This book feels rushed. There’s something to be said about how Willingham had over the course of a year or so to plan for this grand exit, but yet it feels like lots of things are conveniently but not always convincingly tied up in a bow.
One of the worse culprits is this feeling of an artificially jacked up reason for the two sisters to fight. The situation that brought this to a head, from the point when sisterly feelings were put on hold at the point where Rose decided to ‘reform’ instead of punishing Prince Brandish (a dastardly villain who killed Snow’s husband Bigby), to the cusp of all out battle between the sisters, seemed like a mere several months. This is of course opposed to the thousands and thousands of years Rose and Snow have been together, with myriad opportunities for this ridiculous flare-up to occur (especially during the time when they were actually not on speaking terms, and Snow wasn’t married with children).
Rose Red and Snow White were still having drinks together when Bigby was discovered to have come back, despite the supposed backroom dealings that’s going on in amassing their respective armies. Snow, in particular, doesn’t seem very convinced on their need to go to war, and who can blame her? This seemed to abrupt not only to her but to me as well.
This is after all a comic, and everything has its time and place, and it is here that the stage is set for all the characters to exit more or less gracefully.
A lot of characters that I actually loved died over the course of the last and this volume. Especially considering how the battle was resolved, this was a massive anti-climax and a complete waste of lives. It also highlighted another ongoing problem I had with Fables – how a Fable ‘dies’. Do they or don’t they? Apparently the rule set early on in the series is Fables who hold strong sway over the lives of the mundies due to their popularity will always come back despite, well, dying. The more popular they are, the more likely they’ll come back. However that doesn’t explain why some of the characters which I’d consider pretty damn standard don’t come back. It gets even worse as it gets closer to the end, since it becomes apparent that these supposedly popular characters don’t make a reappearance anymore.
I’ve found over the years, when it comes to stories, I’m a sentimental guy. I may not portray any outward emotions; my Bookbabble gang has lovingly pegged me as a heartless bastard because I didn’t cry at the end of ‘The Road’ (‘lovingly’ is the right word, right, guys? Right?), but nevertheless I have a fondness for them.
Fables, over the course of its long run, has always occupied a very special place in my heart for its treatment of Bigby and Snow, specifically the special relationship between them and them with their kids. The only time I’ve ever shed tears while reading remains a singular issue of Fables (not this volume), playing the father-son relationship card. I think being a father changes you, and the stories you can relate to. Willingham is a clever writer, and the ending to this monumental series, while not perfect, is fitting, neat if a little rushed, and satisfying. A touching, slightly emotional finale.
Thank you, Fables crew. You will be missed.