Review: Mouse Guard Autumn 1152

Published on June 2nd, 2010

I understand that a lot of you will be used to refering to this book as ‘Fall’, and not ‘Autumn’. It’s just that here in Britain, it is published as the later. I thought I should mention that straight off the bat for the sake of clarity, incase some poor soul had no idea that we Brits do not (usually) refer to the Autumn period as ‘Fall’.

Mouse Guard Autumn 1152 is the first in the ongoing ‘Mouse Guard‘ series of books, drawn and written collectively by it’s creator, David Petersen. Mouse Guard has for a long time been a series of books that I have always heard great things about, and never any criticisms or complaints. It has sounded like the perfect book. Yet for 2 years, I neglected putting any intention I had on buying it into practise. It’s happened to us all at some point, we know there is a series we really want to read, yet we always put it off for a later date. Well recently, I finally took that long-awaited leap of faith, and turned out some hard earned cash in return for all the Mouse Guard books currently available on the shelves (so expect a review of ‘Mouse Guard Winter 1152’ at a later date as well).

Was it worth the 2 year wait? Did it match up in my opinion with the reviews and high praise I’d heard it get?

mouseguardfall1152Yes it certainly did, and is well worthy of the praise. When you consider how David Petersen did everything in this book, then yes, it is quite an incredible thing to observe as the work of one man. Anyone who manages to draw and write their own story, and succeeds in pulling it off, deserves the highest respect. The artwork is simply beautiful. It doesn’t compare to anything else I can think of. The colourful, lush environments are breathtaking. The drawn animals are perfected with life-like attention to detail as well as a characterised animated charm. The use of colour and ink is executed perfectly to capture the true atmosphere of Autumn. I cannot begin to express how stunning the artwork is, I would say this book is worth checking out for the artwork alone. You will not be let down.

The premise for the main story is just as appealing as the artwork, you’ll be glad to hear. A hidden civilization of Mice who exist in a fantasy world of vicious predators and harsh conditions, who have to keep their cities hidden in safety to guarantee survival. The Mice are a bold race though, and are determined to prevail in their existance. They will not see their proud race die out. However, for life to carry on as normal for the Mice, daily life and business must continue to also guarantee survival. But with dangerous roads between cities, who will protect the everyday Mouse? The Mouse Guard will. They serve as soldiers and guides to the fellow Mouse, whose job is to protect and to help assist travelling Mice. However, there seems to be a traitor amongst the ranks, someone who believes the present state of the Guard is useless and misguided, someone who in this book, eventually leads an army of rebels against the Mice leaders, causing a civil war. Our three protagonists are Saxon, Kenzie and Lieam, three mice of the Guard, who fight against the rebellion with the help of a legendary once-hero of the Guard. I will not spoil the story, as there are some spoilers specific to some characters which are best left discovered upon reading.

But it sounds great right? It did to me. Although, I will point out something which I found a bit irritating at the start of the book. But don’t worry, luckily it’s nothing serious that effects the sense of awe you’ll get upon finishing the book.

The first few chapters were difficult to read in places, as it took a while for the story to really get going. There were certainly more than a couple of pages in chapters one and two, where it felt as if the book was questioning its own direction. Don’t get me wrong, it served as a good introduction to our three protagonists, and it built upon their relationships well, it’s just it could have all been done at the same time as building upon the main plot. Still, by the third chapter it really got going and became awesome through to the end. It is not a massive criticism against the book at all, just something worth mentioning I felt.

At the back of the book, you even get a map of the Mice territories, pin-pointing all their cities! It’s great to have as a reference, and it’s cool to be able to look up the locations of where different parts of the story were taking place. It gives a real sense of adventure, and opens up your imagination to the vast size of their world. On top of that, you actually get really cool drawings of the cities themselves.

All in all then, an absolutely amazing story that really packed a punch in the long run. Our three heros Saxon, Kenzie and Lieam are great characters, ones who I cannot wait to read more of in future stories. It is an outstanding fantasy book, that will be enjoyed by anyone (especially fans of fantasy stories), without a shadow of a doubt. The artwork will be enjoyed by any fan of comics or good art, I can tell you that right now. I am so glad that I have the second book in the series (Mouse Guard Winter 1152) on my shelf, ready to read. This is a great read for kids, and for adults alike. I might even check out the Mouse Guard RPG book game. It looks equally as fun!

Rob Andrews