Given that it is the 12th book in the series (well more than that, but we will go with that seeing as it is the official title) it is impossible to review these without giving away anything that might not be known if you are reading the earlier books in the series, so, as always....
*****THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD*****
At the end of the last book, you could have been forgiven for thinking that life was going to get a lot easier for the residents of Fabletown. After all, the Adversary had been comprehensively defeated and the Flycatcher's newly established land known as Haven is thriving. Time to recover from the recent war for everyone involved.
Of course, in true Fables fashion, you would be wrong.
The Adversary has been bought back to Fabletown but because of the terms of agreement he is not to be punished. The citizens of Fabletown are not happy, as in really, really not happy to have this man be able to live freely among them, especially as he displays no recognition of how evil his deeds are, let alone remorse of any kind.
One of the dangers that is posed when there is a void in who controls a situation is that someone else, or something else, will rise up and take the place. One hopes that it will be someone better, but when it is a hidden power that in this first introduction seems far more evil than the Adversary ever was and that even Frau Totenkinder has no clue how to defeat, you know that it isn't a good sign.
With the end of the first major story arc, it was clear that the writers were going to have to shake things up a bit in order to introduce a new overarching story, and shake things up they did.
There are favourite characters who die, and we don't really know if they are going to come back again. After all, the life of the fables is determined by how many people believe in them. If the stories about characters are told and retold the corresponding fable will continue on and on. But what if one of the best characters in the Fables world is only a little known fable in the mundy world. What if no one tells his story? Can he come back again? It's all a bit meta really, but it is fun to try and think it through.
With one quick swipe of the artists pens, the whole face of Fabletown is changed and the consequences include having a population that is divided or in transit, political change and so much more. In effect, in this book the story starts again but without having to reintroduce us to the characters that we have come to love over the course of the series so far.
Most of this book was the darker side of the Fables story, so I was glad that the last section of the book focused on Mowgli and was somewhat lighter in tone. Even Bigby's brothers got some page time, and seem to have found an outlet for their energy and, um, skills!
I am not sure if the darker start was part of the reason why this instalment took me much longer to read than normal, or just if that is a general reflection of my reading at the moment, but it is unheard of for it to take me two weeks to read one of these books.
Going by Kelly's super duper guide to reading the Fables series (which she recently updated), I now need to step away from the Fables world for a little while and concentrate on the Jack of Fables books. Jack has been seen in the earlier books in the series in little cameo appearances. He always seemed a bit smarmy, a bit of a jerk, so I guess we will wait to see what kind of mischief he gets up to in his books.
As always, I have already requested the next book, or in this case the first Jack book, from the library via interlibrary loan.
The great war between Fabletown and the mighty empire of the Adversary is over, and the victorious free fables have brought their defeated enemy back from the Homelands to join them in exile. Their celebrations, however, are destined to be short-lived. As it turns out, not even beloved storybook heroes can escape the law of unintended consequences. In the post-war chaos of the Adversary's former realm, a terrible force is about to be unleashed - an evil that threatens not just Fabletown, but the entire mundane world.
Additional contributors include Mark Buckingham, Peter Gross, Andrew Pepoy, Michael Allred, David Hahn.