Friday, June 20, 2008

Fables, Vol 10: The Good Prince by Bill Willingham

With the revelation of Prince Ambrose's real history, the humble janitor who was the Frog Prince (Nicknamed Flycatcher, or Fly for short) has regained his memory and is tormented by it. He stops cleaning the mayor's office and sits in the dark and broods. Prince Charming, the mayor, excuses him, but is upset that all the files are lying about. He threatens Bufkin, the flying monkey office assistant, with death by being eaten unless the files are cleaned up.

Bufkin knocks over the armor of the Forsworn Knight, who warns him that the time is coming... which is taken as a warning of War with the Adversary who overran all the Kingdoms the Fables originally hailed from. The Fables know now that the Adversary is not the Monstrous-looking Emperor, but the man who created him, the woodcarver Gepetto. The Adversary is looking to capture the Fables who escaped him, and probably the whole of the human world as well. He is also locked in battle with the worlds of the Arabian Fables, who have signed a deal with the Fables of Fabletown, and they all are getting ready to fight the Adversary and his forces.

With the armor knocked down, however, it proves to be empty, until the knight when the former wearer of the armor turns up in ghost form. Lancelot is looking for the good Prince... Ambrose, to lead him to create a Kingdom in the former Fable Lands to harry the forces of the Adversary and give those who disagree with him a place of sanctuary.

But first there are some things Ambrose must do... such as descend the Witching Well and gather up the spirits lost therein to march upon the Kingdoms conquered by the Adversary... including both Blackbeard and Shere Khan, both thrown into the well for betraying the Fables, their spirits trapped for eternity. Of course, they intend to betray Ambrose, but he knows that. In fact, he is planning for it.

And when he finally sets up his kingdom, he will have to resort to an unusual series of tactics to be be able to keep it alive and growing in the face of repeated invasions by the empire. But while his army of former ghosts may be able to frighten off normal human soldiers, what can Ambrose do against the Golden Horde, an army of wooden soldiers all carved by Gepetto, the Adversary? Will defeating them mean the end of Ambrose and his Kingdom of Haven?

I loved this book, which took one of the characters who was the most forgettable and seemed the most powerless, and made him into someone who was powerful because of his essential goodness and purity, showing how just that quality makes one more powerful than all the armies of Evil. Okay, Ambrose had a great deal of magical power on his side, along with the magic armor of Lancelot and the magic sword, Excalibur, but this was a wonderful story to read and redeemed many of the characters who had betrayed Fabletown in some way. Others, of course, not so much.

Interspersed with the story about Ambrose is the story of Fabletown and how it prepares for the coming battle with the adversary, and clears up a lot of minor mysteries, such as Snow White and Bigby's cubs finally being introduced to their sibling, Ghost, who is invisible and a Zephyr, due to Bigby's father being the North Wind. Other mysteries remain, but are hinted at, such as the source of Frau Totenkinder's power, which is apparently not a very nice source, and having to do with many, many deaths. I'm guessing it's not something as clean as ammunition manufacturing, with a glyph on the bullet that sends her the power of the death the bullets create.

Well, we'll soon see, and I'll be there to see it. Get this book, and if you haven't already, get this series. It's worth it, and then some.

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