When I was in college, I started reading the Redwall novels by Brain Jacques. I know that I was reading below my reading level, but to say that I had read Watership Down at a very impressionable age would be an understatement. So, give me animals doing human things or close to, and I will at least try the story. Therefore, later in college when I discovered William Horwood while on a trip to the Netherlands, I was like WTF, why isn’t he published here in the US. Bastards.
Mice Templar is like Redwall in that it focuses on mice. That’s about it. There is more blood, there is more violence, there is less feasting, there is more death. It is Anime and not Disney.
Mice Templar relates the story of Karic of Cricket’s Glen and his friends and family as they struggle to make sense of a dark world, where light is not. Karic’s home is attacked and his family and friends taken or killed. Those that are taken are to be sacrificed in the capital. Karic is determined to save those he lives, and so answers in the affirmative when he determines upon a course that will change not only him, but his world.
The world of the Mice Templar is based on various European myths and history. There are connections to Joan of Arc, to various Norse sagas, and Arthurian legends. But it is also connection to the Dark Ages, for the mice’s world seems to be on perpetual darkness, there is not day. Even the inclusion of the Maeven, female mice warriors, has historical precedent. (To be fair, the inclusion of female characters who are actually truly active takes a bit, yet it is played off quite nicely in the end).
One of the main themes that the comic series explores is the question of story telling and destiny. Our lives are stories, and most humans convey wisdom don history though stories. Kari is willing to take on the quest, but does he lose himself in the process? He becomes a symbol to more than just mice. But is that symbol something to be feared or to be worshiped, and for how long? We tend to blame the English for the death of Joan of Arc, but the French were also culpable.
Part of Karic’s struggle is to reconcile the Templars who are split almost along the lines of the time of two popes, though more on a secular level than anything. The mouse who becomes Karic’s closest friend, Cassius, has been tramlined by this war, and both Karic and his childhood friend Leito almost reenact over the course of the series.
But what hangs over the story, one of the themes is the idea of story and the power of story. It forces the reader to confront how story telling plays a role not just in history but in setting us on the paths we chose as well as how we view questions of faith.