Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 - David Petersen *4.7 Stars*

Scorecard: (Out of 10)
* Quality of Writing - 9
* Pace - 8
* Plot development - 10
* Characters - 9
* Enjoyability - 10
* Insightfulness - 9
* Ease of Reading - 10
* Photos/Illustrations - 10
Final Score: 75/80 = 94%

*The Gush*

I will be the first to admit that I love anthropomorphic stories such as Redwall, Castle Waiting, and Dinotopia, to name just a few. However, I believe even people less than thrilled with ‘talking animals’ will find this first book in the Mouse Guard series to be a gorgeous and exciting graphic novel. This is not An American Tale where the mice sing, dance around, and look…not terribly like mice. I like that movie, but it is not anywhere close to realistic. Redwall and its sequels come close to any sort of ‘realism’ but Mouse Guard has a feel of gritty reality to it. The mice look like mice, they live rather more like mice, and they fight off not magical beings but snakes and owls and other predators they face in real life. Most of the mice wear little clothing, mostly cloaks, and the weapons look rough and actually forged by real smiths. The combination of the mice looking realistic and the clothing and weapons looking real and relevant for the time makes it easier to accept the talking, city building, etc.

The plot of this particular book is in many ways an excellent introduction to the world Petersen has created. While the reader does learn a great deal about the government and system the mice have created, you learn of it through conflict, which means a large amount of information can be delivered quickly and you see it working as the enemy tries to tear it down. You get a look at the setting that is deeper than simply handing you the information in a mere introductory way. Focusing the story on three of the guard further aids the book because the reader grows attached to them, roots for them, and waits with bated breath to discover their fate.

The illustrations are…exceptional. One really can’t describe how beautiful and yet simplistic and functional they are. You truthfully need few words as the pictures paint a vivid story. Because they are realistic, there are times where the drawings are…close to graphic though I would say they never cross the line to actually become graphic or disturbing. However, they are mice and they do fight things that want to eat them. Just pointing this out. One of the best parts of the illustrations if how even in close up views, you never forget how small these creatures are compared to the world around them. You clearly feel how courageous they are not because they chose to be but because they have to be to survive.

*The Rant*

I have little to say here other than the book was entirely too short and leaves you desperate to find out what happens next.

I strongly suggest any graphic novel fan check out this remarkable book as well as any person interested in comic books as more than just concerning superheroes. There are many books out currently that show graphic novels as a serious art form as well as an excellent narrative tool. I would place Mouse Guard among these. It helps that it is also extremely fun to read.