Driven by their blood-frenzied master, GoRec, a merciless army of rats swarms toward the underground mouse-city of of Tira-Nor to slaughter the mice and seize their ancestral home. But rats are not the only nightmare to awaken in the dying days of summer---a cold and bodiless evil stalks the lonely tunnels of the city, a shadow whose presence may mean that the doom of the Ancients has risen once again. Tira-Nor's last hope lies with JaRed, son of ReDemec, a mouse so small and young even his family calls him Runt. When GoRec's vast rat hordes descend on the plains above the city, JaRed is torn between his inner conviction that "right makes might" and the common sense that tell him victory against such terrible odds is impossible.
This originally self-published fantasy novel chronicles the adventures of JaRed, the titular field mouse born a runt. Out foraging one day, JaRed runs into two rats, who may be the advance guard of an attack on the mouse city Tira-Nor. When JaRed returns home, the old seer TaMir tells the little mouse he is destined to be the next king. Encounter by frightening encounter, JaRed grows into what has been foretold. Schwabauer's rendering of the archetypal heroic journey is fresh. As in the best fantasies, the author's imagination conjures a whole world, with a theology, cosmogony, and set of customs; the book includes a glossary and a short appendix explaining the naming traditions of the mice. The familiar hero's journey has immediate relevance for young readers; the cover trumpets a story of "bravery in the midst of a bully society." Even without that hook, it's a fine, thoroughly imagined, absorbing read. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)2012 Reed Business Information