I’ve mentioned him before. And I am sure I’ll mention him again. How couldn’t I? He is one of the most influential reasons I started (and kept on) reading as a child.
Brian Jacques died on February 5, 2011 of a sudden heart attack. I haven’t read any of the Redwall series since 1998’s Marlfox, but I can still name my favorite characters (Mariel, Finnbarr Galedeep, Tarquin Longleap Woodsorrel), my favorite scenes (any part that included the Long Patrol), my favorite stories (The Pearls of Lutra, Salamandostron). Even if the books all tend to run together, the conglomeration is in most ways greater than the sum of its parts.
10 Brian Jacques Favorites
- Every species has a different dialect. And even though I hated slogging through what the moles were saying, the jaunty hares more than made up for it.
- The food descriptions. The cheeses, the scones, the meadowcream, the strawberry cordial. It’s enough to give a kid diabetes just by reading.
- Strong. Female. Characters. (I’m looking at you Mariel Gullwhacker).
- Every once in a while, one of the bad guys turned good. Just enough to warm a kid’s heart.
- The fact that I never cared that it would take literally forever for mice and hedgehogs to travel as far as the usually did (e.g. Redwall to the island Terramort). Jacques mastered the suspension of disbelief.
- Death was a real thing in the series – both good and bad characters were slain in battle or croaked from old age. The Redwall series was second only to Charlotte’s Web in my childhood understanding of mortality.
- Troy Howell’s US cover illustrations.
- The fact that even though Redwall, Mattimeo, and Martin the Warrior were made into cartoons, no one really knows about them because the books were so much better.
- Brian Jacques started writing as a milk truck driver as a way to entertain one of his milk stops, a school for blind children. This helps account for the highly descriptive language in the series, as well as makes Brian Jacques just about the nicest guy ever.
- I can go home tonight, pull out my old hardback version of The Legend of Luke and re-read it for what will probably be the 12th time and still love every page.