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Mouse Guard Volume One: Fall 1152    by David Petersen order for
Mouse Guard Volume One
by David Petersen
Order:  USA  Can
Archaia Studios Press, 2007 (2007)

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* * *   Reviewed by Lance Victor Eaton

David Petersen ponders what the world of mice might be like were they given the intellect and abilities of humans. As mammals on the smaller end of the food chain, he figures they would have to work to create homes that double as fortresses and in a somber sense, prisons. He pictures that a military force would develop among the mice, which he has called the Mouse Guard. They would be the protectors of mice as they travel to and fro, as well as assuring the safety of individual towns and homes.

In the fall of 1152, three of the Mouse Guard are asked to investigate a grain mouse who has gone missing. Lieam, the newest and youngest member of the Mouse Guard accompanies Kenzie and Saxon two older and more experienced, though highly competitive, guardsmice. In finding out the fate of the mouse, they also discover a map of the capital, Lockhaven, and stumble onto a conspiracy to lay siege to the city. They follow on to Barkstone to find out more about this plot. Meanwhile, another Mouse Guard member, Sadie, searches out an outpost to find an older member, Conrad. When they connect, Conrad warns Sadie of the ensuing attack on Lockhaven and sends her racing back in hopes of warning the city. Forces are stirring and a battle is coming. Lieam, Kenzie, and Saxon will be at the center of that battle and it's only through them that Lockhaven will be saved.

Petersen delivers a wonderfully enjoyable tale for both children and adults. With simple yet succinct language, he guides readers through his fantastical story. While a tale such as this cannot but help be compared to similar premises such as Brian Jacques' Redwall, Petersen's distinct style and use of comic art - as well as how he conceptualizes his world - should not be undervalued. His particular idea that mice are prisoners within their cities proves a very interesting point of view that one hopes he will explore more in future stories.

His layout and art prove interesting and appealing. At the beginning of each chapter, he spends a page detailing the events that are unraveling. This also includes quotes from various Mouse Guard annals and writings. His colorful art relies heavily on nature-based colors so that backgrounds blend with foregrounds, but distinction is still possible. Despite their weapons and cloaks, the mice too seem appropriately proportioned. Mouse Guard is a tale readers will enjoy again and again. Simplistic and elegeant in its art, words, and story, few will find fault with this graphic novel. One only hopes that Petersen will follow with more volumes of this caliber.

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