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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mouse Guard. Winter 1152. David Petersen.Titan Books (2009)

The second book in the Mouse Guard series is a beautifully illustrated and subtly written story of loyalty, betrayal and adventure. The Mouse Guard headquarters of Lockhaven are suffering shortages of supplies as winter settles in, A group of the the guard are sent on a mission to the other mouse settlements to get supplies and issue invitations to a meeting at Lockhaven. Returning from the settlement of Sprucetuck, they are attacked by a predator and find themselves separated into two groups. One of them above ground, the other in the old weasel stronghold of Darkheather. The story unfolds with very well staged reveals, excellent action and the cast reveal a great deal more about themselves.
The art is sumptuous, the winter colours are used with great skill, the frozen landscape is both beautiful and utterly menacing. The details of the mouse settlements are shown without crowding out the panels. They look lived in and and cared for, they have a nicely medieval sense to them. The wooden construction of Sprucetuck constants well with the stone in Lockhaven. Out in the open the sense of scale is provided, the mice are very small and the predators are huge, the threat is clear and imperative.
The art is so striking that it almost overshadows the story, almost but not quite. The action is much more contemplative in this book, there is a much greater emphasis on the characters of the cast, their various personalities. The action is used to reveal and develop them, while at the same time being exciting and engaging. Threads from the first book are picked up and followed in a very considered way. David Petersen has so fully imagined the world of the Mouse Guard that he can imagine the possible consequences of the events in the first book and a good enough storyteller that knowledge of them is not necessary to enjoy this book. A wonderful comic and a great read.

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