I was sad to hear earlier this week about the passing of children’s author Brian Jacques, at the age of 71. He was most famous for his Redwall fantasy series, which largely involved a bunch of anthropomorphic animals living in a huge old Abbey, and the many adventures which took them all over Mossflower wood, to the faraway coast of Salamandastron, and into the heart of battle with the many ‘baddies’ of the woods. With the first being published in 1986, Jacques wrote 21 of these books, which were in turn made into a TV series (never shown in Australia – boo!), an opera and graphic novels, and sold millions and millions of copies all over the world.
I first discovered the Redwall series in my first year of high school, courtesy of the school library. I read them well into my High School years, and probably could have read them all the way through Primary School as well, if I’d known they existed back then. They were full of high adventure and wacky characters, and all the sights and sounds of the Abbey and the surrounding woods were like familiar friends every time you opened up a new book. I absolutely adored these books, and as a young teen they brought the excitement of fantasy story-telling back to me.
That being said, I did try to read a couple a few years ago, both some old favourites and the latest in the series. Since I first started reading them, I have, of course, read very widely, and the Redwall books weren’t as super-amazing as I remembered. Maybe a bit of plot and character rehashing, not as much imagination, a tendency to be overly sentimental etc. But still, I think they were perfect for my age when I first started reading them, and they are the kind of books I would recommend to a reluctant reader, to get them excited about picking up a book. They were hilarious and sad and exciting and comforting, and for a few years I devoured every one. I’ll remember them, and Jacques, very fondly, for a long time.