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Mouse Guard: The Black Axe by David Petersen
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Mouse Guard: The Black Axe

by David Petersen

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This is the third book in the Mouse Guard series, it was wonderfully done and answers a lot of questions about the legend of the Black Axe. This is full of beautiful illustrations and wonderful details. I would recommend for middle grade and older, my seven year old son had a bit of trouble with some of the words and some of the more complicated story threads.

This was an excellent story in the Mouse Guard series. It is a prequel to the Mouse Guard series and is set in the year 1115. Celanawe finally tells the tale of how he came to obtain the Black Axe, which is both a mysterious weapon and a legendary figure that has featured throughout this series. During Celanawe’s adventure he slowly unravels the legend of Farrer, the blacksmith who forged the Black Axe.

If was fun to finally get the whole story behind this legendary figure/weapon. Celanawe is just a normal mouse in the Mouse Guard when an old relative arrives at his door requesting that he accompany her on a quest to find out what happened to the Black Axe. She has a note from Celanawe’s Matriarch Bronwyn confirming her tale and Bronwyn’s wish for Celanawe to help her.

What follows is a wonderful adventure over land and sea where the mice confront traditional enemies and find a far off kingdom with an enemy who needs their help. Celanawe’s involvement with the Black Axe is revealed and the legend behind this mythical weapon slowly comes to light. The story comes full circle back to Lieam and his decision to take up the Black Axe.

The drawings are stunning and the story is detailed and engrossing. I have been reading all the Mouse Guard books with my 7 year old son and we really enjoy them. Sometimes the story does get a bit complex for him and we spend a lot of time talking about new words that he doesn’t know yet.

There is an epilogue involving Lieam as well. As with the previous books there is an extras section that shows you towns in more detail and delves further into the history of Mousekind and the legend of Farrer.

My only complaint is that the font that most of the story is told in is very loopy and artistic, and when reading this out loud to my son I had a bit of trouble reading the font. It is however very beautiful looking, it just takes a bit of concentration to figure out what some of the words say.

Overall this was a wonderful addition to the Mouse Guard series. There are wonderful full color drawings throughout and the story is epic. I love this series! Highly recommended to fans of fantasy graphic novels, or just fans of fantasy in general. Great for all ages. ( )
  krau0098 | Mar 4, 2014 |
Summary: In 1115, Celanawe was an ordinary mouse of the Guard when a distant relative arrived at his solitary outpost. She told a tale of a mythical weapon, the Black Axe, and of Farrer, the blacksmith who forged it, and his descendants... of which Celanawe was the last. Together, they set out on a quest to recover the axe from where it was lost on an unknown land across an uncharted sea. They find a ship to carry them, but the way is long and perilous for such small creatures, and even once they reach their destination, they find the axe in the hands of a fearsome predator, the Ferret King.

Review: I already knew that I found the world of David Petersen's Mouse Guard charming, and very easy to fall into. That's equally the case in this installment, and a huge part of what makes it so is Petersen's worldbuilding, and his art (which, in a graphic novel, are inextricably linked.) The medieval setting of the mice's world feels at once very familiar and very original. Many of the visual elements are familiar - the look of illuminated manuscripts, of the weapons and the buildings and the tapestries and carvings - both from our own history as well as from previous medieval fantasies that have drawn upon them. (Ildur, the hall of the ferret king, in particular is extraordinarily reminiscent of Edoras.) But at the same time, everything is scaled down to mouse size, and Petersen does a good job of imagining how these mice would live in a world where almost everything is larger than they are, and most things see them as food. His drawings of the mice out away from their cities, interacting with other creatures, are just as detailed and evocative as his depictions of the more civilized aspects of their world.

I also quite enjoyed the story in this volume. Celanawe was one of my favorite parts of the first two volumes, so I was certainly interested in his backstory, and Petersen did not disappoint. While there's certainly danger and adventure, there's a quiet seriousness to these books as well, a realization that life does not come easy to these mice, and that hard choices sometimes must be made, that makes them something more than a cute animal story, which I appreciated. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: The Black Axe contains a framing prologue and epilogue set in 1153, after the events of Fall 1152 and Winter 1152, but the bulk of the story would stand well enough on its own. These books have such a good blend of charm and gravitas that I think they'd be appealing to readers of any age who like medieval fantasy or animal stories, or both. ( )
  fyrefly98 | Aug 25, 2013 |
The Mouse Guard has faced one of it’s greatest challenges, treason from within, and managed to survive thanks to the actions of other brave mice of the guard…and the Black Axe a lost hero. In this prequel Celanawe, the Black Axe, tells the story he promised to tell Lieam...the story of how he came by the Black Axe. Celanawe is a one of the guard, one of the bravest there is, and is happy to serve for as long as he is able. Until a relative, Em, comes to take him on a journey away from all he knows into new dangers across the sea to find the lost Black Axe. An ancient weapon of the mouse guard and one that is needed once again to help defend the kingdom. Only Celanawe can wield the axe, but can he find it in time?

The artwork is probably my favorite part of this story. Don’t get me wrong the story is great as well, but the artwork is still stunning. Beautiful watercolor drawings that just capture enough detail in the characters and their surrounding to make them seem real, especially the depiction of the fur of all of the various creatures that appear. In this book David brings his skill to depicting some of the larger four legged hunters for the first time. I love the depiction of their armor and how its made up of skulls of dead animals, crab shells, and even fish and the little details that David adds to the depictions to make it come to life. I especially like the level of detail in the duck that shows up to help them escape, it’s absolutely beautifully done. I don’t think I’ve discussed it before, but David captures the movement of the characters well…those little details that help the characters feel real and alive that help us connect with them better. The little movements as they try to make their way silently away from the weasels are done fantastically. This is still the type of book that I can just sit down with for hours on end and look at all of the details in the illustrations.

This again is a gripping tale and has just the right mix of drama to keep readers interested without being overwhelming with so much going on. David creates a pace to the tale that is pitch perfect, always making you want more. And that subtle tension that we see in the previous two volumes remains and is there at the very beginning of the story and continues to build throughout the book.This tale is a bit darker and younger readers might be a bit upset about what happens to a couple of the characters, but they should still enjoy it and finding out about the Black Axe.

This is just a fantastic story and I would recommend it for all ages, because it has a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy. I can’t wait to read the next volume in the series. ( )
  zzshupinga | Jul 20, 2013 |
This graphic novel begins in the year 1153 with a search for Celanwe, a missing mouse. Celanwe had a good life. He is the head of the Mouse Guard and he is in love albeit secretly. However, when Em shows up, telling him he is her only living relative and they must find the black axe, he has no choice but to accompany on her quest.

Mouse Guard: The Black Axe is the prequel to the Mouse Guard series explaining the origin of the Black Axe and how Celanwe became its wielder. Reminiscent of novels like Watership Down, the characters here are all animals. However, it would be a mistake to consider this a graphic novel for kids based on this fact. This is a very smart, very well-written story. Author and Artist David Peterson has not only written a fascinating fantasy but the graphics are beautiful and complement the story completely.

This is the first Mouse Guard graphic novel I have read but it won't be my last. I was entranced by the tale and am looking forward to the rest of the series. ( )
  lostinalibrary | May 9, 2013 |
Background: Mouse Guard: The Black Axe #3 is actually a prequel to the Black Axe’s background of how he came to become Black Axe. It chronicles the adventure of finding and retrieving the axe and becoming the wielder.

Review: I requested this graphic novel because it looked like an interesting tale, and being the prequel to a series made it even better, I got to start from the very, very beginning. Mouse Guard was a beautifully drawn and colored novel. The images were vibrant and tapestry like from times of old, which worked well with and for the time the story takes place. Celanawe is the main mouse in the story and he is strong, adventurous, and kind of a loner from what I could tell. The adventure leads us through sea passage, to a great battle, a few deaths and the becoming of the wielder of the legendary and mysterious Black Axe.

I really enjoyed the art more than the story, but the art and imagery really tells the story without the words too. I think this was a beautiful and creative graphic novel and would like to read the other installments. ( )
  sszkutak | Apr 24, 2013 |
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Set in the year 1152, the Black axe is a prequel to the previous two volumes of Mouse guard and tells of Celanawe's epic quest to take possession of the black axe.

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