Fables, Vol. 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers by Bill Willingham
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was really looking forward to reading this after the huge bomb dropped at the end of Fables, Vol. 3: Storybook Love. What an interesting plot reveal, and I was wondering how Willingham would follow up with it in this volume. It took me a while to get to it, and I ended up gobbling up the following volumes and Wolves of the Heartland (partly because of a due date at the library and also because the story captivates me so much).
Let's say that I was a happy camper even though this is one of the darkest books I've read so far in this series. I will be real and say that this volume was harder to read. Willingham pulls away any sort of security that you have about Fabletown and the protection of the citizens who ran away from their original lands because of the threat of the Adversary. Because the threat has followed them.
I couldn't stand the wooden soldiers. They were brutal and cruel and hateful. Worse because of their inhumanity. Think of the killer computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Think of spree killers. Yeah, that's a fair association. Maybe that is some sort of metaphor for the violent psychopaths that roam this world and seem to have no intention or cause but to wreak havoc on others. How wonderful to juxtapose the story of Snow and Bigby's awaiting a blessed arrival. Also, the story of the last bastion against the advance of the Adversary's forces...it read like one of those great epics where the warriors have to make their last stand and you know it won't end well (think 300, Glory, The Alamo), but you cheer them on anyway. It was heartbreaking, really. To see each person fall in their defense against the enemy and for Little Boy Blue to have to stand by and watch for a very important purpose.
Honestly, I needed this story because I got to know Little Boy Blue in a different, deeper way. I find that we often underestimate people. We assume they can't possibly have gone through tough times because they seem so innocent, so unsullied. Oh how wrong we are about Blue. His story is really affecting. He has lost so much. I admire him that he has moved on to form a semblance of life. I understand why. He's grown to be a favored character of mine now.
This is one of those books I wish I could read again, because so much happens. I read it fast, and took it all in, but it's something that I need to cogitate on, or ruminate. This is one of those kinds of books that has layers that I think will have more for you on each read. Let me tell you, when I am able to, I hope to buy copies of this whole series for my keeper collection.
Willingham, wow, he's doing it for me. I thought I loved fairy tales before. I finished this fairy tale audiobook that was so meh, I was wondering if they were losing their charm. But I'm glad I started reading this series when I did, because, I needed this. I needed to know I could love books as much as I did before. My bookloving dream was dying because I have had so much trouble connecting with books lately. This has been a good experience for me. Even though volumes like this are 90% painful with so much violence and ugliness and loss. I think like with Snow and Bigby's situation, there is some hope there. We have to walk through the pain to get to it, but it's there, because hope never dies.
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