It was a long time back. I was browsing through one of those book exhibitions at the Institute of Engineers Hall, looking for overlooked bargains and interesting-looking titles. My eye was caught by an unusual-looking cover in the Fantasy section:
The blurb talked about a badger leading an animal army to a victory against an assassin weasel. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I read a couple of pages right there and was hooked immediately.
It turned out to be the best purchase from that exhibition. Brian Jacques‘ style was very visual, and the world he created, of Redwall Abbey and the small anthropomorphic animals that populate it, was mesmerizing. I found out later that Jacques was a milk delivery man to a school for the blind, and he began to spend time with the kids. When he began writing, it was for these same blind students, which explained his descriptive style.
Salamandastron wasn’t his only book – it was part of a series based around Redwall Abbey, featuring the same recurring characters, and the series made him a legend. The mice, badgers, moles and other animals in the Redwall universe walk and talk like humans and have swashbuckling medieval adventures. Although the books were originally targeted for children, people of all ages have enjoyed these stories – the books have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and been translated into 28 languages!
At Tender Leaves, we have several of Jacques’s books, and would like to pay a tribute to the writer who created a unique genre with his writing. He passed away a few days back, spurring heartfelt tributes from fans all over.