I discovered this beautifully illustrated book from Nymeth's irresistible review last April. I'd never heard of it, but after reading her review and descriptions of the amazing artwork, I immediately requested it from my library, and I'm very glad I did! And so this is my second book for the Irresistible Review Challenge. Thanks, Nymeth!
Mice are in constant danger from predators, and the mouse society depicted in the book has formed an elite group of mouse protectors called the Mouse Guard. They defeated a weasel warlord several years earlier, and now that relative safety has been established, the role of the Guard has changed. Instead of soldiers, they have become escorts, bodyguards, weather watchers and pathfinders. Their purpose, as ever, is to protect the towns and citizens of their community.
The story opens with a little mouse traveling alone, taking his store of grain to sell at a nearby village. He sits down to have a rest and awakens to find an ominous shadow falling across him. Cut to three of the Mouse Guard who have been summoned to search for the missing grain peddler. They do indeed track him down, but among his belongings they find evidence that the mouse was a spy. Determined to discover who is behind the treacherous plot, the mice work together to investigate the peddler and his past, braving all kinds of dangers in their search for the truth.
I was captivated by the gorgeous illustrations of this book. The text is often spare, allowing the pictures to convey much of the story on their own. It often gave me the feeling of reading a wordless picture book, making me slow down and immerse myself in the artwork. I'm so text oriented that slowing down and spending time with the illustrations does not come easily to me, but I always find it a rewarding experience, particularly so with this book. The mice are adorable, but at the same time so fierce and brave, battling enormous serpents and gigantic crabs, and lives are sadly lost in these combats.
I enjoyed the story, which was straightforward and full of action and adventure, but it was not until the end of the book and its epilogue, told from the point of view of Gwendolyn, the head of the mouse guard, that I felt a personal connection with a character. Gwendolyn's words made me see the other (heretofore interchangeable) mice through her eyes, and it was then that they took on more sympathetic, personal qualities. It made me wish there had been a section at the beginning of the book from Gwendolyn's point of view. Still, it has made me look forward to reading the next installment in the series, which takes place the following winter, so I can follow the further adventures of these valiant, adorable little mice.
Books in the Mouse Guard series:
1. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152
2. Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 (forthcoming - December 2008)
For more information (and to see more gorgeous illustrations) about the Mouse Guard series, check out their official site.
Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Petersen (ASP Comics, 2007)
Also reviewed at:
Bookshelves of Doom