English author Brian Jacques, whose bestselling Redwall series provided a gateway into worlds of fantasy and myth for many a child throughout the years, died over the weekend of a heart attack. He was 71.
Jacques’ first Redwall book was published in 1986, introducing a world of talking mice, badgers, voles, and the like who were tasked with protecting their peaceful woodland home from invading rats and weasels, as well as various “monsters” such as snakes and eels. Over the course of 21 official Redwall novels (a 22nd is due in May) and many ancillary collections filled with maps and trivia, Jacques unfolded an epic tale of heroism told in especially vivid language—owing to their origin as stories for children at the Royal Wavertree School for the Blind, where Jacques had spent time as a milk deliveryman—that captured the imagination of even the very young, many of whom became lifelong devotees. In addition to the Redwall books, Jacques wrote the three-novel Castaways Of The Flying Dutchman series, published the short-story collections Seven Strange And Ghostly Tales and The Ribbajack And Other Curious Yarns, and worked with illustrator Alexi Natchev on the Urso Brunov picture books. His final Redwall novel, The Rogue Crew, will be released on May 3.