Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, Vol. 3, by Various Artists

This entry is part 8 of 16 in the series 2022 Reads

Just like with the previous volumes of this series, I read this book in a single sitting to my son, who was enthralled all the way through. I’d never read him anything that he was so interested as to insist on returning to it every day till it was done, the way he was with this series. (However, he is now similarly enraptured by David Weiger and Terryl Whitlatch’s The Katurran Odyssey. Expect a post on that at some point.)

I know I praised the second volume of Legends of the Guard for embracing a wider variety of styles and stories than the first, but I feel like this volume went even further. A few of the stories were very short—some were only a few pages long, even—but they all stood out for being so different from one another and, for the most part, so different from the original and iconic style used by Mouse Guard creator David Petersen himself. It was a joy to be surprised at every turn, and even when a story didn’t grab us as much, the novelty of the radical change in its style of presentation usually made up for that. 

My only complaint I would offer is that it’d have been nice if the interstitial material that Petersen contributed had been allowed to expand a little bit more. (I may be misremembering, but my impression was that it became more terse in Volume 2, and stayed just as brief—if not becoming more so—in Volume 3.) I honestly though that the way we got a chance to briefly glimpse the storytellers sometimes shed a different light on the tales they told, and a little more of that would have been interesting. I could spend quite a bit of time just reading a comic about mice in a pub grumbling at one another about rumors, gossip, and legends, praising and decrying each story one by one, and blustering about who was going to win the contest…. but maybe that’s just me. Of course, I can’t fault Petersen for ceding more of the pages to his contributors, and it’s probably as much out of necessity and the constraints of space as anything that Petersen kept his contributions short: after all, this was originally published in comic book form, before being reissued in the hardbacks we have.  

One more thing: the collected covers in the back of all three volumes are gorgeous, but the ones in this third volume were particularly striking. My son even said, “Wow!” about a couple of them, like these examples I found online:

Oh, and while I would never disparage June’s choice of winner—she is the host of the contest, after all, and a wise and generous mouse indeed—the story that gave me the most joy was, I think, the one below… though probably part of that is that it’s about a father and son sitting together, a situation that closely mirrored the situation in which I was reading it to my own son. 

Legends of the Guard is a great series. I personally still found the original Mouse Guard books more compelling—how could I not, with their continuous narrative?—but these were fun and a good mix of heroism, tenderness, weirdness, spooky sorrow, and just plain fun. They’re well worth your time.  

Series Navigation<< <em>Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping</em> by Matthew Salesses and <em>The Anti-Racist Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom</em> by Felicia Rose Chavez<em>Wanderhome</em>, by Jay Dragon >>

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