Cluny the Scourge is an anthropomorphic rat and the primary antagonist of the first book of the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, and the first season of the series' TV adaptation. He is a dreaded warlord who seeks to take over the peaceful land of Redwall Abbey. He successfully invades the Abbey, but gets killed in a fight against the book's primary protagonist, Matthias.
Cluny the Scourge is an anthropomorphic bilge rat, who is said to be born in the southern jungles of the Redwall world, far away from Redwall Abbey. Little is known about Cluny's past, but he is implied to be a former pirate. It is said that he lost his left eye during a battle with a pike, which he killed in retaliation. The TV Show adaptation deepened his conflict with the protagonist Matthias, making him the murderer of Matthias' family. Cluny is described as a rat of exceptional size and strength, wearing a cloak made from batwings with a mole skull as its fastener, a helmet ornate with black feathers and stag-beetles' horns, and an eyepatch over his scarred eye.Cluny is a highly skilled fighter, fast, and agile, who fights by using his long and powerful tail like a whip. A whip with a poisoned spike attached to its end to make it even deadlier. He is also a very intelligent and observant master tactician, able to adapt his tactics to the turns of event and to leak information to trick his enemies.
Personality-wise, he is extremely cruel, ambitious, violent and bloodthirsty. He wants to invade Redwall Abbey to slaughter and enslave its inhabitants rather than for mere conquest, he kills his soldiers for the slightest plight, conscripts otherwise peaceful woodlanders into his horde, is prone to violent outbursts when things do not go the way he wants, and he is plagued by dreams about a mysterious warrior mouse whom he resolves to kill. He owes his nickname "the Scourge" to the way he weaponizes his tail, and more literally to the considerable threat posed by his armies.
The Scourge is well-known for being one of the most vicious villains Brian Jacques has created. He is with little doubt the most competent of all the warlords who attacked Redwall Abbey and remains the one who got the closest to taking and occupying it.
The Late Rose WarsPrior to the start of the series, Cluny the Scourge earned a frightening reputation as a warlord, leaving destruction and chaos on the wake of his horde (made of over five hundred rats). The story begins when Cluny arrives in Mossflower Woods and begins recruiting a hundred of other rats, as well as weasels, stoats, ferrets and foxes. He bases his troops at St Ninian Church and starts the conflict that would be remembered as the Late Rose Summer Wars, when trying to take over Redwall Abbey.
A young mouse named Matthias embarks on a journey to retreive the legendary sword of the fabled Martin the Warrior, hoping that it would help to defeat the dreaded rat.
During Matthias' quest, Cluny uses many tactics to invade Redwall, including a false attempt at parlaying and stealing the tapestry representing Martin the Warrior, but fortunately to no avail. He also captures the Vole Family, who were later rescued by Matthias. He tries to climb the abbey's walls with ladders and grappling hooks, then tries to use a plank as a bridge between the abbey's wall and a nearby tree. Yet, the Badger Mother Constance dislodges the plank right when Cluny is on it, causing him to fall and get injured.
Cluny forces the fox healer Sela and her son Chickenhound (who would later be known as Slagar the Cruel) to fix his wounds. Sela manages to steal his battleplans and bring them to Redwall; but it is in fact a trap devised by Cluny, who planted incomplete battleplans for her to steal (and later had her killed). Cluny wanted the Redwallers to focus on the battering ram mentioned in the plans, while his troops would dig a tunnel under the walls. Fortunatelly, they are able to destroy the ram with a hornet nest and to pour scalding water in the tunner to drive away Cluny's forces. Cluny later builds a siege tower reaching higher than the abbey's wall, but the Redwallers manage to set it on fire.
Matthias eventually returns with the sword, which he got by killing Asmodeus Poisonteeth, allied with the Guosim Union and the mighty Sparra warriors; only to find Redwall Abbey invaded and ransacked by Cluny's armies. Indeed, Cluny had a dormhouse prisoner named Plumpen open the gate for him, by threatening to kill his entire family. Armed with the legendary sword, Matthias challenges Cluny the Scourge to a one-on-one fight, but the dreaded warlord proves far too strong and experimented for him.
Against all odds, the brave young mouse manages to hold his own until their fight leads them to the Bell Tower. There, Cluny spots Friar Hugo, who was hidding from the fight, and takes him hostage to force his foe to surrender. Matthias, who had climbed the belfry, convinces the villain to release his hostage on the promise that he would come down and surrender, but he instead cuts the rope supporting the huge Joseph Bell, which falls onto Cluny and crushes him to death. Cluny's horde would later be decimated by the Redwallers and their powerful allies. This victory would make Matthias one of the greatest heroes of Redwall's history and make Cluny's nightmares about a mouse warrior somehow premonitory.