I am the Teller of Tales,
Gaze into the fire with me,
For I know of the Badger Lords,
And their mountain, by the sea.
‘Tis a fearsome warrior,
Full of fate and destiny,
Who followed dreams, along strange paths,
Unknown to such as we.
This Badger Lord was fearless,
As all who followed him knew,
And the haremaid he befriended,
Why, she was as young as you!
But no less bold or courageous,
Full of valour and strong of heart,
Aye, young ‘uns like you, good and true,
May stand to take their part.
So here is my story, may it bring
Some smiles, and a tear or so,
It happened, once upon a time,
Far away, and long ago.
Outside the night wind keens and wails,
come listen to me, the Teller of Tales.
(This is a joint post by Jen and Lisa).
Jen: I was terribly sad this morning to learn that Brian Jacques passed away Saturday morning. His books were such a big part of my childhood that throughout the day, I kept catching myself reminiscing about my Redwall days. How I would stay up well past my bedtime whenever I got hold of a new installment from the library. How pleased I was when I finally learned to understand mole-speak on my first read-over. Most of all, how I wanted to visit Redwall, so welcoming and full of warmth and wit, where visitors are greeted with a ready song. And the food. Oh, the food! Once, I dreamed I was at a celebratory feast, the vividly glorious vittles spread before me. Only I never got to find out how any of it tasted because I woke up mid-bite into a woodland trifle topped with meadowcream. My love for Redwall extends beyond the stories: that courage comes in all shapes and sizes and that kindness and decency are worth defending, despite the costs. I think I owe my friendship with Lisa to Mr. Jacques; we gelled over Constance, Samkin, Dippler, Midge Manycoats and countless other characters, phrases, and inside jokes which have stayed with us over the years. Eleven years ago, we had the privilege of meeting Mr. Jacques at a bookstore when he was on tour. We almost didn’t get to see him, but he decided to stay past the hour so none of the kids went home disappointed, even though he was running behind schedule. He even graciously answered our questions, even though he’d probably heard them countless times. (We asked for a Redwall cookbook, and lo and behold!) What a lovely, lively man.
Lisa: I too spent many hours in Mossflower Country, wandering the wildlands with heroic creatures and dreaming of attending the abbey feasts (I became a fan of scones after reading Martin the Warrior–my introduction to the series). I loved the books for their adventure and humor, and I remember well the sense of danger that added to their credibility. I began every book knowing that some of the good characters would perish before the end; because of that, Redwall Abbey seemed all the more precious and real. It became less of an idyllic utopia and more a community where creatures struggled to live in peace. I admired their courage in the fight against injustice. I envied their treks over strange oceans and mountains—though perhaps not the deadly encounters with waterfalls or flesh-eating creatures. In every story heroes are born, sacrifices are made, riddles are solved and friendships forged. More often than not, the books ended in feasts of celebration and remembrance. Their tranquil existence was hard-won, and more valuable because it was never taken for granted. This is what kept me riveted to the end, and I will be returning many times over to the world of Redwall.
Rest in peace, dear Teller of Tales. We will miss you and remember you through your stories.