On February 5, 2011, the literary world lost one of its greatest young adult authors. Brian Jacques was best known for his Redwall series, a series set against the backdrop of Redwall Abbey. Reminiscent of the medieval English past, the series is a classic example of the good versus evil theme. Rather than good men fighting bad men, however, Jacques used animals to explore this theme.
I remember the first time I ever encountered the Redwall series. It was in 7th grade in my literature class. Being the avid reader I was at that age (and still am thankfully!), I was always on the lookout for new books to read. A fellow classmate was doing a book report on Marlfox, one of Jacques’ many books set at Redwall Abbey. I was curious about this book, and so I chose to begin to read the series. I had to start at the beginning since I did not care to get lost along the way. A long relationship developed, and he quickly became one of my favorite authors. Even now, I always would pre-order the newest Redwall book on Amazon to ensure I received it as soon as it came out. Thus, when I found out one of my childhood authors had died, I felt as if a small part of me went with him.
Reading the books back now, I see the resemblance to medieval history in the way Redwall Abbey is set up. Mice, squirrels, voles, moles, otters, badgers, hares, and hedgehogs make up the “good guys”, and many of these live with the serene atmosphere created by the Abbey. There are monk- and nun-like creatures that make up the brothers and sisters of the Abbey that seek to aid all who come to the Abbey gates. Redwall also represents a conduit for education as well as a place in which travelers exchanged ideas and told the Abbey-dwellers of news from the outside world. The “bad guys”, consisting of stoats, rats, ferrets, ravens, sables, and other such creatures, constantly try to attack the Abbey or their allies. Fortunately for readers, good always triumphs over evil. But when a certain character dies, it always seems we mourn with the characters in the book. To a point, they become part of us. Not to mention the food and the descriptions of banquets…
But I digress. In short, the literary world lost one of its greatest treasures. Brian Jacques’ novels, whether the Redwall series, the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series, or his other children’s books, cross all generations and appeal to young and old alike. For me, I have made it my goal to collect every book he’s written in hardcover. I can honor his memory by continuing to read and to share the books from which he became known and loved.
Some Redwall/Brian Jacques sources: