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David Petersen – Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, Winter 1152, and Legends of the Guard Vol. 1

September 14, 2012

99, 100, & 102. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, and Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, Vol. 1 by David Petersen (2007, 2008, 2010)
Mouse Guard, Volumes 1, 2, & short story anthology

Length: 192, 192, & 144 pages
Genre: Graphic Novels, Fantasy, Young Adult(?)

Started/Finished: 06, 07, & 08 September 2012

Where did it come from? From the library.
Why do I have it? Recommended by the friend from whom I get most of my comics recommendations.

Heart of a lion,
packed in the tiny bodies
of mice of the Guard.

Summary: Mice are small, and although they are safe in their cities and settlements, the lands between are wide and perilous with predators. Luckily, a mouse’s courage, steadfastness, and sense of duty is not proportional to their size, and the Mouse Guard stand ready to protect travelers, defend the borders, safeguard the paths, and the defend the interests of mice.

In Fall 1152, three of the Guard’s finest – Lieam, Kenzie, and Saxon – are out on a routine patrol when they come across a missing peddler, a terrible beast, and, what’s worse, evidence of a conspiracy that threatens the heart of the Mouse Guard’s own stronghold.

In Winter 1152, the Guard is still recovering from the events of the fall. Supplies of food and medicine are low, and the weather has turned bitter. The heroes of the last book, along with a Guardmouse named Sadie, and a greyfur named Celanawe who claims to be the Black Axe of legend – set out on a vital mission to gather medicine and summon the leaders of the towns to a diplomatic meeting. But things go badly wrong, with hungry predators and a dangerous detour through the abandoned tunnels of some of the Guard’s greatest enemies.

Legends of the Guard is an anthology that centers around a tavern contest in which patrons compete to tell the best story, in the hopes of having their bar tab cleared. The framework story is written and drawn by Petersen, but the individual tales are written and drawn by a variety of artists.

Review: Well, consider me thoroughly charmed. (Charmed enough even to forget how fast and loose Petersen played with the biology. Seriously, every time the characters were all “Well, it’s getting dark, we’d better make camp” I’d cringe a little. Mice are nocturnal!) These books are (unsurprisingly) very cute, but they’ve also got a dark streak to them. Nothing that would make them inappropriate for YA audiences (although I think the somewhat formal, archaic language would make them inaccessible to younger kids), but sufficiently darker than a lot of the more juvenile animal stories I’ve come across. They’ve got very real danger, they’ve got excitement and action and honor and loyalty and sense of duty and all of that good stuff.

I was initially not very impressed with the depth of the characterization. However, I think that was because I had a hard time telling the characters apart in the first volume, especially in situations with low lighting, or when I couldn’t see the colors of their cloaks. I had a much easier time telling the characters apart – and thus thought the characterizations were better – as the series went on. I particularly thought Celanawe’s story was very affecting, and had some interesting (if not amazingly novel) things to say about what it means to be a hero. I also thought the second volume had some excellently creepy scenes and panels. Apart from a lot of the mice looking pretty similar, the artwork is absolutely beautiful, detailed and evocative of the wider world of the mice and their culture and civilization.

I particularly enjoyed the Legends of the Guard volume. It was reminiscent of some of the parts I liked most about House of Mystery, and I really enjoyed seeing all of the authors’ takes on the Guard’s world. I particularly liked that the stories had different tones, some funny, some tragic, some from the distant past, some staring characters with which we’re familiar, some text-heavy, some entirely in pictures – but all feeling true to the world. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: It’s got a kind of medieval, Robin Hood-esque feel to it, but honestly, I think even people who aren’t fans of that sort of thing will be charmed by this series.

Mouse Guard, Fall 1152: Review on LibraryThing | Book on LibraryThing | Amazon
Mouse Guard, Winter 1152: Review on LibraryThing | Book on LibraryThing | Amazon
Mouse Guard, Legends of the Guard: Review on LibraryThing | Book on LibraryThing | Amazon

Other Reviews: Bart’s Bookshelf (Fall), Bart’s Bookshelf (Winter), Beth Fish Reads (Fall), Books and Other Thoughts (Fall), In Spring it is the Dawn (Winter), Sasha & the Silverfish (Fall), Stainless Steel Droppings (Fall), Things Mean a Lot (Fall)
Have you reviewed any of these books? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

© 2012 Fyrefly’s Book Blog. All Rights Reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than Fyrefly’s Book Blog or its RSS feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is being used without permission.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2012 8:23 am

    I don’t read much fantasy but just might like it like this!

    • September 17, 2012 9:37 am

      Kathy – Animal stories sort of get classed under fantasy by default, but they’re not really fantasy in the magic and elves sort of way. Give ’em a try!

  2. September 14, 2012 11:40 pm

    My boys and I all loved the first two in the series – but haven’t picked up Legends of the Guard yet – thanks for the reminder!

    • September 17, 2012 9:41 am

      Carrie – You’re welcome! I need to ask my library to preorder The Black Axe…

  3. September 16, 2012 5:52 am

    Can’t wait for the next one.


  1. David Petersen – Mouse Guard: The Black Axe | Fyrefly's Book Blog
  2. M. T. Anderson – Yvain: The Knight of the Lion | Fyrefly's Book Blog

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