Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, by David Petersen (2009) E

Date read: 7.18.11
Book from: Borrowed from Kakaner
Reviewer: Emera

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152

“After Midnight’s Rebellion in the Fall of 1152, the following Winter proves to be a cold and icy season. The Guard face a food shortage threatening the lives of many a mouse in the Territories. Some of the Guard’s finest – Saxon, Kenzie, Lieam, and Sadie, with the old grayfur Celanawe by their side – traverse the snow-blanketed Territories, acting as diplomats to improve relations between the mouse cities and the Guard, and seeking vital supplies for their headquarters at Lockhaven. But hungry predators, the dangers of ice and snow, and a wrong turn into the haunted depths of the abandoned weasel tunnels of Darkheather place even so intrepid a band of Guardsmice in mortal peril…”

As Kakaner assured me, Mouse Guard vol. 2 has much more emotional meat on its bones than did the first arc. Reading this volume, it’s clear that Fall 1152 was just a taster; here our sense of the Guard’s mythology and traditions is deepened, and the worldbuilding continues apace, both within the comic and in the (again) adorable and obsessively detailed appendices.

Midnight’s obligatory power-hungry rebellion is revealed to have longer-lasting implications for the politics of the Mouse Territories and the integrity of the Guard, while Sadie, Kenzie, and Saxon’s descent into the mindblowingly byzantine tunnels and vaulted caverns of Darkheather brings us closer to the darkness and horror that lie in the Guard’s recent past. On Lieam’s end of things, Celanawe drops hints about the mythology of the Black Axe – a lone, mysterious arbiter of justice – and teaches some lessons about self-reliance. All of this is clearly paving the way for Lieam’s impending ascension to full-blown badass. And then there are epic battles with a vengeful one-eyed owl, and torrents of bats in purplish gloom, and beautifully desolate lamplit snowscapes, and Kenzie/Saxon bromance (brodentmance?)…

Also, I underwent a weird little cognitive tweak reading this volume. During the first I’d felt I just couldn’t get the characters, and tenatively chalked it up to the dialogue being a bit stilted. This time around I realized that it’s also that the mice generally only have two facial expressions: peering intently, or squinting determinedly. And once I realized that, I was fine with it; it’s like I’d placated an otherwise expectant emotional processing circuit. Conclusion: Brains are weird. Have some more cute mice.

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152

Go to:
David Petersen: bio and works reviewed
Mouse Guard: Fall 1152, by David Petersen, review by Emera

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  1. kim’s avatar

    i just pretend they’re all musketeers and it makes sense to me as well! the stone well is one of my favorite architectural delights in the book.

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  2. Andygrrrl’s avatar

    I felt the same way about the first volume: fun, but a bit emotionally distant — I think you’re right about the facial expressions! I’m glad the second volume is an improvement, because I’m kind of required to like this series. It’s mice! With swords! Instant love!

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  3. kakaner’s avatar

    Ha! Once again, I’m happy our reactions and thoughts have aligned =) I was surprised to see that single plotpoint from the first volume bloom into something more, and really enjoyed the development of the world and politics.

    I have legends of the guard and black axe! Onward!

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  4. Emera’s avatar

    Kimi just pretend they’re all musketeers
    I thoroughly love that image. Thank you. (Now I just need to not make a mouseketeer joke…)
    And the entire underground sequence, once they’ve encountered the river, pressed about five of my “overwhelming visual splendor ahhh!!” buttons at once, so I’m with you on the well. I have an enormous fascination with underground reservoirs and rivers, especially when there’s columned architecture involved. Something about the surprise of encountering such expanses and power underground, perhaps?

    AndyIt’s mice! With swords!
    Indeed, indeed! It’s definitely growing on me, especially when I think about how much I would have longed to be so stoic and competent when I was little. I would have loved to play Guards. :)

    K – Yes, I thought that the aftermath played out more interestingly than the revolt itself, I suppose because revolts are so old-hat by now in fantasy.

    Have you read Legends and Black Axe already?? Thoughts?

    P.S. Anyone want to compare favorite mice? Sadie was my favorite in the first volume, and Saxon is actually starting to grow on me, which I didn’t expect at all.
    I love the hares, too.

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