RIP Brian Jacques
February 7, 2011 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Brian Jacques, author of many children's books about heroic small furry creatures, has died. Jacques, who grew up in Liverpool, England, was 71.

Jacques came to our school library when I was in junior high and exclaimed over the many tiny dioramas of rabbits and mice preparing to go off on medieval quests -- and preparing the feats he described in such lavish detail -- we had made to honor his coming. (For my sisters and me, this was basically re-creating our outdoor play with small animal dolls in smaller boxes; he so informed our imaginary worlds.) I remember he was incredibly gentle, read the voices of his characters wonderfully, and did a trick where he wiggled his ears. He will be greatly missed by many.
posted by gusandrews (133 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
.
posted by lizarrd at 11:15 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by Shirley88 at 11:17 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by Schlimmbesserung at 11:17 AM on February 7, 2011


Oh, no! Sad. The Redwall books are such favorites of my godchildren.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:18 AM on February 7, 2011


I really liked his books as a kid. I think Pearls of Lutra was the last one I read. He could spin a yarn with the best of 'em.

.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 11:19 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by hellojed at 11:19 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:20 AM on February 7, 2011


I can't favorite this. How am I supposed to favorite the passing of the architect of so many up-too-late, flashlight-under-bedsheets, wide-eyed literary adventures? That is not my favorite thing. That is the opposite of my favorite thing.

I still think about Redwall Abbey. I think about scenes from those books all the time. They are an inextricable part of my internal life, in that way that only books you read as a kid can be.

I will never forget asking about his books at the tiny bookstore near my house in Albuqerque, New Mexico.

"I'm looking for Brian Jacques," I said. I pronounced it "Zhock."

"It's pronounced 'ha-kes'," the bookstore lady confidently informed me.

Turns out we were both wrong, but she was wronger.

It is definitely time for a Redwall reread.

So sad.

Eulaliaaaaaa!

.

posted by pts at 11:21 AM on February 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


I loved the Redwall books. LOVED them.

.
posted by ORthey at 11:23 AM on February 7, 2011


Oh man, that stinks, I loved the Redwall series when I was a kid, I wonder how it would hold up to an adult re-reading.

.
posted by ghharr at 11:23 AM on February 7, 2011


Sad. Our kids very much love the Redwall books.

.
posted by jquinby at 11:23 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by fight or flight at 11:25 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 11:26 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by schmod at 11:27 AM on February 7, 2011


[raises a glass of strawberry cordial]
posted by entropone at 11:27 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Iridic at 11:27 AM on February 7, 2011


Wow. There are so many Redwall books now. The last one I read (I think) was Martin the Warrior, and my sister definitely read through at least Pearls of Lutra.
  1. Redwall (1986)
  2. Mossflower (1988)
  3. Mattimeo (1989)
  4. Mariel of Redwall (1991)
  5. Salamandastron (1992)
  6. Martin the Warrior (1993)
  7. The Bellmaker (1994)
  8. Outcast of Redwall (1995)
  9. The Pearls of Lutra (1996)
  10. The Long Patrol (1997)
  11. Marlfox (1998)
  12. The Legend of Luke (1999)
  13. Lord Brocktree (2000)
  14. The Taggerung (2001)
  15. Triss (2002)
  16. Loamhedge (2003)
  17. Rakkety Tam (2004)
  18. High Rhulain (2005)
  19. Eulalia! (2007)
  20. Doomwyte (2008)
  21. The Sable Quean (2010)
posted by ocherdraco at 11:27 AM on February 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


"So here is my story, may it bring
Some smiles and a tear or so,
It happened once upon a time,
Far away, and long ago,
Outside the night wind keens and wails,
Come listen to me, the Teller of Tales!"

-Brian Jacques, Lord Brocktree
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:29 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


.

Like Martin at Redwall, he will always be with us in spirit.
posted by strixus at 11:29 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


He spoke at my elementary school library in the 80s. He was the first author I'd met in the flesh, and I was in awe. He was so gentle and sweet with us, and he will be missed.
posted by Laura Macbeth at 11:30 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It always disturbed me how all the rats were totally bad, or if they were a little good they would die quickly and tragically to save the hero. I heard somewhere that he said 'children don't need shades of grey' which I strongly disagree with. I'm saying this as someone who DEVOURED those books as a kid.

This post made me laugh, though.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:31 AM on February 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


.
posted by brand-gnu at 11:36 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by reductiondesign at 11:37 AM on February 7, 2011


How have I never heard of this series? Putting it on the list.
posted by DU at 11:38 AM on February 7, 2011


Oh no! I loved those books when I was a kid. I remember getting my younger brother into them, and reenacting vaguely Redwall-ian stories with Beanie Babies. And nerding out one day and putting all of the books into chronological order- not based on when they came out, but based on the chronology within the books. Next time I'm home, I'm breaking them out again.

.
posted by MadamM at 11:39 AM on February 7, 2011


Jacques introduced me to badgers and stoats, made me hungry with descriptions of epic rodent feasts, and taught me the difference between a mole and a vole.

.
posted by narcotizingdysfunction at 11:43 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


.

He was one of the very few authors that my stepson would REALLY focus on, enough to lose himself in a book.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:44 AM on February 7, 2011


Theres an old abbey along my walk into town. Its brick and has a tall tall belfry just like Redwall and from the very first time I walked past it I looked up to the top of the belfry and into the weathervane and wondered if Martin the Warrior's sword was up there waiting to be found when the Abbey came under attack. Thank you for all those stories of my childhood.

.
posted by Glibpaxman at 11:44 AM on February 7, 2011


.

My 13 year old has been reading these books since he could read, and in fact was re-reading Triss just this morning while eating breakfast. Jacques will be greatly missed.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:46 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by tracknode at 11:48 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by Han Tzu at 11:49 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:51 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by dismas at 11:51 AM on February 7, 2011


.

While the books themselves were enjoyable, one of my first regular internet activities was playing and building on a Redwall MUCK.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 11:56 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Damn it. These books were a big part of my childhood. My brothers and I would fight over who got to read the next one first. I think the last one I read was The Long Patrol.

.
posted by robcorr at 11:56 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by zizzle at 11:57 AM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by Zalzidrax at 11:58 AM on February 7, 2011


.

Loved the series, and Mossflower most of all. What a loss.
posted by adrianhon at 12:06 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by pointystick at 12:07 PM on February 7, 2011


I was just about to introduce these books to my son, with whom we've been enjoying a similiar series of graphic novels 'MouseGuard'.
posted by exparrot at 12:07 PM on February 7, 2011


Oh no. My son is now 18 and adored the books when he was younger. Just a couple of nights ago he was telling us why he loved the stories so much, expounding on the good and bad species stereotypes, and did a great imitation of Basil Staghare.

RIP Mr. Jacques.

.
posted by angiep at 12:10 PM on February 7, 2011


Aw, damn. The last book was a return-to-form for him (yes I am still reading them at age 33, why not?), and I'm glad he was able to finish it.

Our spirits never wearied then
in those high old times gone by.
What friends we made, what perils we faced,
together you and I.


.
posted by vorfeed at 12:15 PM on February 7, 2011


.

A part of my childhood died today.
posted by shesdeadimalive at 12:22 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by jzed at 12:23 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by mostlybecky at 12:25 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by Lynsey at 12:33 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by 2ghouls at 12:35 PM on February 7, 2011


I'm curious—which of the books since the last one I read (Martin the Warrior) are the best? I might go pick one or two up to read in bed at night (without a flashlight now, though—I don't think my dad can see that I'm staying up late from 1,000 miles away).
posted by ocherdraco at 12:36 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tonight, I'm going to raise a glass of dandelion cordial and slice off a bigger'n'ever piece of deeper'n'ever turnip'n'tater'n'beetroot pie...
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:37 PM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I went to see him at Hicklebee's a year or two ago. He went over the pronunciation of his name (Jakes!) and told (obviously somewhat well-worn) funny stories in a variety of rich and hilarious voices, and was generally charming and wonderful. The kids and adults all ate it up. I'm glad he forgave me for accidentally setting off the electronic frog while he was talking.
posted by wintersweet at 12:40 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by litleozy at 12:40 PM on February 7, 2011


I remember reading those books as a kid and one night looking frantically at each and every bio on the back of the book trying to figure out how old he was and how many more books he could write. To see that this day has finally come saddens me greatly.

Those stories mean so much to me, and they always will.

.
posted by clockbound at 12:41 PM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 12:41 PM on February 7, 2011


I started writing up a post for the blue as soon as I heard, but yours got up sooner. Doesn't anyone else here have a job?


The Redwall series contains more than twenty books, a television show, an opera, and other assorted odds and ends.

Redwall isn't the only legacy Jacques leaves behind. He ran the BBC radio series Jakestown for decades and spent much of his life working to help the blind, which is in fact what inspired his most well known work.

Here's a speech he gave at a library once. It's amazing how much he loves his work and getting in there with the crowd.

I haven't thought about redwall for years, but it was one of the first book series I ever read and a huge influence on my early teen years. He will be missed.
posted by sandswipe at 12:41 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


ocherdraco - I liked The Bellmaker and Outcast of Redwall (despite the "if you are born evil you will ALWAYS BE EVIL even if you had nurturing parents" moral), but after that I thought they got weaker and weaker and I quit with Marlfox. YMMV, though!
posted by bettafish at 12:41 PM on February 7, 2011


My list is wrong! There's a final book waiting to be published:
22. The Rogue Crew (2011)
It's coming out in May.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:47 PM on February 7, 2011


Loved these as a kid. I remember being 11 or so and suddenly all of my friends were talking about Redwall. I read as many as I could in the next few weeks - absolutely devoured them. I even have a Redwall-style adventure story I wrote for a class project in 6th grade. I think I got up as far as Martin the Warrior. Thank you, Mr. Jacques.
posted by krakedhalo at 12:50 PM on February 7, 2011


After a while they were "Copyright © #### Redwall Abbey Corporation", so I suspect they were ghostwritten after book, say, six. They could keep coming out for a while.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:52 PM on February 7, 2011


I distinctly remember buying Mossflower at a middle school book fair -- yes, based solely on its cover. It's falling apart now for all of the times I've read it in the, oh, fifteen years or so since; when I'm not reading it I keep it bound together with rubber bands. And when I found out there were more books in the series I just about wore out my library card, though I've missed out on everything since Triss, it seems. Time for a re-read!
posted by alynnk at 12:54 PM on February 7, 2011


.

Steer clear of the TV show; a lot of silly plot adjustments, bad animation, and blatantly recycled frames.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:59 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


.

This calls for a feast with the last of Fall's blueberry cordial at chez Blasdelb
posted by Blasdelb at 1:01 PM on February 7, 2011


.

My son has a lot (all?) of his Redwall series.
posted by Doohickie at 1:03 PM on February 7, 2011


Absolutely breaks my heart.

I was into model trains, and in fourth grade I made a scale model of Salamandastron, its battlements and the surrounding countryside. It was about the size of a coffee table. When Brian Jacques was doing a signing at the local Barnes and Nobles my grandpa helped me cart the entire thing into the store so he could sign it. I remember his eyes got huge and he looked delighted and amazed by my project.

I walked on air for weeks.

As a child, I lived in the world his books gave me - I learned to love good food, intentional community, architecture, the wilderness - many of the things that make me who I am today - by reading his adventures.

.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:06 PM on February 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


After a while they were "Copyright © #### Redwall Abbey Corporation", so I suspect they were ghostwritten after book, say, six. They could keep coming out for a while.

I quite doubt that, actually. Well, I don't know about being ghostwritten (who knows; I haven't read them), but a company name in a copyright no doesn't indicate authorship. Several of my authors (I'm a book editor) transfer the ownership of their copyright to a corporation which covers all their business interests. While books by authors like "Carolyn Keene" are of course copyrighted in the name of their publishers (since there is no "Carolyn Keene"), books copyrighted in the name of a corporation that seem to belong to the author (usually ones whose name is some variation on the author's name or names of characters or places they've created) are much more likely merely to indicate that the author preferred to assign ownership of their copyright to a corporation for accounting purposes.

Many books are ghostwritten (I guarantee you that almost any celebrity memoir or autobiography is) but most ghostwritten books are copyrighted in the names of their purported authors. (Ghostwriters usually agree to forfeit any claim on the copyright for such works, and work for hire—for a fee—rather than receiving ongoing royalties.)
posted by ocherdraco at 1:08 PM on February 7, 2011


(who knows; I haven't read them)

Excuse me, I haven't read them past the sixth book.

I really love Mossflower
posted by ocherdraco at 1:09 PM on February 7, 2011


:(
This series was one of the first I got into when I really got into 'series' books. (I think I'll have to check a few out of the library now since I don't really remember where I left off.)
posted by sperose at 1:12 PM on February 7, 2011


I devoured his books as a kid. One night I literally did stay up all night with a flashlight reading one of them. I loved the badger lords and the shrews and the ancient riddles and the feasting and the gore.
Unfortunately, that Something Awful parody linked above has colored my perception of him as an adult. I wish it didn't.
Why was there never a Redwall real time strategy game?
Did anyone figure out the scale of the books - how big the animals were?
It dosen't matter. Here's to sleepless nights and epic stories.

EULALILLIA!!!!

.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:13 PM on February 7, 2011


Oh, damn.

.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:21 PM on February 7, 2011


Badgers will be broken-hearted, but I can't imagine stoats are upset.

.
posted by grobstein at 1:21 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh no. I LOVED his books as a child; when I moved out gave them to my brother (he was always sneaking them out of my room anyway). This is a sad, sad day.

.
posted by janepanic at 1:22 PM on February 7, 2011


Oh, this makes me sad. I loved Redwall when I was a kid, but I hadn't thought about it in years until I went to Germany last summer. I was taking a really intense language class and at the beginning I was totally overwhelmed: by how much work it was, by how much I didn't know, by how I couldn't even go grocery shopping without a dictionary.

And then one afternoon I was wandering around a flea market and saw on the top of a pile of books: Redwall: Der Sturm auf die Abtei. I picked it up and started reading it. Parts of it were slow and laborious, but I'd read it so many times as a kid that whole chunks of it were surprisingly easy. That was the first time that anything in German had ever felt easy. So I bought it for 50 cents and started reading it on the subway back and forth to class.

For the rest of the summer, whenever I started to get discouraged by all of the work I still had to do, I would think to myself, 'Well, at least I know how to swear in German like a fictional Medieval rat!' and I would cheer right up again.
posted by colfax at 1:26 PM on February 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


I loved the fierce little warrior sparrows that so captured how the sparrows behave in my front bushes. He was a great creator of characters.
RIP
.
posted by readery at 1:29 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I cut my Redwall teeth on The Bell Maker, and I remember The Long Patrol being my favorite. As someone who fancies himself a writer of the talking animal sub-genre, I looked up to Jacques tremendously.

.
posted by gc at 1:34 PM on February 7, 2011


Terribly sad.

His books were a real 'gateway' for me, from children's lit into fantasy. Great, deep memories of childhood and wonder.
posted by jet_manifesto at 1:35 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by arveale at 1:35 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by wires at 1:36 PM on February 7, 2011


I take that back! Mariel of Redwall was my first! The Bell Maker was the book I went out and got immediately after I had finished Mariel.

PS -- I'm sure most of you know about this, but Mouse Guard is very much in the same area as Redwall, and a delight to read for any age.
posted by gc at 1:42 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who says that I am dead
Knows nought at all.
I - am that is,
Two mice within Redwall.
posted by lunit at 1:46 PM on February 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


After a while they were "Copyright © #### Redwall Abbey Corporation", so I suspect they were ghostwritten after book, say, six. They could keep coming out for a while.

As already mentioned above, that doesn't necessarily mean anything. All of Pratchett's books are copyright "Terry & Lyn Pratchett", but it's still Terry writing them on his own.
[ All Terry's novels are "copyright Terry and Lyn Pratchett", and people on the net were wondering about the reasons for it. ]

"Copyright does not necessarily have anything to do with authorship -- an author can assign copyright wherever he or she likes. Lyn and I are a legal partnership, and so we hold copyright jointly (for various mildly beneficial reasons) in the same way that, if we ever bothered to form a limited company, that would hold the copyright. At random I've picked a few favourite books off the shelf, and can say that it's not unusual for copyright not to be held simply in the name of the author. I do all the writing!"
(source)

I do remember being amused at a reviewer of Monstrous Regiment that thought Lyn on the copyright was a new thing and that it meant she'd co-written the book and thus the focus on female characters. They obviously hadn't been paying attention.
posted by kmz at 1:46 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by Fizz at 2:04 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by HMSSM at 2:07 PM on February 7, 2011


.

I had never heard of Brian Jacques until my girlfriend turned me on to the Redwall books back around 2000. I was about 28/29 then. Such a delightful series of books! It didn't matter that was as old as I was; the books weren't "dumbed down" to the point that an adult couldn't enjoy them. I sure wish that I had read Mr. Jacques when I was a kid, however. Now I have to figure out a way to break the news to my girlfriend when she gets home here in a half hour or so. And so it goes. RIP, Mr. Jacques. You brought a lot of good into the world.
posted by frodisaur at 2:08 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by Axle at 2:27 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:29 PM on February 7, 2011


Those books had the best food in them.

.
posted by NoraReed at 2:47 PM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, my heart. I'm actually tearing up a little here. My copies of his books are still sitting on my shelves, pages falling out all over the place and covers all mashed up. I remember learning what 'cygnet' meant from either Redwall or Mattimeo at a wee tender age, and feeling stupidly proud of myself when knowing that word won me bonus marks in a class spelling contest. I remember burning a pot trying to make candied chestnuts, blacking the shit out of that pot and leaving charcoal stripes of honey all over the place. The pot was unusable afterwards and the chestnuts were raw on the inside, but still - the honey was sweet and the outside of the nuts were cooked. Small victories.

Adventures and swashbuckling and heroic epics all around - it was an absolute pleasure to be able to read his stories.

.
posted by zennish at 2:55 PM on February 7, 2011


How sad. I remember reading up to Marlfox in '98, when I was 10, and I already thought I was getting a bit too old for them.

They were great books, loved by both boys and girls at my elementary school.

I think what really stands out to me was the heroism- the real heroism and time and again the lesson in choosing what was right over what was easy. I won't forget Matthias and his lady love Cornflower and the terrible Cluny the Scourge. Or Martin and Rose. Those books really had a hand in forming my young character.

My favorite was The Bellmaker, for some reason-no one else liked it as much as I did. I remember it being sort of sad and romantic in a way the other books weren't.
posted by Nixy at 3:14 PM on February 7, 2011


Who knows HOW many times I read and re-read Redwall and Mossflower; for a while I used to finish one then pick up the other, finish that and then start again. Then Mattimeo, when that came out. (Which dates me quite precisely.) Good reads.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 3:17 PM on February 7, 2011


.

I first read the Redwall books in graduate school. Such beautiful, vivid food porn. They never failed to make me hungry.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:18 PM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


The first three Redwall books are sitting on my bookshelves right now. They, along with the first Duncton trilogy, are the only anthropomorphized animal books from my youth that I've held on to (Farthing Wood et al fell by the wayside a long time ago). So thank you, Mr Jacques, for the rollicking entertainment.
posted by MUD at 3:23 PM on February 7, 2011


.

One afternoon, I discovered that I had somehow taped part of the TV series instead of the BBC Gormenghast production. I didn't have cable and my reception was erratic at best but I marathoned those fuzzy scratchy episodes and had to find out what would happen next. It was so damn epic. Didn't those episodes have an end segment with Jacques? I remember him being charming as hell making sparra noises but YouTube searching is failing me.
posted by zix at 3:23 PM on February 7, 2011


(But, yes, the species thing? All good v. all bad? That's probably why I haven't gone back to them.)
posted by lapsangsouchong at 3:25 PM on February 7, 2011


I read the first 9 books and loved them to death - I hope I still have them all somewhere, though I suspect that Martin the Warrior in particular is probably in tatters and barely hanging together after how many times I read it. I met Brian Jacques at a book signing when Pearls of Lutra came out and he was terrifically funny and gracious. These books were a huge piece of my childhood and this news makes me very sad.

"Redwall is where safety and warmth surround you. Food, friends, music and song. Redwall will always welcome you back."

.

posted by naoko at 3:34 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by you're a kitty! at 3:43 PM on February 7, 2011


My very first screenname was Mara0. My first website was called "Alli's Redwall Page!" back in the Athens neighborhood on Geocities. For years, I dreamed of Salamandastron.

Mr. Jacques, you will be sorely missed.

.
posted by Maya Cecile at 3:45 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


(But, yes, the species thing? All good v. all bad? That's probably why I haven't gone back to them.)

Agreed. Someone gave me a copy of Perloo the Bold the other day, (because "you like these Redwall books"!), and I really enjoyed the extent to which the entire book exists to subvert this idea. If I had a kid, I'd be sure to give him or her both Redwall and Perloo.

That said, I grew up reading Hugh Lofting, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and a lot of other authors who occasionally seemed to have the same idea about human races, and I never bought into it. Kids are smart enough to understand that the world doesn't always work the way it does in books.
posted by vorfeed at 3:50 PM on February 7, 2011


I swear to God I just saw a squirrel crying in the middle of my backyard.

I think I may join him.

What a terrible loss.
posted by Quasimike at 3:52 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by ghostbikes at 3:54 PM on February 7, 2011


Aw, damn.

.
posted by brennen at 4:09 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by Lebannen at 4:15 PM on February 7, 2011


My favorite was The Bellmaker, for some reason-no one else liked it as much as I did. I remember it being sort of sad and romantic in a way the other books weren't.

The Bellmaker is the first book I can remember crying during. The ending (Finbarr and Thatch's fates) just completely broke my young heart.

Jacques was brilliant. Some of the later books tapered off a bit in quality, but they were always fun. And there was always a ridiculously overdescribed feast.
posted by AdamCSnider at 4:42 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by ChrisR at 4:52 PM on February 7, 2011


I think Mariel was the first time in a fantasy novel I ever got to read about a kickass female main character. I'm also pretty sure the feast descriptions kickstarted my obsession with food and making desserts.

(please please tell me meadowcream exists and how to make it)
posted by casarkos at 5:29 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aw. This is sad news, but heartening to see so many Redwall fans on here. I was completely enamoured with the series when I was around 11 or 12, starting with Mossflower which I read over and over. This was when R. L. Stein was the big thing at school and they thought I was crazy for reading enormous books about talking mice. I felt a little bitter when Harry Potter came out and made fantasy stuff acceptable when it was too late for me...
posted by amethysts at 6:02 PM on February 7, 2011


I believe that I've read Redwall more times than any other book. Good luck with what's next, Mr. Jacques.
posted by Kwine at 6:19 PM on February 7, 2011


Oh, gosh. I hate it when you start a series as a kid and you gradually grow out of it and then you discover that there's been like eight books published since the last one you read. I'm going to need to go pick up where I left off.

Mr. Jacques, thanks so much, for the riddles I could never solve, for making me perpetually hungry, for making a universe that just kept opening up on itself. I always hated finishing a super good book and knowing that I'd never find out what happened to all of the characters. But as soon as I closed a Redwall book, I could start on the next one, reading about the last protagonist's children or ancestors or friends. The feeling of having experienced a truly infinite, rich and fully realized world never failed to delight me.

.
posted by estlin at 6:33 PM on February 7, 2011


I felt a little silly being so devastated over this, but I'm glad to see I'm not alone. I read these books like crazy as a kid, even fashioning myself my own Gullwhacker to keep under my pillow. Mariel was a big inspiration to a painfully shy and often frightened young girl.
posted by Judith Butlerian Jihad at 6:37 PM on February 7, 2011


Aw man this is sad news, though it looked like he lived a good life. He and Orson Scott Card pretty much single handedly got me into reading as a serious hobby as a kid, and that's a pretty serious gift to give someone.
posted by tmthyrss at 6:43 PM on February 7, 2011


I've never read any of his books, but his radio show, Jakestown, was one of the best things on Radio Merseyside for many years.

Much better than the ludicrous 'Hold Your Plums' with Billy and Wally.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:18 PM on February 7, 2011


Awww, I loved these books as a kid. I remember when I was around 8 or 9 a friend of mine turned me on to Martin The Warrior (I think it was the latest one at the time) and I devoured it in a few days. Then I had to go back and read earlier ones from there. Like others, I just sort of stopped reading them as I got older, but they've always been something that's stuck with me and I find myself thinking about them from time to time.

Looks like I've got some more reading to do...
posted by fishmasta at 8:07 PM on February 7, 2011


the first fantasy books I ever read! to this day I sometimes still try to do impressions of the way the sparrows and hares talked.

.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:09 PM on February 7, 2011


These were my most favorite books ever as a kid, I'd read and re-read them, I died when new ones came out, and they were most likely to be found under my bedsheets in the morning after I stayed up all night with a flashlight.

As I grew up I forgot about them, until I spotted a copy of Redwall in a library at the end of high school (may have been the beginning of college). I immediately grabbed it and sat down, relishing the opportunity to relive those wonderful childhood memories, the way I did when I reread Strega Nona or Roald Dahl or The Borrowers.

God, I wish I hadn't. It was awful. I read further in the series and was even more disappointed. Repetative word usage, passages, excess verbiage, plots derivative of one another and other fiction and sometimes even completely lifted from the best fantasy novels of our time (Lord of the Rings comes to mind). I promise you, I tried to find redeeming qualities, but they only existed in my nostalgia.

I have since been trying to forget that episode has ever happened, choosing instead to remember those happy childhood days. It's like finding out a favorite teacher killed puppies in their basement.
posted by schroedinger at 8:51 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's like finding out a favorite teacher killed puppies in their basement.

Boy, was that an awkward field trip.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 9:58 PM on February 7, 2011


.
posted by marakesh at 10:12 PM on February 7, 2011


I think the thing that irks me now is how popular the Warriors series is, and how it's only a few years old and there's already over 20 books, and they're all CATS!

It's like, "in my day, kids, we read books about noble animals of ALL SORTS, and they had swords and feasts and legendary scrolls and elaborate dwellings, and we loved them dearly and made our mothers take us to booksignings, and we wrote our own fiction starring mice and otters and moles, not just cats. Because just cats is lame."


.
posted by redsparkler at 10:17 PM on February 7, 2011


Aww man, I adored these as a kid.

They were the only thing my bookphobic older brother would read, and he kept telling me to read them. I read the first page of Redwall when I was pretty small, and stubbornly decided I wouldn't like it, so refused to read any more. And then I was forced to read one of the series for a Brownie reading badge and, surprise surprise, adored them. I think Martin the Warrior and Mossflower were my favourites - both used to make me cry.

I think I made it up to Triss. They all got pretty repetitive after a while, but they were such a part of my childhood that I kept buying the new ones well into my teens.

RIP Brian Jacques.
posted by badmoonrising at 12:43 AM on February 8, 2011


After weeks of not being able to come here out of shame & worry, I had to see if anyone had posted about this. What a treasure. I'm glad he got so many years and saw the fruit of his efforts in his own time.

That said, I wish he had been given another decade, at least. I'd consumed Redwall when it first came out, but had no idea there were other books until a few months ago. Things have been really difficult and I've needed help maintaining a basic core of positivity and determination. A chance find of Mattimeo at the thrift store got me hunting for the rest. They've been such a boon. Sure, there's some triteness, some consistency errors, and I understand the complaints about too many songs and whatnot...but it's a whole world, one that allows simultaneous escape from and reflection upon this one.

I've been so grateful for it, I'd planned to put together a Redwall post for December before I lost my ability to reach out again for a while. And I'd intended to write to him in thanks. But, now, too late. I'll have to pass on my gratitude to his loved ones, I guess.

RIP, Mr. Jacques. Thank you. Bless you. Your world-between-pages has made life better for me and mine.
posted by batmonkey at 1:37 AM on February 8, 2011


.
posted by cupcakeninja at 4:24 AM on February 8, 2011


.
posted by Shoggoth at 5:57 AM on February 8, 2011


.
posted by sigmagalator at 6:47 AM on February 8, 2011


.

The dodgy species politics bothered me after a while, but I still think of his work with a huge amount of fondness.
posted by marginaliana at 7:02 AM on February 8, 2011


I must have been about ten when I got my first set of literature-inspired goosebumps as Matthias/Martin told Methuselah that he could accompany him into Redwall's foundations.

Mossflower is by far my favorite and I would argue that it holds up to an adult reading. Gingivere the cat is an early example that members of a species were not necessarily good or bad.

.
posted by Jorus at 7:21 AM on February 8, 2011


.
posted by tuesdayschild at 3:35 PM on February 8, 2011


Fun fact: in the first book, there were towns (ostensiably inhabited by humans), a horse that draws wagon, and real-world places (like Portugal, where Cluny the Scourge comes from.)

I would also like to know what they milk to make all that cheese they scoff down wih nut-brown ale.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:00 PM on February 8, 2011


I would also like to know what they milk to make all that cheese they scoff down wih nut-brown ale.

Aphids?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:05 PM on February 8, 2011


I was hoping badgers, myself.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:06 PM on February 8, 2011


I actually never realised until now that all that food was vegetarian.
posted by rollick at 11:22 PM on February 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was mostly vegetarian. But the centerpiece of the opening feast in Redwall is a fish caught by the mice. They do honor its spirit in the abbot's blessing before the meal:

Silver fish whose life we take
Only for a meal to make.


I checked that but remembered it by heart. I am not sure if I should feel proud.

As dunkadunc pointed out, the Redwall world is slightly different from those of the books written later.
posted by Jorus at 6:26 AM on February 9, 2011


Oh, and Gonff also goes fishing in Mossflower but lets the fish go to escape from a swan OK I'll stop now.
posted by Jorus at 6:28 AM on February 9, 2011




That entry doesn't have nearly enough about Young and Owd Dinny. This may actually drive me to join TV Tropes... thanks.
posted by Jorus at 6:59 AM on February 10, 2011


.
posted by schyler523 at 4:48 PM on February 10, 2011


This is super sad.
posted by threeants at 10:15 AM on February 14, 2011


« Older You cannot wash blood with blood.   |   Some people learn lessons the hard way. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments