I've mentioned before the the Redwall series was a huge part of my life growing up. With twenty-two books in the series, it's no surprise that after about book 10, they all start blurring together. I have vague remembrances of enjoying one more than another, but in general the stories were always pretty solid, if not memorable. There is one exception in this series, and ever since my first time reading it (and upon many, many rereads of this series) it has always stood out as my absolute favourite book of the lot.
Martin the Warrior is the sixth book in the Redwall Series, and it is the first time we go back to the history of the world Brian Jacques has set up. In the previous books, you hear constant mentions of Martin the Warrior as a true hero to almost mythic proportions. In the previous books it's been years (from what I recall it's basically at least a century), and it doesn't matter how far down the generations the books have taken us, Martin the Warrior remains a strong part of their history. So when I discovered that we'd finally get to hear about this Martin fellow I was pleasantly surprised as it was a new twist to how the series had been progressing (aka, chronologically).
This book has everything that I've come to realize that I expect in a fantasy novel to be worthy of my favourites shelf. It's got heartbreak and tragedy, but humour and love, platonic and romantic relationships, epic worldbuilding (and food porn!), complex relationships...it's amazing. I'm not expecting anyone who hasn't read this story to read it, but in the interest of not spoiling it anyway, BEWARE SPOILERS.
Martin's main love interest is killed and my guess is that it was probably the first time I'd had a main character/love interest die (although Charlotte's Web may have happened before this, so who knows. But definitely the love interest dying bit.) It was one of the only times in the series that a main character dies, and I was absolutely heart broken when I finished this book. I always find that the books I found as a child that were more than just a happy story are the ones I was really drawn to. (Hmm. Maybe this is why I am so morbid?)
And now I think I'm going to start rereading these books...I'm getting nostalgic haha