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A Reflection of Sorts
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  1. #1
    Patroller Schröder's Avatar
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    A Reflection of Sorts

    Hello, I’m Henry Darscer (not my real name, but my pen name if I ever choose to use one). I read Redwall for the first time in the latter half of the eighth grade (Yes, my Redwall experience was later and more recent than a lot of other people’s. That isn’t a bad thing though; at least I don’t think so), and this is a reflection. (Kind of)

    I first started reading Redwall when my English teacher saw that I had liked The Angel’s Command and assumed that I would like Redwall as well. I had seen the books before, in the Library, but I had never picked one up because I was not sure if I would like them (I thought this because the covers looked almost intimidating; I remember seeing Taggerung’s cover the most, and the sight of an evil-looking animal thing that was holding a wicked looking knife can be a little scary when you are younger).
    Upon receiving the book from my teacher, I was skeptical. You know that phase we all go through that makes us “too cool for that”? Well I was in it, and a book with a cover picture of a mouse holding a sword was not the most “cool” thing in the world to be reading.

    I read it anyway.

    And boy was I wrong.

    I stayed up past midnight reading it. I read it on the way to school. I read it after school, and until I finished I didn’t want to put it down.
    Memories had continually flooded back to me from when I was younger, when they had the show on PBS; I distinctly remember my mom turning on the television set and saying something like, “it’s Redwall; there are mice that protect the others from rats.” Though I remember the animation being darker, more like the book covers (maybe I am confusing it with The Great Mouse Detective or The Secret of NIMH?).

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    After I finished reading, I begged my mom to take me to the bookstore and get the rest of the books, a 168 dollar undertaking, plus another 3 dollars for a “like new” first American edition hardback on eBay. I had to buy the books a few at a time because of the price and the fact that they didn’t have all of them at once, and we had to order them in. I’m still working on getting all of the audiobooks seeing as I only have Redwall, Mossflower, and Mattimeo so far. (Curses for them being so expensive!).

    While waiting for the books that I couldn’t get my paws on, I watched the show on YouTube, and I have to say, I was impressed. They got Tim Curry to play Slagar, I thought that was AWESOME!

    I admit it…I may have, uh, shed a tear or two when Rose died at the end of Martin the Warrior (Even though I knew it was coming because I waited to read the book first, but that didn’t seem to matter). When she died in the book I didn’t, it was sad, and I felt bad for Martin, but not anything anywhere near bringing tears; but in the show, there was something that struck me as “????. That just happened. Wow.” I was in shock. I didn’t want to believe it.

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    By the end of the summer, I had finished reading all of the books at least once, and Redwall twice (the second time for Redwall I read it in one sitting; I timed it too. Five hours and twenty-six minutes for any of you who are curious). The same year, I re-read all of them, that time in chronological order. I started in the late winter and finished the day after Easter. I noticed something funny as I finished; my paternal grandfather had been visiting with us when I started reading, and the day I finished, it wasn’t significant or anything, but I thought it was interesting and once I realized it, I made sure to finish while he was still visiting, just because.

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    I am telling you all of this because three years ago today, 5 February 2011, the great storyteller, the teller of tales, the father of Redwall, James Brian Jacques passed away in his hometown of Liverpool, the result of a heart attack.

    In passing he left twenty-two epic stories of a new world that was of his own design (plus the Castaways, his poetry and the smaller books like Winter’s Tale). A world that inspired many others to write as he did; by painting pictures with words. I am one of those inspired by him.

    Now ask yourself, “How much has Brian changed our world and our own lives?” (Answers to this question in the replies would be good but not necessary)

    His books have sold more than twenty million copies around the world (though I think I saw somewhere that it was more than 35 million), and they have been translated into twenty-eight languages. People all over the world have read, re-read and re-re-read the classic tales that Brian spun. He brought a new world into ours that allows people to get away from the beeping and buzzing of the 21st century, and into one that is full of wonder, beauty, and magic. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect way to get away from it all than by picking up one of his books and going to Redwall.

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    But now that he is gone, we are the ones to keep it alive; we need to keep it going if we really want Brian to live forever as the name that brings smiles to children’s faces and images of red sandstone walls, great feasts, great warriors, and greater friends to their minds.
    There will be no new canon literature, only fanfictions. There may be a new season of the TV series (I don’t know if the rumors I heard are true about a Deviant Art team doing that), and apparently a videogame is in the works, we can only hope it is any good. Maybe someday someone will decide to do a Redwall movie, the right way. In my opinion that would be like what was done for the Narnia movies, motion capture put onto a real-life set, but that is just my opinion (See Reepicheep/Badger from Prince Caspian)

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    Reading Redwall changed my life; (yeah that sounds so cliché, but it’s true. And even saying that it sounds cliché but is true is cliché…*sighs*) I never dreamed of writing anything that wasn’t required for school, and look at me now, I’m writing a fanfiction. Sure it sucks in some parts (OK a lot of parts), but I’m doing it. Had I never read Brian’s books I would have even tried to write something as long as what I have; it’s thirty-six pages long and has over thirteen thousand words. I will certainly be making more in the future, but I will be sure to keep them updated constantly and make sure that they are interesting.

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    So, in the end, what I really want to say is this.

    Thank you Brian Jacques, for creating such a magnificently vivid world that will never get old, and thank you for sharing it with us. God bless you, and may you rest in peace.


    "Knowledge is a thing that one cannot have enough of. It is the fruit of wisdom, to be eaten carefully and digested fully..." -BJ

    “I wish to thank all the breweries who manufactured all the ale which got me so sodden drunk, that I got the inspiration to write this book.” -BJ


    Me: "Wait for it...wait for it...MARSHANK REDEMPTION!"
    My friend: "Comments section on 'Escape from Marshank'."
    Me: You've gotta spoil everything, don't ya?"
    Him: "Yup."

  2. #2
    President of The Long Patrol Martin the Warrior's Avatar
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    Apologies for the late reply, Schröder (or Henry). That was nicely said and brought back a swirl of memories. It's been difficult to adjust to Brian's passing (and watch Redwall's presence on store bookshelves dwindle compared to what it once was), but it does this old fan's heart good (at least) to be reminded of the widespread impact the series has had on others.

    Thanks for sharing!
    ~Martin the Warrior~
    -President of The Long Patrol

    "A poet is a musician who can't sing. Words have to find a man's mind before they can touch his heart, and some men's minds are woeful small targets. Music touches their hearts directly no matter how small or stubborn the mind of the man who listens."
    ~The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss

  3. #3
    Patroller Schröder's Avatar
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    It's been another year, and I have nothing new to say, but I did find something today, I recommend taking three minutes (if that) to read it.

    https://www.fanfiction.net/s/1102468...-Brian-Jacques


    "Knowledge is a thing that one cannot have enough of. It is the fruit of wisdom, to be eaten carefully and digested fully..." -BJ

    “I wish to thank all the breweries who manufactured all the ale which got me so sodden drunk, that I got the inspiration to write this book.” -BJ


    Me: "Wait for it...wait for it...MARSHANK REDEMPTION!"
    My friend: "Comments section on 'Escape from Marshank'."
    Me: You've gotta spoil everything, don't ya?"
    Him: "Yup."

  4. #4
    Patroller Mulchior Lancer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schröder View Post

    Now ask yourself, “How much has Brian changed our world and our own lives?” (Answers to this question in the replies would be good but not necessary)
    I remember reading this when I first joined, but at the time I didn’t respond. Not because I didn’t think it was worth responding to, on the contrary! It’s a beautiful, heartfelt expression of what Redwall means to you Schröder, and I’m glad you bumped the post up so I could read it again. The poem you linked is excellent as well, and I enjoyed reading it. I’ve posted my experience getting into Redwall elsewhere, but I can expound upon it here again, which I hope answers the question you put forth.

    This will date me a bit, but I remember seeing the Redwall books in Elementary school. While I read a lot, I was more comfortable reading books around 200 pages. I remember seeing the covers of Redwall, Mattimeo, and Salamandastron sitting in my school library, and they intimidated me by their massive size. They didn’t look like my normal juvenile adventure novels; they were epics! Because of that, I never picked one up, much to my regret.

    Many years later, I needed a book to occupy my time for a lengthy train ride home. I was thinking about picking up the latest Mouse Guard book, but a librarian friend of mine suggested that I look into the Redwall series. He was a Castaways fan, but not much of a Redwall fan, but he knew I loved animal stories, so I followed his advice. I bought Lord Brocktree and Rakkety Tam and sat down with the former for the long ride back to Illinois. It wasn’t a speedy read, tackling a few chapters here and there, but I loved it!

    Soon, I picked up Redwall, Mossflower, and others whenever I had some spare cash to build my collection. While I loved the series, I didn’t think of it as my favorite. That all changed when I got to Mossflower, the fourth book I read in the series. The trials of Martin, Gonff, Dinny, and the other characters captured my imagination and put me side by side with the action. By the end of the book, I was a die hard fan for life. I even read Martin the Warrior and Rakkety Tam in one day each (which is a rarity for me these days).

    Due to my classwork, I had to slow my reading to concentrate on my studies, so I ended up reading the whole series in about four years. However, by the time I finished The Rogue Crew, I wanted to jump right back to Redwall, even though I had many other novels I needed to read.

    It was during my first read through of The Pearls of Lutra in February 2011 that I read the news on Twitter that Brian had passed away. I went to the front page of my copy and wrote down the date and page number I was on when I heard the news. While Pearls isn’t a favorite of mine, it will always hold a special, melancholic place in my heart for that reason.

    Since then, I’ve graduated from school. My final project was heavily influenced by Brian’s work, and I plan on making it into an actual novel soon. I’m still reading the series, but I’m using the audio books in the place of reading them, just so I can get through new stories. In some ways, it means more to me, since I’m hearing Brian narrate them himself, as well as hearing the songs composed as to how he envisioned them. I haven’t seen the cartoons yet, but I’m hoping to rectify that soon. I’ve gone back and read Brian’s interviews and watched his book signings, gleaning anything I can from them. When I went to Scotland and Ireland last year, I anticipated every visit I took to old ruined abbeys, trying to imagine if any of them fit some of the descriptions of Redwall itself.


    What I’ve taken away from Brian’s life is that he was a man that took his job as a writer seriously. He was a man full of unbridled talent, composing thrilling adventure tales, filled with humor, thrills, horror, songs, and poetry. He could’ve written anything he wanted, but used his talent to tell a story to a school of blind children. Think about that, that’s the kind of man he was. He brought hope and joy to not just a school of blind children, but to all of us.

    I think that’s why I scoff when I read complaints from people who say the books are racist, because he made certain races evil and some good. Or I get angry when people want to add over the top gore or sex into the series with their own versions of how Redwall “should be.” Or I roll my eyes when people complain that the series is formulaic. They don’t understand Brian, or where he came from with the series. Not all stories have to have a million shades of grey. I don’t claim to know everything about Brian, but I respect him and his approach. Redwall is about good beasts standing for what’s right and protecting those who can’t protect themselves. Redwall is about a community of beasts who serve each other and fellowship in harmony. That’s why Redwall will stand the test of time as the complainers fade away.

    All writers have heroes that have influenced their entire work. For some it’s Lewis, Tolkien for others, and while I love them both, Brian is my influence.


    Quote Originally Posted by Schröder View Post

    But now that he is gone, we are the ones to keep it alive; we need to keep it going if we really want Brian to live forever as the name that brings smiles to children’s faces and images of red sandstone walls, great feasts, great warriors, and greater friends to their minds.
    I too wonder how we, as a community should continue to herald the flame of Redwall to the next generation. In some ways, I think this should be easy, because the Redwall books are classics that will stand the test of time. Brian never set out to follow the current trends of the day. There’s no angst, no gimmicks that will cause it to age like many series out there today. Redwall will always remain in print, though I worry about some of the other, later tales one day becoming hard to find.

    I think one way we help preserve the series is by posting here or other sites and continuing the conversation. Sure, we might not have the largest amount of active posters, but by talking about it, it keeps the flames going. I’ve also given Redwall as a gift to others, some my age, others children that I hope will find the magic at a younger age than I was when I discovered it. In turn, I hope they share the series with their friends and spread the wonder that is Redwall. I look at what T.W. is doing with his summer library class, and that's exactly how to keep it going.

    Others, as you mention, continue the passion through writing. I look at works like Beyond the Western Deep taking what they’ve loved from the series and made something new out of it. This will undoubtedly continue through other writers. I hope to be part of that, and it looks like you do as well. I think that’s the best compliment any writer can get.

    I also think there’s room to grow for getting the word out about the series through what technology has available for us. There’s the Redwall game forthcoming, and that will undoubtedly get some new interest going for the series. But there’s other ways, too, such as youtube, that remains fertile ground for the community. I haven’t mentioned it yet, because my paws are a bit tied at the moment with another project, but one of these days I plan on starting a Redwall dedicated podcast that goes through the entire series, from Redwall to The Rogue Crew. I have the tools I need, but just don’t have the time at the moment to implement it. I don’t want to do it half-heartedly and do the series injustice, so it’s only in the planning stages at this moment.

    --

    So, in remembrance of Brian’s passing, I raise my glass of iced coffee and salute the man that’s meant so much to all of us. Rest in peace, o’ teller of tales, and thank you for the countless hours of joy you’ve brought to all of us! Slàinte!
    “Aha! Today I shall become an author! And I will auth and auth and auth and make a squillion dollars, whoopee!”
    -Brian Jacques

    My Story Blog

  5. #5
    Patroller Mulchior Lancer's Avatar
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    One question I do have for you (and anyone reading), when you first started reading Redwall, were you hooked immediately, or was it a specific moment that made you the dedicated fan you are today?

    The moment that hooked me for life was in Mossflower, when Martin and Gonff escaped Kotir with Skipper and his crew. While I loved the series before, it was this moment that really put me over the edge. The whole scene is just dramatic, from the two escaping their cell, all the way to their plunge into the river and swift getaway. For some reason it just stuck with me, including Skipper's quip that poor, half-drowned Gonff was stealing river water.
    “Aha! Today I shall become an author! And I will auth and auth and auth and make a squillion dollars, whoopee!”
    -Brian Jacques

    My Story Blog

  6. #6
    Dibbun T.W.'s Avatar
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    I had read several Redwall books before and fell utterly fell in love with them, but the ending of Martin the Warrior was what made the series something more. It was the first book that ever made me gasp aloud or cry at any point. Discovering Redwall at a younger age allowed it to influence me in several ways. It makes me wonder what we would be like in that alternate universe in which Redwall never existed (a rather horrid concept indeed!).

    As for the summer program, classes have kept me from working on it (and everything else other than homework) lately. Everyone's recommendations really helped me to shape it, so it's still on track to be completely planned by spring break. I was thinking of ordering some prizes from the Redwall website and also thought about shooting them an e-mail to see if they could pack it with extra bookmarks and other cool things. I still need people for reading The Great Redwall Feast, but I'm sure that will change once everything's planned.
    "In my books there is life and death. Goodies get killed as well as baddies. It’s not like Walt Disney where there are singing teapots and we all go over the hill singing bobbidy-bobbidy-boo at the end so goodies get killed as well as baddies." -Brian Jacques

  7. #7
    Patroller Schröder's Avatar
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    My first time through Redwall, I wasn't so sure, but as I kept going, I found that I really liked it. And the moment that I discovered that it was truly awesome, was in the last few chapters. The final conflict. Cluny's in the abbey, everyone is going to die, then out comes Matthias, the Guosim, and the Sparra. Matthias battling Cluny, fighting for the fate of the abbey, across the lawns to the bell tower, and the end of Cluny.

    I got in trouble because I wouldn't put the book down for that part because my dad wanted me to help him do yard work (blech).


    "Knowledge is a thing that one cannot have enough of. It is the fruit of wisdom, to be eaten carefully and digested fully..." -BJ

    “I wish to thank all the breweries who manufactured all the ale which got me so sodden drunk, that I got the inspiration to write this book.” -BJ


    Me: "Wait for it...wait for it...MARSHANK REDEMPTION!"
    My friend: "Comments section on 'Escape from Marshank'."
    Me: You've gotta spoil everything, don't ya?"
    Him: "Yup."

  8. #8
    Dibbun
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    First of all, I too greatly enjoyed reading your above piece, Schröder. Some of the phrases you wrote eulogizing Brian and Redwall really stayed with me.

    In response to Mulchior Lancer's question about a specific moment that hooked me, I can definitely say that I was deeply impressed with the scene where Log-a-Log dies in Mattimeo when I read it for the first time years ago. I just found that at some point I had placed a bookmark at that particular part where he and the missing young ones are reunited.

    I also thought this might be a good place to confess that for a time, while I was a teenager and very young adult, I was one of those people who stopped reading the books because of impressions of possible racism and too much perceived repetition. However, after some years I came back to the series. While there may not be any fantasy novel for which I would embrace every moment and aspect without reservation, my views shifted somewhat again and today the Redwall books are probably my favorite fantasy novels. I value some of the books in the latter half of the series just as much as some of the ones in the earlier half. As others have expressed above, Redwall is a special series. Brian Jacques created something that as far as I know is still incredibly unique.

  9. #9
    Patroller Mulchior Lancer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Worbee View Post
    In response to Mulchior Lancer's question about a specific moment that hooked me, I can definitely say that I was deeply impressed with the scene where Log-a-Log dies in Mattimeo when I read it for the first time years ago. I just found that at some point I had placed a bookmark at that particular part where he and the missing young ones are reunited.

    I also thought this might be a good place to confess that for a time, while I was a teenager and very young adult, I was one of those people who stopped reading the books because of impressions of possible racism and too much perceived repetition. However, after some years I came back to the series. While there may not be any fantasy novel for which I would embrace every moment and aspect without reservation, my views shifted somewhat again and today the Redwall books are probably my favorite fantasy novels. I value some of the books in the latter half of the series just as much as some of the ones in the earlier half. As others have expressed above, Redwall is a special series. Brian Jacques created something that as far as I know is still incredibly unique.
    That's a great part in Mattimeo. I confess, Mattimeo can be a hard read for me, just with all the suffering Mattimeo and co experience while captured by Slagar, but the reunion is a wonderful resolution to all of that. Log-a-Log's death, too, is quite sad, considering everything he and Matthias went through.

    And I don't begrudge anyone who has a problem with the strict line Brian made with making some species good and some bad and raising an eyebrow to it. What I tire of is when people stay fixated on it and trash the series over it, ignoring all of the good in the books.
    “Aha! Today I shall become an author! And I will auth and auth and auth and make a squillion dollars, whoopee!”
    -Brian Jacques

    My Story Blog

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