Brian Jacques' Death: the Legacy of Redwall
The day I heard that Brian Jacques was dead, I felt my childhood officially end. That was early February 2011, the end of middle school.
I read the entire Redwall series in a few months during the fourth grade. I was ten years old. The series has some twenty-odd books in it, all fat and enchanting. Every day or two I would check out a new novel from the school library, with its small print and colorful front picture of a sword-bearing badger or an otter pirate or a heroic-looking mouse. And I still remember my three favorite titles: Taggerung, The Pearls of Lutra, and Eulalia. Oh, and Triss. And Marlfox, and Outcast of Redwall…
The books are detailed and elegantly-written, high anthropomorphic swords-and-sandals fantasy with no magic. But plenty of food, fighting and family drama. It reminds me a lot of The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, with the same epic adventure and good-versus-evil themes only with animals instead of people. Anthropomorphic fiction seems much more popular with kids than with adults or teenagers; I suppose because animals are easier to relate to and more fun to imagine.
Apparently adults are also fond of these books, and that’s easy to understand because of the rather complicated storylines and detailed prose. If you want an idea of how rich the world is, check out the Wikipedia page of all the characters. The Redwall books are worth a read for anyone interested in high, swords-and-sandals fantasy.
For a few months I lost myself utterly in Brian Jacques’ creations. That series marked one of the high points of my fantasy reading, starting in kindergarten and now perhaps beginning to diminish with The House of Hades’ release in 2013. Nowadays it is more difficult for me to quietly slip into another universe; I think that has something to do with my cynicism, the further development of my wisdom, something that set in after Jacques’ death. Something that made it harder to push back the boundaries of reality – call it a loss of innocence. Back in the fourth grade it was easy, perhaps too easy to simply escape from the world with all of its confusing hypocrisy and boring school days; I only needed a hint of an excuse to walk alongside my fantastical friends and battle their despicable enemies. I owe Brian Jacques one of the most intense and engrossing escapades ever given to me by a single author. For that I cannot thank him enough.