Right, a trip down memory lane today as Mr. Wapojif reminisces about the books he read as a kid and teenager. Brian Jacques‘ excellent Redwall series. These are fantasy novels based around anthropomorphic creatures, which featured some 22 titles in all before Jacques sadly passed away in early 2011.
Now you might think from the front cover on the left it’s a gung-ho series for young boys. Whilst this is partially true, it’s totally accessible for girls. Why? As the Redwall world is a marvellously liberal society where female characters are as autonomous and prevalent as males. Indeed, many of the books focus entirely on strong female protagonists, and antagonists, in a completely natural way.
Brian Jacques’ Redwall Series
There’s nothing forced about Jacques’ lively writing, which is still refreshing to this day. Equality, then, is at the heart of the stories and young ‘uns will learn many life lessons from the series. We sure did. For instance, we now know never to trust a weasel. Damn corrupt and slippery gits!
Typically the stories centre around the concept of Goodies and Baddies. The former are represented mainly by the likes of mice, rabbits, hares, and badgers*. The latter are usually rats, stoats, ferrets, foxes, and weasels, and this lot usually hatch some dastardly plan to plunder the world of the morally sound. You’ll find this to be the case in the likes of Martin The Warrior, Mattimeo (an exceptionally dramatic tale), Mariel of Redall, and Mossflower. These being good starting places (the series doesn’t follow any official timescale – you can begin wherever).
Now the books are brutal, be warned, as they’re based around resolving bitter conflicts. Jacques doesn’t spare any gritty details: war is war – it’s bloody, hellish, and unfair, which makes the novels an educational and inspiring account of how to be a good human being (or mouse, if you are a mouse). Young lads will no doubt love this stuff (Mr. Wapojif sure did), but there’s a message behind each and every battle. Unlike sitting there blasting stuff away on Call of Duty.
Ultimately, if you’ve got a child on the brink of teenage years (or you have the brain of a teenager) we can highly recommend the Redwall series. They’d complement anyone’s Harry Potter bookshelf terrifically. We’ve not read any Harry Potter books, but we’re sure Redwall would delight as much, so consider this a free tip to keep your little sprogs quiet whilst you binge watch Breaking Bad on Netflix. Yo.