So, Brian Jacques recently passed away. He was the author of the Redwall series, which was all about talking mice that fought talking rats with a magic sword.
Man, I would totally keep going with how ridiculous that sounds, but the truth of the matter is that the Redwall books were some of the most influential books of my childhood.
I loved the whole shebang-- all the silly agnostic mice that lived inside of an abbey and ate delicious things, and the evil rodents that wanted in on the good thing they had going. All the badger-lords of Salamandastron, and the Long Patrol that they bossed around. The sword of Martin the Warrior, and all that shit. I loved it.
I mean, seriously-- I read it all. I listened to the books on tape to go to sleep at night. I'm not ashamed to say that I liked Redwall more than I liked most everything else that I was reading or watching (or doing, or that was happening in my life) at the time.
Redwall was the first saga that I ever really felt I was a part of. I grew up with the story, and I felt myself invested in the world that Jacques created. I wanted everything to go well for the talking mice just as much as I wanted to eat the delicious things that the critters at Redwall Abbey cooked up (to this day, there has never been a writer that has tantalized me with descriptions of food like Brian Jacques.) As silly as it was, I thought that it was the coolest thing. Moreover, I thought it was the most important thing for the mice to find the sword of Martin again so they could fight off the slavers and the brigands just in time for whatever non-denominational woodland festival Redwall had going at the time. Brian Jacques made me care about a story--about a group of characters, a place, an entire world and everything in it-- in a way that nobody before (and very few since) have been able to do.
In time, I grew up. I stopped reading the Redwall series because I started high-school, and at the time I thought those books were for little kids. And anyway, I had other things to read--things for class, other series of books, and so on--so I left the world of Redwall behind.
Except, I don't think I ever really did. No matter what I read, or where I've gone or what I've learned from years of books and classes, some part of me has always been sitting down at the table with Matthias, Methuselah, Basil Stag Hare and all the rest, eating a bowl of strawberries and cream and listening to the story of how Redwall Abbey was saved from Cluny the Scourge. And I know, and I can say without any hesitation, that I've loved every minute of it.
Thanks, Brian Jacques.