December 10th, 2009

m-ouse ears.

Rise to thy stars above! (110)

Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 by David Petersen.

O ecce murid!
Darkheather the Dwarrowdelf,
once home to weasels.

I praised the first volume of these saying it was maybe Bone or Watership Down good, & I stand by that-- it might even be better than I first though. I'll make a small confession-- I've been trying to avoid mindblowing books, since I know I'll have to make a "best of the year" list soon, & I don't want to make it harder for myself. This though, I knew would be good enough to make that list, but is too good to postpone half a month. Mouse Guard has the central premise of anthropomorphized mice, focusing on the hero mice of the Guard. Golly are they heroic. This volume had me poised to fall off the edge of my seat. Just horrifying things like-- the mice exploring the abandoned weasel warren of Darkheather, which is sort of the same thing as Moria from Lord of the Rings. Not only is it horrifying, terrifying, but the characters feel it, are moved by the darkness & death. Not only do Liem & Celanawe fight an owl but it is a ridiculous act of dragonslaying. The plot advances, the politics advance, the characters advance, the worldbuilding advances-- this is a really astonishing work of art. & then! It ends with mice of various warrens in conference, & Petersen's sense of mouse fashion is just jaw dropping-- he evokes whole cultures with just a few articles of clothing. Really really grand stuff. Action! Adventure! Romance! Drama! Whodunnit! Suspense! Just unstoppable storytelling. I'm really impressed. Plus, the appendix is really swell, & has the previously aforementioned fashion on display!