This traditional characterization of the rat kingdom disappointed me. I do not want to choose between Mrs Frisby’s team and Despereaux, between Remy (star of “Ratatouille”) and Stuart Little. And Miss Bianca is in the background of this story, although even the rats have heard tell of the community’s adoration of her, which leads them to target her in their conflict.
For a time, it appears as though Miss Bianca will be tricked into submission, but she proves too smart for her foes. She is also wise enough to remove herself from danger in another instance (although praying for victory, having tossed off her negligee, is not necessarily the way I picture Miss Bianca either).
“She herself at the sound of the alarm bell immediately jumped out of bed and threw on a swansdown negligee; then remembering her promise to Bernard threw it off and got back between her pink silk sheets, where all she could do was pray for a mouse victory!”
I explain this by imagining that Miss Bianca had had a little too much cordial, overwhelmed by the idea of being a prisoner when she had always been the rescuer in the past. For while I do not begrudge loyal Bernard his moment at the fore of the action, and while I do agree that sometimes the best course of action is to remain on the sidelines, I wanted Miss Bianca to be just where she has been consistently, at the heart of the plot.
As standalone novels, the last two in the series, Bernard the Brave and Bernard into Battle, might be more satisfying. For my mouse-loving (but also rat-loving) taste, I’ll stick with the adventures which feature both Bernard and Miss Bianca, in handkerchief and silver chain, dressed for success.