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I dug up a copy of Salamandastron and noticed something about the cover:

The cover of the U.S. PB edition of "Salamandastron". At the top is "THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER", one line down is "In the Tradition of 'Watership Down'", one line down is "BRIAN JACQUES", then some animal illustrations, then at the bottom is "SALAMANDASTRON" with "A Novel of Redwall" below.

On the U.S. PB cover is:

In the Tradition of Watership Down

I know the definition of "in the tradition of"

having characteristics similar to a particular person or thing

Now, I've dug through every single cover of every single Redwall book*. I'm 99% percent sure that this line doesn't show up on any over cover in this series. I'm also 99% sure that this is the only reference to a non-Redwall book on a Redwall cover; the only other references I saw on covers are to other Redwall books.

Given that, I assume that "In the Tradition of Watership Down" is meant to specifically be for Salamandastron. I'm just not sure how. It can't just be the talking animals (though that's definitely a part of it), because that would apply to every single Redwall book. Another curious part of this cover is it's on a US edition; I'd expect UK readers to know more about Watership Down than us ignorant Americans.

So, how can Salamandastron be considered "In the Tradition of Watership Down"? What elements of plot/setting/characters combine to make the works similar?

* Every single cover that's on the Redwall wiki, which is in general the US and UK covers only, and often just the front cover.

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  • Does the book have talking rabbits? – Michael Harvey Mar 22 at 15:15
  • Well, yes. Talking rabbits (though they call themselves hares), badgers, mice, ferrets, otters, shrews, etc. That's what I meant by "talking animals". – bobble Mar 22 at 15:32
  • Well, there you go. Talking animals. Long ears. Watership Down. – Michael Harvey Mar 22 at 17:25
  • I addressed that in my question. I was asking about why this would be just on the Salamandastron cover (though I'm open to frame challenges). Please refer to the two longer paragraphs. – bobble Mar 22 at 17:28
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    @bobble Rabbits and hares are jolly different creatures! They aren't rabbits who call themselves hares. You're suffering from a bally lagomorphic misidentification, wot, wot. – Rand al'Thor Mar 22 at 20:01
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Sometimes odd lines like that on covers are quotes, even if they aren't attributed. A possible source for this would be the brief review paragraph, by Tynan Laurie, for the 8 cassette recorded book, which appeared in a 1988 edition of Journal called 'Emergency Librarian'. I've not been able to find out much about the journal, but it later became called 'Teacher Librarian' so I'm guessing it was an educational sector publication, as the review notes that the price of the 10 cassette recording will put it out of the reach of many school and public libraries.

Anyway that review contained the line:

In the tradition of Watership Down and The Hobbit, Redwall is an anthropomorphic story in a which a community of mild-mannered animals pull together to defend themselves from the onslaught of a marauding army of vicious animals.

This doesn't address why it might be attributed to Salamandastron over other books in the series, but I think it may be possible to read too much into vagaries of book cover design.

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  • "In the tradition of Watership Down and The Hobbit" - boy, that sounds awful! – Michael Harvey Mar 22 at 17:27

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