Sunday, April 9, 2017

All The Love For The Redwall Series By Brian Jacques

I was one of those kids whose parents objected to Harry Potter on religious grounds. I never read the books, watched the movies, learned what house I was until I was an adult. I went to the very last Harry Potter movie when it came out because (at the time) I was like THIS IS MY ONLY CHANCE TO SEE THIS FANDOM IN THEATERS! (Thankfully, I am completely proven wrong. #FantasticBeastsAndWhereToFindThem!). While other kids were waiting in line to get the next book in the series - I was searching my library for anything, everything that could fill the empty space where Harry Potter was held sacred by my peers. Then I read a book about a abbey of woodland creatures in a forest called Mossflower....

Redwall by Brian Jacques

Published: 1986
Publisher: Avon Books
Page Count: 352 
Genre: Young Adult, Children, Fantasy.
Find the Author:

"In the glorious tradition of Watership Down comes a powerful tale of fantasy, courage, and epic adventure—the heart-soaring story of a wondrous quest to recover a legendary lost weapon…and of a bumbling young apprentice monk named Matthias, mouse-kind's most unlikely hero.War erupts in the Summer of the Late Rose, shattering the peace that had reigned in Mossflower since the magnificent mouse, Martin the Warrior, laid down his mighty sword generations earlier. Now a dark cloud of doom and despair hangs over the ancient stone abbey of Redwall. Cluny the Scourge—the one-eyed embodiment of evil, the most savage bilge rat that ever jumped from a ship to shore—has arrived with his rodent horde to conquer…and to destroy." - Nabbed from Goodreads.

Redwall was my Hogwarts. It's not as well known but if you look in the right places you will find the inhabitants of Mossflower woods concocting recipes and doodling fan art in the quieter corners of The Internet. We are, generally, a peaceful people more focused on getting the best recipe for the Otter's Hot Root Soup than arguing which species is better or whatever we could fight about but don't because we want to honor Martin the Warrior's Spirit. 

There is a formula Jacques created and yet there is not. There are the badgers in the mountains (EULALIA!!!!), the otters of the sea, the origins of Martin the Warrior and the stories that came before Redwall Abbey was founded. He explores all of this in the 21 book series. Yes, 21 books. About woodland creatures in a non-denominational peaceful religious community battling it out with various foes. You are constantly reading different perspectives, following different journey's that end up tying together in the end. While the series jumps around on the timeline (chronological and timeline order can be found on his website) you see many familiar faces but you're never bored. Because something is always happening. Gypsies stealing from your traveling characters! Accidentally wandering into the lair of a snake! Pirates arriving on land to plunder! A myth must be proven right to save everyone! REALLY GREAT FOOD DESCRIPTIONS!!! ADORABLE LITTLE 'DIBBUNS' ANTICS (small children of Redwall). 

When I was a kid/tween this semi-kinda-formula was my escape. Most of ya'll went to Hogwarts with Harry every year. I went to Mossflower Woods and followed various woodland creatures as they defeated The Bad Guys. (My particular favorites were the ones centered around the Badgers of Salamandastron Mountain). I spent a couple of summers watching the adapted animation tv show on the PBS channel. The theme song still brings on the nostalgia feels. (And, if I remember correctly pretty spot on the adapting part.

The highlight of my Redwall Fandom Career happened, of course, when I found out that Brian Jacques was coming to Des Moines, Iowa. To the children's store called The Learning Post to be exact (provider of my Boxcar Children collection and source of sticker books for my ever expanding sticker collection.). I remember carrying my beloved, well worn, used paperback copy of Redwall while we waited. I remember thinking that he looked a lot like my Dad and had the same fashion sense (Ivy Caps). His wife accompanied him. And when it came time for book signings and my turn came up she made a smiling comment that my book was very well loved. He told me that in his upcoming book Loamhedge there was a small rabbit maiden who used a wheelchair (totally made my year).

As you can clearly see - it's still a very well worn copy but nevertheless treasured signed copy of Redwall. :) I had to stop using it and retire it to a quiet, dry, sun-sheltered spot on my bookshelf. lol.

I could probably count on one hand the amount of people I've met that are familiar and are fans of Redwall and Brian Jacques. Like I said above, we're a quiet folk used to not having anyone know what we're talking about when we bring up our love for Redwall. I met one of my best friends on SecondLife and what was the cementer of our friendship? Not only did she know Redwall and Brian Jacques - SHE LOVED THEM TOO.

And, just FYI, if I had been a character in the series I probably would have been a Squirrel. They were deadly with a sling and 'flew between the trees'. At a younger age, I sooooo imagined myself a squirrel picking off bad guys from high up on the ramparts of the Abbey. If not, then I was a badger warrior-maiden like Cregga Rose Eyes who retired to spend peaceful years as Badger Mother of Redwall.

So, if you haven't ever picked up a Redwall book - go to the library and look up Brian Jacques. If you're busy and listen to audio's - good news, Brian Jacques narrated with a full cast many of his books. (I'm listening to the Long Patrol right now). When you're done come and know that this is a place that knows what you mean when you say "RRRREEEEDDDDDWWWWAAAAAALLLLL!!!!!"

Until next time, 


P.S. Really, really great food descriptions. So good there's a cookbook.

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