Narrator: Joel Leslie
Length: 9 hours, 25 minutes
When Mouse is offered a job to rescue a lord held captive in a neighboring land, he eagerly accepts, knowing that the promised gold will go a long way to helping him protect his father. Mouse typically is hired to steal or smuggle objects, not people, but he has never failed on the job and he has no intention of starting now. The mission is complicated because while they know that Garron is being held by a rival duchy, no one knows exactly where he is being kept, or more importantly, why they are holding him. It doesn’t seem like normal political maneuvering, and as a lord, it is unlikely Garron is being held for a petty crime. But either way, Mouse is determined to find the man and return him home.
Using his street smarts and experience, Mouse is able to track Garron to inside the tower of the manor house. But getting Garron out of his cell proves to be the easy part. What is much harder is finding a way to get Garron safely outside the walls of the manor and the city, and see him returned home. It is even more complicated when a mage gets involved, using her magic to help track the men.
Mouse never expected to actually like Garron, as he despises most nobles. But Garron surprises him with his decency and kindness. In fact, Mouse finds himself attracted to Garron despite himself, though he knows a relationship between a lord and a common thief has no future. Still, Mouse will do whatever it takes to see Garron to safety, even if it means ultimately losing him when their adventure is over.
I have heard nothing but wonderful things about Lord Mouse (and the Lords of Davenia series) so I was so excited for the chance to listen to it in audio, especially with narrator Joel Leslie. Everyone I know has raved about the story, and I found it clever, exciting, and well developed as well. I have mentioned before how I love a clever hero, and Mouse certainly fits this description. Much of the book is focused on Mouse tracking down Garron, getting him out of his cell, and ultimately helping him escape. Mouse is a small man (hence his name) and not physically imposing, but still a talented fighter and quite physically skilled. But more than that, he is so smart, able to assess and read situations and figure out solutions when there seem to be none. We get to follow along as Mouse works his leads, puts together plans, and figures his way out of increasingly dangerous situations. It is such a fun journey to take as a reader and I was totally captivated throughout the book.
It also helps that Thomas does a wonderful job of world building here. Part of what makes Mouse so good is his ability to predict the ways that people will logically behave, and built into that are the detailed descriptions of the environment and the people they encounter and relaying what their lives might have been like. For example, Mouse understands the role of servants in the manor, the way they are barely noticed by the lords, and how carrying a tray can get you in just about anywhere. And like I said, Thomas really provides great detail that makes all of Mouse’s actions ring true and makes you feel a great sense of place.
I loved the bit of enemies to lovers vibe that we get here between Mouse and Garron. Mouse is predisposed to hate pretty much all nobles, having grown up poor and seeing the way the wealthy generally treat everyone else. So he is determined to protect Garron and he finds him attractive, but never expects to actually like the man. I enjoyed seeing the way Mouse slowly comes to realize that Garron is, in fact, a really good guy, and to see the attraction bloom into real caring and affection. Things happen a bit fast between them going purely by the passage of time. But listening, I never felt like their relationship was rushed, perhaps until the end when dramatic moves occur. Still, I found myself fully invested in their relationship and I loved the way Garron cares deeply for Mouse despite their different stations and outlooks on life.
I listened to this in audio, narrated by Joel Leslie, and it was just wonderful. Leslie is masterful at accents and so the story really shines in this regard. In addition to Garron and Mouse, the men encounter scores of side characters, many of whom come and go throughout the book, and Leslie makes them all distinct as well as consistent over the story. Mouse and Garron have accents that befit their different social statuses and it is easy to distinguish between them even when speaking to one another. There is one scene that is such a triumph of voice acting, and that is when we have another character impersonating Mouse, who is himself acting out a role. The multiple layers here of voicing Mouse who is trying to sound like someone else, and then adding a second person who is trying to imitate him is such a challenge, and Leslie does an amazing job with this complex scene.
Overall the audio is so well done and smooth and it really brings this excellent story to life. The pacing is good, the tone is spot on, and it almost feels like listening to play being acted out. So while I have heard nothing but wonderful things about the book itself, for me the audio definitely was a great way to experience the story.
So I am happy to say that Lord Mouse was just as good as I had hoped and I really enjoyed it in audio as well. The second book in the series, The Shadow Mark, has already come out, so I am hoping we will have the audio for that soon, as I am really eager to continue on with the series.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.