07 February 2011

Brian Jacques and Death

This morning I read of Brian Jacques’s death at age seventy-one. I didn’t grow up with his animal-adventure novels, and they proved to be hit-or-miss for me. I enjoyed his audio production of Redwall, with Jacques himself among the heavily-accented performers, but couldn’t finish his Castaways of the Flying Dutchman.

One lesson has stuck with me, however. Chapter 2 of Redwall introduces the story’s villain, a rat named Cluny. (As in other modern British fantasies, the villain is from the Continent, with a particularly Gallic tinge.) The chapter tells us—Jacques was a great one for telling—that Cluny killed the pike who injured his eye. Cluny killed the ferret whose skull tops his standard. Within a few more chapters, Cluny’s cart rolls over two of his own followers.

Jacques thus sets out the stakes for Redwall. This book about little talking animals isn’t cute. It isn’t afraid to draw blood. The battle for Redwall Abbey will be a battle for life and death.


Ms. Yingling said...

I had to e mail some parents with the news, because I knew that some of the huge fans would be upset and I didn't have the heart to tell them myself.

J. L. Bell said...

Philomel says there will be one more Redwall book from Jacques this May.

Though I wouldn’t be surprised if his estate licenses more titles. The series seems to have that sort of universe and following.