Terrouge E-zine Archives
Erin's Editorial - Brian Jacques at His Finest
A large pizza. Two bottles of your favorite soft drink. Pretzels, chips, and dip. These are the customary components of your modernday 'feast'. Quite a difference from the lavish spreads the denizens of Mossflower have become accustomed to, isn't it?
The Redwallers obviously wouldn't be eating pizza or drinking soda, but the intricate woodland fare Brian Jacques has designed for them instead is not the most obvious translation. But it is an important part of his magnificent talent for a convincing setting. Would Redwall really have the same feel to it if its residents dined only on bread and cheese, and drank simple juices and water? I think not. The variety of complex foods-strawberry cordial, meadowcream, and deeper'n'ever pie, just to name a few-show the prosperity of Mossflower country as well as the generousity and cheerful spirit of its inhabitants, all without a word being spoken. Vermin, by contrast, drink water and grog, and eat roasted bird and fish. (That is, they do when their food is edible at all.) Wouldn't you expect, not knowing anything else about these creatures, for them to be rough, ill-nourished, and bad tempered? Truly, a sign of a good author.
The homes Mr. Jacques chooses for his characters speak volumes as well. The cruel, harsh Emperor Ublaz, and his cold and sinister minions, the monitor lizards, live on a small unwooded island, with few resources. The sentinel badgers and hares of Salamandastron live in the only mountain between above a vast flatlands and the open sea. Would you really think the same of them if they lived in a stone fort on the plain? Or even if Salamandastron was one mountain in the midst of a mountain range? The idea of a lone height mixes well with our vision of them as a watch against evil, and its situation in the plains makes its many hares not only believable denizens, but appropriate ones. The living place of each group in the books complements that group's species, as well as their task.
It has long been established that Brian Jacques is a master of storytelling. No one will refute his talent in riddling poems. And who could doubt the talent of a mind from which sprung such characters as Basil Stag Hare? But I think it is high time we appreciated his not insignificant talents in creating setting as well.