While I can, I sail east in the Dawn Tread­er. When she fails me, I pad­dle east in my cor­a­cle. When she sinks, I shall swim east with my four paws. And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan’s coun­try, or shot over the edge of the world in some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sun­rise and Peep­iceek will be head of the talk­ing mice in Nar­nia.” — Reepicheep, The Voy­age of the Dawn Tread­er

Ok, so here’s the thing about giv­ing swords to mice.  It’s the freak­ing best.  While the sym­bol­ism of the swords­mouse prob­a­bly goes with­out say­ing, let me at least say that one of the rea­sons swordsmice are awe­some is that they remind us nev­er to be daunt­ed by long odds and to always per­sist in the face of adver­si­ty (two lessons that are becom­ing increas­ing­ly impor­tant).

In the case of Reepicheep, a well-known char­ac­ter from C.S. Lewis’s Nar­nia and my very favorite swords­mouse, the lessons about being fierce despite small size are still there, but they’re slight­ly over­shad­owed by the main thrust (no pun intend­ed) of the char­ac­ter, which is that you should be a total and com­plete badass in every and all sit­u­a­tions, no excep­tions. Full stop.

Reepicheep’s whole thing is that he might be the tini­est bit inse­cure about being, you know, a mouse, so he way, super over­com­pen­sates by being real­ly into fight­ing every­one who even slight­ly annoys him in any capac­i­ty.  Now. On the sur­face, does this seem like real­ly not an admirable qual­i­ty?  Yes.  But!  Reepicheep com­plete­ly makes up for this egre­gious old-timey bel­li­cos­i­ty by being extreme­ly noble, chival­rous, and basi­cal­ly just a big, damn hero.

This is a fan­made piece of art depict­ing Reepicheep and Matthi­as in a sword fight. Vis­it the artist’s DeviantArt page, here!

Anoth­er great swords­mouse is Matthi­as, the main char­ac­ter of Bri­an Jacques’s Red­wall.  Matthi­as is a clas­sic unlike­ly hero and real­ly, who doesn’t love that?  Matthi­as is oppo­site of Reepicheep in most ways. He’s a peace-lov­ing mouse who pret­ty much just loves work­ing at Red­wall Abbey and is por­trayed as a bit of a bun­gler at first.  But he ris­es in defense of his home and his loved ones when the Abbey is threat­ened.  With­out spoil­ing the book for you, I’ll tell you that Matthias’s trans­for­ma­tion from hap­less pas­toral duf­fer to mighty swords­mouse is exact­ly what you need to read if you feel help­less.

Nar­nia and Red­wall are very, very dif­fer­ent from one anoth­er, but aside from swordsmice and being writ­ten by Brits, what they have in com­mon is the deep-root­ed the­me that good will defeat evil as long as heroes have the will to per­se­vere.

 

This should prob­a­bly be the KU mot­to. It’s def­i­nite­ly one of mine and is a per­fect depic­tion of the best of what swordsmice rep­re­sent.

Basi­cal­ly what I’m try­ing to say, you guys, is this: Swordsmice are one of the great­est things ever given to us by lit­er­a­ture.  They remind us that val­or, brav­ery, and phys­i­cal prowess are not the domain only of the large and strong. They teach us not to be afraid to pick a fight, if we feel threat­ened.  They show us that you can be peace­ful and still pro­tect those you love.  The­se are impor­tant things for every child to learn, which is why swordsmice are most­ly found in books for chil­dren and young adults, but I have found myself need­ing reminders late­ly. If you do, too, the­se books, and oth­ers like them, are the places to find them.

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So, what do you think?