Peter & Max: A Fables Novel Bill Willingham
This is a new one for the fables-verse... a novel. There are a few black-and-white illustrations by Steve Leialhoha-- more than you usually get in an adult novel, sure, but not nearly as many as we're used to because this is a comic book series...
So, how does the jump to straight prose work? Really, really well.
You don't have to be a Fables reader to enjoy this one (although after the epilogue, there are 8 pages of comics, an epilogue to the epilogue if you will, about the war, so if you want that to make sense, you should be up on your Fables. Or ask me. I'll explain it to you. But you should really just go and read the series, ok?) If you are a Fables reader, this book takes place in the two years leading up to the war against the Empire.
Anyway, you know Peter as the boy who ate a peck of pickled peppers and who kept his wife in a pumpkin shell. Both of which aren't true, of course, but have their roots in reality. His older brother, Max, is the piper who stole all the children of Hamlin.*
Peter's family were musicians and Peter was the most gifted. His father gave him Frost, a magical pipe that plays beautifully, but will cut your lips with its razor-sharp mouthpiece. It must stay in the family and can, for each owner, drive away danger three times.
Max never forgave his father for for giving Frost to Peter, the younger son. When the Empire's forces come knocking, the family is scattered and Max's heart is twisted to a point of no return-- so horribly that he can make a mildly magic flute into an instrument of pain and suffering.
Peter ends up as a thief in Hamlin, his long-lost friend Bo Peep, one of Hamlin's deadliest assassins. But Max and Empire are looking for them, and they have to find a way to escape to the Mundy world, our world.
The book flips back and forth between their story in the Homelands and the Mundy world in the modern day, for Max has come to the Mundy Hamlin, and it's time for Peter to end this for once and for all.
Exciting and heartbreaking, a very in-depth story about life in the Homelands and life under the Empire and how two Fables escaped, and how, despite the amnesty, fleeing to the Mundy world doesn't solve everything, even centuries later...
Really, this is up there with Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall for my favorite Fables book.
*What is it with Frau Tottenkinder and the children? I really want more of her story. Hopefully in Fables, Book 14: Witches?
Book Provided by... my wallet
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