Petersen, David. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152.

Fort Lee, NJ: Archaia Studios Press, 2007.

I’m unfamiliar with this artist/author and his work, but this seems to be intended as the first in a series. The premise is a culture of anthropomorphic mice living in a fantasy land that resembles medieval Europe, and the color art is very nice, but Petersen is a better visualist than writer.

The focus is on the adventures of a group of sword-swinging “guardsmice,” who were formed as an army but now serve as scouts and lawmen. Specifically, they seem to be concerned with the testy relations between a town (all the buildings are half-timbered) and a castle (with crenellated walls, though the mice don’t seem to possess archery). Actually, the plot is hard to follow since there’s no back-story to speak of and there are frequent gaps in the narrative.

But there are other problems. Trades among the mice include human things like carpentry and glassblowing and cartography, but nothing mouse-related. They appear to be food-gatherers, not hunters and not farmers, and yet they produce warriors, which is psychologically and sociologically unreasonable. (Not to mention that the invention of town-building was a direct result of the agricultural revolution.) There are no lesser creatures filling the role of stock animals, nor are there any other intelligent animals — no foxes or stoats or badgers with clothing or weapons. There are threats from snakes and crabs and such — but these are just large “animals,” acting as they do in our own world. The result is that the mice of this world are really just people in rodent suits. So, while the art is admirable in itself, I can’t see a lot a point to the book as a whole.

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Published in: on 29 June 2013 at 8:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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