Apr 15, 2008

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 by David Petersen

This comic book series, of which Fall 1152 is the first collected volume, is about a society of sentient mice living in a medieval-like era. This is a world full of dangers, and vulnerable creatures such as mice must constantly remain alert. In this first volume, we are introduced to Liem, Kenzie and Saxon, three members of the Mouse Guard. The Mouse Guard is responsible for the peace and safety of the kingdom, and, as it turns out, this role is now more important than ever. When investigating the disappearance of a grain merchant, the three nice discover signs of the existence of a traitor, and end up uncovering a conspiracy that could lead to civil war. Along the way, the three mice discover the truth behind a legend, and find help in unexpected places.

The story told in this collection is brief, but full of adventure and suspense all the same. It’s a fine introduction to a very well-developed, rich and complex world. I liked how, at the beginning of each chapter, a little bit of mouse literature or lore was quoted. I also liked that a lot of background stories were hinted at, adding to the depth of the world David Petersen created. Plus, there was a section at the end called “Maps, Guides and Assorted Extras” full of details that helped me understand the kind of society these characters live in.

The story told in Mouse Guard is a good one, but what really conquered me was the art. It’s absolutely stunning, and it resembles nothing I’ve seen before. It made me want to dive into this world and lose myself in it. Actually, I shouldn’t be separating the storytelling and the art, because they are completely entangled. There are several long sequences of panels without a single word, and they tell the story gracefully and effectively. Comics work, after all, very differently from illustrated novels.

Don’t be fooled by the cuteness of the members of the Mouse Guard. Cute they may be, but they are fierce warriors all the same. And the general tone of the story is ominous and dark. The world these characters inhabit is harsh and unfriendly. The Mouse Guard has not only to defend their fellow mice from natural predators, but also to deal with the more unsettling danger of conspiracies and betrayal.

As often happen with the first volume of a series, Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 feels very much like an introduction. There are things that hint at the unique personalities of each character, but there’s much room left for further character and plot development. I anxiously await the release of Mouse Guard: Winter 1152.

More of David Petersen’s gorgeous artwork can be seen at the official Mouse Guard website.

Reviewed at:
Bart's Bookshelf
Books & Other Thoughts
Stainless Steel Droppings
Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Beth Fish Reads
In Spring it is the Dawn
Libri Touches


  1. I've been dying to read this one ever since Carl reviewed it way back when. I love the art...like you said, it's so different than anything else in graphic novels and so detailed and rich. I'll get to it one of these days...

  2. At first glance of the cover, I thought it's a picture book. I love the cover anyway, and the art is great!!

  3. Nice review Nymeth. It does feel like an introduction. It wasn't until the final pages of this one that the story grabbed me and made me like the whole thing. It is certainly something I wouldn't want to read issue to issue. I think it generates the right emotional tone being able to read it like this. The art is simply stunning and I want the little PVC figures that go with this so bad. They are darling...can't believe I didn't buy them at last weekend's comic convention. Bad me! I certainly recommend this series and look forward to volume 2.

  4. How could I pass up reading a story about " a society of sentient mice living in a medieval-like era. " Sounds like a lot of fun!!

    Nice review!

  5. wow, I don't remember reading Carls review on this one.. i looked it up on Amazon.. there are quite a few of the books there..not cheap either!! Collectively they sound like a good read.

  6. This looks fantastic! And little PVC figures, too, says Carl? Awww. Maybe I can get some for my kids and then play with them while the kids are at school... :-)

    I hadn't even heard of this book, so on the list it goes. Thanks for the review and also the pictures of the amazing artwork.

  7. Awww, the drawings are cute! Looks like a very interesting read.

  8. I LOVE the Mouse Guard series, the whole concept has been so richly developed and presented that it makes you want to go for a visit and stay awhile . . . you should check out the anthology that David Peterson and Jeremy Bastian collaborated on - "Ye Olde Lore of Yore", DP supplies two stories about a little mouse-like faerie creature named Fir Darrig - it's a little darker than Mouse Guard, but it has a similar feel.

  9. Chris: I'd been dying to read it since then too. You need to get it someday indeed - I'm sure you'll enjoy it!

    Melody: The whole thing looks very much like a picture book in some ways, actually. The art is so rich and detailed, and the use of colour is amazing!

    Carl: The PVC figures are so adorable! I want to get them sometime too. And yes, I completely agree about reading this issue by issue..it's funny, I read some reviews that said that the issues worked perfectly as short stories, but I really don't agree. They become much more powerful when put together.

    Stephanie: It is a lot of fun :)

    Deslily: Buying the whole collection is much less pricey that getting the individual issues, and like Carl said, reading them together is better too!

    Darla: lol! I think I'd be tempted to play with them too. And there are plushes as well!

    Lightheaded: Aren't they? It was a quick but great read. When I was done I went back to the start to look at the art some more, of course :P

    Ken: I had no idea that anthology existed - thanks! It sounds great. Mouse-like faerie creature? Darker? I'm completely sold.

  10. This looks fabulous. I grew up with the Redwall books, so love the idea of a mouse society complete with warriors! And what beautiful art work. Yet another book to buy when I get home!

  11. Like Mariel I grew up with the Redwall books and love the idea of mice having their own society. I like the idea of the mouse lore at the beginning of the chapters. It looks beautiful and you seem to have a think for comic book mice lately!

  12. Mariel: I haven't read the Redwall series but I really want to sometime...it sounds great!

    Rhinoa: Yep, first Maus and now this :P Very different mice, though, but still :P I have to read the Redwall books!

  13. Like Chris, I've been wanting to read this since Carl's review...and now, well, I want to read it even more!

  14. Debi, you'll enjoy it for sure!

  15. This sounds an awful lot like Redwall, my son's favorite series. I'll have to get it for him for a surprise!

  16. Dewey, I hope your son enjoys it!


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