Brian Jacques died on saturday. For me and a great many of my generation, he opened our eyes to a level of storytelling that we had no idea existed. The Redwall series was, for most of us, the very first introduction to a wide range of very adult literary themes. The Triumph of good over evil. War. Moral responsibility. A very tangible, interactive sense of the creation and meaning of myth. An aspect of his writing that was new to me at the time was the use of multiple subplots and side stories with many of them featuring characters utilizing puzzle solving. These were also the first stories most of us read that featured a realistic depiction of death. Be it from natural causes, in war or by murder. The acts were described in a level of detail that at the time was unnerving but also exciting because it was something I had never experienced before. Words were making me feel. Not just the basic surface emotions, the more complicated ones that make you physically feel. My stomach felt uneasy and no matter how strange it seemed I knew that I wanted to feel this feeling. I wanted something brutal to make me feel queasy. I wanted something heroic to make me feel inspired. I wanted something pure to make me cry. I wanted something that sounded delicious to make me hungry. One part of the redwall series that has most stuck with me over the years would have to be Jacques habit of obsessively describing food with such detail and love that you could almost taste it yourself.
Before these books I had never cared about a fictional character before. I had never waited in anticipation to find out what they would uncover next. I had never cried when they died. I have since done all of those things with countless characters in countless mediums.
Thank you Brian Jacques. I hope that at this moment, You, Abbess Germaine, Constance the Badger and Martin the Warrior and walking together through the halls of Salamandastron. I hope you know what you meant to me. I hope that you know that you were the first of many to make me realize at such a young age, and never forget, what it is I love more than anything else in this life. Stories.