Mouse Guard: Legends of The Guard by David Petersen

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Mouse Guard: Legends of The Guard by David Petersen

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Buy Mouse Guard: Legends of The Guard by David Petersen at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: Multiple entries into the world of warring rodents, with more than enough charm, inventive illustrations, and surprising tales to flag this series up as well worth investigation.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: January 2011
Publisher: Titan Books
ISBN: 978-0857681423

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To start with, I have never heard of Mr Petersen and his Mouse Guard franchise. But I'm often up for an introduction to a fantasy cycle, and I always relish being welcomed to an author by the most esoteric, unusual, quirky and short route. My first entry to the His Dark Materials world was a collector's spin-off, and I'm just as likely to start the Twilight series, if ever, with the latest brief whimsy. And for those of a similar mind-set, this collection of tales from the pens of guest writers and illustrators, serves as an odd-shaped doorway on to this particular universe.

And the obvious response to the book is how much of it was deliriously unnecessary. Petersen didn't need to wrap each and every short tale up a la Chaucer with a tavern full of resting mice hoping to settle their tab through a tale-telling contest, but he does and it's brilliant. Many of the artists clearly do a lot more work, create more charm, provide for more unusual illustration, than such a short format might suggest it required. Again, you'll be eminently grateful they did.

I'll admit further that not only was Mr Petersen new to me, so were many of the names responsible for these stories. But that counts for nothing, and makes this volume definitely one for the connoisseur, or comix collector. Surely with the incredible detail of a Jeremy Bastian, the classically artistic hatching of Sean Rubin, or the luminous airbrush of Karl Kerschl, no fan of sequential art could be at all disappointed. And on the story front there is no slacking by anyone, either. There is a revisit of the old saw about the meekest mouse taking a thorn from a lion's paw, and even Poe's The Raven gets rewritten to fit into this world.

If there is anything it doesn't do it is that it shows no sign of the main Mouse Guard universe. Yes, there are copious brave and battling baby beasties in these pages, but I don't know if their stories have them warring against each other, other animals, something mythical, or a combination. But one suspects the main oeuvre has an equal merit, for the variety here could not have been spawned by some humdrum comic. Here are wordy tales, poetic ballads, and a completely wordless (silent) story. None disappoint (bar the epilogue), and many are flawless.

So yes, this might well have an entirely limited audience, due to my guess that the Guard's histories aren't completely well known as of yet. But for anyone else wishing to be surprised and delighted by the visual storytelling in these pages, one could well be satisfied with what's here and never be quite piqued enough for the main volumes. Quite...

I must thank the kind Titan Books people for my review copy.

For a regular book about mouse adventures, we love The Mousehunter by Alex Milway. For bigger animals in graphic novel form we recommend Grandville by Bryan Talbot.

Buy Mouse Guard: Legends of The Guard by David Petersen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mouse Guard: Legends of The Guard by David Petersen at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Mouse Guard: Legends of The Guard by David Petersen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mouse Guard: Legends of The Guard by David Petersen at Amazon.com.

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