most famous story is of him cutting his cloak in half and giving half to a beggar.

5/12/2010 #9

Basil, Rosemary, and Thyme are also herbs. So that's a good source for Hares. I've always wanted to name a Hare, Verbane and call her "Vermin Bane".

Tree names are good for squirrels: Aspen, Oak, Willow, etc. I always tend to give my squirrels Hebrew names for some reason, not sure why, Tamar, Eilat, and Hadassa must have just sounded good at the time.

oh and speaking of St Martin. It's interesting to note that the tradition says St Ninian went to see St Martin at Tours before he set up his own mission in southern Scotland.

8/18/2010 #10
Sandra the Sabre

Brian Jacques actually didn't name his characters after Bible characters or anything like that. He either picks a name from someone he has known, or makes anagrams of their names, or makes names up just so you know...

9/13/2010 #11

You sure about that? Asmodeus is out of the Old Testament as a King of Demons and Methuselah is the oldest man with a listed age in the Hebrew Bible. He may have gone away from using biblical names, but he didn't stray from it early in the series.

9/26/2010 #12
Sandra the Sabre

Yes, I'm positive! :) I read a conversation between Mr. Jacques and someone else, (I don't remember who...) and he was asked wether he named characters in his books after Biblical characters and he stated that no that he didn't he just picked those names because he felt that they were strong good names for his characters. :D

9/28/2010 . Edited 9/28/2010 #13
Zalden the Maniac

oh Livvy the name Killconey probably means "kill rabbit" idk just a guess

10/4/2011 #14

I got that. I think I was making a point about how the names seemed to be mixed words. *shrugs* I'm not sure I really get your point. Or maybe I do, and I think it might be more than that. I make things more complicated than they have to be sometimes. :/

10/5/2011 #15
Zalden the Maniac

not really :| but ya. what else.

10/6/2011 #16
Evelyn Brightpaw
I would put money on the notion that Killconey was meant to be Irish; if you pay attention to his speech pattern and pronunciation ("me ould mother," etc.), it is clearly Upper British Isles, of Gaelic influence, and most likely, an Irish accent. That makes his name make more sense. Killconey is likely a reworking of the name "Kilkenny," which is a county and city in Ireland. In old Irish Gaelic, the word "cill" (pronounced with a hard "c," which is why we Anglicized it as "k") means a church or monastery. Thus, Kilkenny means "church of/at Chainnigh," and on a comedic note, that means you can wonder if Killconey means "church of the rabbit." Which kind of sounds like a cult. =P Not sure if Brian thought about it that deeply, but I'd almost guarantee you he meant Killconey to be Irish.
10/28/2011 #17
Zalden the Maniac

I agree with you on that.

but it could still mean "Kill Rabbit"....+

11/11/2011 . Edited 11/11/2011 #18
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