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Mouse Guard : Fall 1152 Hardcover – July 21, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Here's a distinct comic book image: mice with capes and swords defending themselves against their predators as if they were the Knights of the Round Table. It's a gimmick, but one that Petersen plays completely straight. His art is a perfect mix of the realistic and the fantastic: the mice and other animals always look realistic no matter how adventurous the situations get, including facing snakes and crabs in the first two chapters. Petersen doesn't let things get overly cute, either. These mice are fierce, dedicated fighters, and the violence their job entails is not forgotten. While the book always looks good, the story is pretty thin. The action is never boring but in the beginning it never moves the plot forward. Soon a plot about a traitor in the guard kicks in, leading to some exciting moments covered too briefly, and the character development is thin as well. Luckily, the art makes up for the storytelling shortcomings—Petersen's character designs are enormously appealing, and the book is hard to put down for that reason. The story is suitable for all ages, and kids in particular should enjoy this adventure. (Apr.)
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The Mouse Guard protects its fellow creatures and patrols the passageways used between the villages of the Mouse Territories. In this tale, three members of the guard investigate the disappearance of a traveling grain merchant. During their quest for the truth, the three uncover a plot to attack Lockhaven, the home of the guard; fight hungry snakes; escape a fiery death; and find a long-lost hero. Petersen has crafted an involving graphic-novel fantasy, populated with realistic-looking mice wearing colorful capes and wielding wicked weaponry. His lush colors and vivid settings give the story a majestic quality fit for a large canvas (or, perhaps, even a movie screen), and the characters are as bold as the brush strokes. The story line is, however, weaker than the art, which keeps the book from being truly great. Even so, this will probably circulate well among graphic-novel fans and may even attract readers who enjoy the Redwall books. King, Kevin
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Top Customer Reviews
I have a 6 year old girl and a 5 year old boy. They were both absolutely taken by the combination of me telling the story, and they looking at the drawings. They couldn't wait to have another chapter (six chapters in each book, 12 in total, if I recall). Bedtime became a very special moment. The kids were thrilled every night by the ritual of us three sitting in bed to be taken, together, through another chapter.
It's been 3 months since I read them the two books in sequence. Do you know what is interesting? They still recall the name of all major characters -- Kenzie, Saxon, Celanawe, Gwendolyn, Sadie... no small feat, considering that neither of my kids is a native English speaker, and that the names sounded just as random as Pokemon names to them. I read from the English edition, but did real time translation of the dialogues, while telling the story. That made it even more personal for all of us.
If you are the author reading this, many thanks for your work, congratulations for a great job. We can't wait for the next book.
The story, as others have stated here, is a little light when it comes to depth. The characters aren't developed as fully as I'd hoped they'd be, and neither was the plot. It is a rather simple story that even children should be able to follow. That doesn't make it bad. It just makes for a book that doesn't quite capture the grown-up themes that many adults who are fans of these types of adventure stories are looking for. For instance, "The Mice Templar" series is an adult-oriented book with characters, story/plot, and ideas that are both deeper and more fully-realized. Its world is also much more Tolkienesque in its detail and rich history. Having said that, however, the violence in "The Mice Templar" is MUCH more graphic, and therefore really not appropriate for children. "Mouse Guard", on the other hand, contains SOME violence, but nothing too violent or bloody(there really isn't much blood) for children who are at least around 8 years old. Do not be put-off by this, however, if you are an adult. The book does have a children's book feel to it, but that really just adds to its charm. The concepts are not difficult to understand, but they do have meaning(which are lessons that can be applied to the life of a person of any age). Bottom line is that I really enjoyed the story, the characters, and the world(which I didn't mean to insinuate had no depth or history at all- because it does) in which they dwell. It's a fun adventure story. One more thing I will add concerning the story is that although one could categorize it as fantasy due to the fact that it is about talking mice and their fictional world, I felt it was more like a medieval adventure story that happens to include anthropomorphic characters and a made-up environment(closer to the "Redwall" series than "The Lord of the Rings" and such). There is no magic here, and there are no species/creatures that dwell in this land that do not actually exist in our real world(unlike "The Mice Templar", which as you can tell, I am very familiar with- it's my favorite series of all-time!). So it is and it isn't fantasy. It just depends on what kind of fantasy you're looking for, and what your definition of a fantasy story is. I guess I do consider it fantasy. It just lacks certain elements that I see as "true fantasy". Even if you don't consider it fantasy(which it is to me on some level), it is still really cool and should appeal to any fan of medieval adventure stories.
It's Peterson's artwork that really makes this book beautiful. His style is realistic yet remeniscent of the kind of artwork one would see in a children's book. The mice and other creatures, as well as the environments, are both true to their real-life counterparts and cute in their animation. I really loved this about it! The color scheme is just fantastic. The reds and purples(among other hues) really grab you and thrust you into this world. They are so inviting, I could sit and stare at these drawings for hours(which I have!). I can't say enough good things about how magnificent the art is. You really have to sit down and look at it to appreciate it for all its splendor.
Finally, I'd like to comment on how nice the book itself is. It's about as well-made as a hardcover can be. The binding is great, the pages are thick and glossy, and the dust jacket is really nice. I also loved the shape. It's a square. Haven't seen many square graphic novels in my time. I really dig it! Also, there are some really nice extras in here(maps, pin-ups, a section about the cultural aspects of the mice, etc.) This really is a book you should get if you like anthropomorphic adventure stories. Although I would recommend "The Mice Templar" to anyone looking for a story that is more in line with something Tolkien would have written, I would still recommend this to anyone who likes the genre. It is nicely written, makes excellent use of the page in terms of artwork, and is something that should appeal to the kid in all of us. This is one fun read. And I've read vol.2, as well as the "Legends of the Guard" book, and I can tell you now that the world and characters who dwell there really do start to become deeper. And the story/stories become more epic as the series progresses. This volume doesn't have the most depth by itself, but when combined with the other volumes(and there are more on the way), I only see this series getting grander and grander with time. So don't delay and grab all 3 current volumes if you can. They're worth it. 4 and 1/2 stars!
Originally published as 6 separate comics, I initially felt that the story was played out better in that serial format. On my first reading of the collected edition, there didn't seem to be too much meat to the actual story. I thought that the collected edition actually hampered the story-telling process, as each individual issue would have had a month or 2 break to whet the appetites of those reading for the next installment. However, as I've gone back on several more occasions to revisit the lands of Mouse Guard, I can honestly say that the story has grown on me, and I can see the subtleties both in Petersen's story as well as his artwork.
The artwork on Mouse Guard Fall 1152 is stunning. Handling all art chores himself, Petersen has created a beautifully rendered and colored world, with an almost hand-painted yet organic feel to the entire story.
Taken as a whole, the entire book is quite an achievement. I'm anxiously awaiting the release of its sequel, Winter 1152.