I should take a step back though. As I mentioned this is the 11th book in the Fables series so it is difficult at this point to completely avoid spoilers so the now customary warning applies
************SPOILERS AHOY *************
Structurally, this book has two story arcs which dovetail nicely into each other, and in turn help resolve the story arc that has been developed since the first book in the main Fables series.
The first story arc concerns Cinderella. A few books ago, we learnt that whilst Cindy appears to be a businesswoman who owns a high end shoe shop, she is also one of the top secret agents that Fabletown has. Before the coming showdown with the Adversary, Cindy has to pick up a package from the very south of South America. The success of the whole war hinges on her success and she must use her feminine wiles, every trick in the book that she knows and a whole heap of ingenuity in order to get the job done! I loved the way that all of the Cinderella pages were bordered by a frieze of shoes. it added a degree of fun and whimsy to a book that could have taken itself a bit too seriously in the build up to the big confrontation.
And what a confrontation it is. All the various factions in the Fables lands come together in order to try and defeat the Adversary once and for all. The leaders, including all of our favourites like Bigby and Snow White, have been training their troops hard in the use of not only magical weapons but also in mundy (human) technology - technology that the isolationist Adversary may not have yet seen. Boy Blue is our narrator and thanks to the magical cloak that he has he manages to take the reader to each of the different battle fronts to observe the action.
It was interesting to see some of the character development that is still happening even after all these books. For example, over the last several books, Prince Charming has been the mayor of Fabletown but he always seemed somewhat narcissistic and still a terrible flirt and womaniser. Whilst I have no doubt that that man is still just below the surface, we also get glimpses of the heroic prince who we known through many of the fairy tales we have grown up with. It would be easy for these characters to become almost caracitures of themselves the longer the series goes on, but the writers and artists seem to be able to identify characters with capacity for growth and added dimensions relatively easily.
They are also adept at planting just enough new teasers in the storyline to make continuing the series worthwhile even as the major story arcs are resolved. I've already requested the next book via interlibrary loan. I was interested in seeing the final twist in the tail when it occurs late in the book and the final line offers up some foreshadowing that suggests that there is still plenty more conflict to be had in future tales.
The final battle between the free Fables of the mundane world and the Empire occupying their former Homelands is about to begin, and the scrappy storybook heroes have already managed to even the odds considerably. With his previously unstoppable wooden soldiers neutralized, the Adversary is about to get his first taste of high technology in the form of steel-jacketed bullets and laser-guided bombs. But the ruler who conquered a hundred different worlds didn’t do it by fighting clean—and he’s still got a surprise or two left to spring on the residents of Fabletown.
Other artits who contributed to this collection include Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Niko Henrichon and Andrew Pepoy