Hugos pre-read: Fables 11 and 12

Fables Vol 11: War and Pieces – Bill Willingham
This is it, the war between the Fables and the Adversary finally begins. It’s an intense, brilliant volume and I had to admire the ruthlessness and brilliance of the Fables’ plan. Prince Charming finally showed why he is a great tactician, all the elements of the last few volumes came together and I was gripped throughout. As always, Wallingham didn’t go where I expected him to go with some of the storylines and the final reveals surprised me. It is one of the things that I have been loving about Fables, the inability to predict what will happen next. Various characters were given their moments of glory – not always the ones that I expected – and it was both an intense and hopeful end to this arc of the Fables story.

Fables Vol 12: The Dark Ages – Bill Willingham
The Adversary has been defeated but that isn’t the end of the story by a long way. This volume is dark, horrific in places, and sets up a number of threads that I think are going to be played out in the future. There is a lot to clean up after the war and we learn quite early on that although the Adversary was evil, he may have been doing some good after all by keeping much worse things at bay. I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting any of this and hadn’t been sure how the series could keep going after the last volume. None of this feels like stretching things out, more like the previous eleven volumes have been the prelude to something much bigger.

Hugo pre-read: Fables 9 and 10

Fables Vol 9: Sons of Empire – Bill Willingham
Most of this volume is dedicated to two plots: Bigby, Snow and family visiting Bigby’s estranged father and the Adversary holding a “what do we do next” summit. Both plots are equally fascinating. Although the Fables are a smaller, less powerful group in some ways it is becoming obvious that in many ways they are equally matched to the Adversary. War is coming and there is now a time-limit on when things will start. At the same time, finding out a bit more about Bigby’s background was very interesting. It gives us a better understanding of him and I’m starting to really enjoy watching the way that the cubs are growing. In all, a solid and compelling volume in the series.

Fables Vol 10: The Good Prince – Bill Willingham
Flycatcher has been kind of a running joke through much of the Fables series. He spends his life working off endless community service orders by acting as janitor for the Woodlands, mild mannered and often a bit clueless. This is the volume where we finally understand exactly what he is and I have to admit, I loved this. It maybe my favourite volume so far. His background before the Adversary, what he had done since and how the entire population of Fabletown have acted to protect him from his past was obvious once it was explained but I had no idea before this. His actions as he recovers his memories and finds a different way to combat the Adversary were just brilliant. It think that I was holding my breath with Blue Boy and the others each time his story was on the page. Willingham didn’t forget about the rest of Fabletown in the meantime and his solutions to the problems of how they can fight the Adversary are quite brilliant. The heart of the story, though, is Flycatcher and it was wonderful.

Hugo pre-read: Fables volumes 7 and 8

Fables Vol 7: Arabian Nights (and Days) – Bill Willingham
If most other fictional fairy tale-type creatures appear in Fables, then it is only appropriate that the characters from the Arabian Nights tales also make an appearance. This was a shorter volume that felt like a bit of a fill-in, but it did set up a number of interesting things for future volumes.

Fables Vol 8: Wolves – Bill Willingham
Bigby hasn’t been seen for a while and it is thankfully time to bring him back in this volume. It includes the 50th issue, which was a beautifully long one appropriate for such a milestone. Although a lot of this volume is about Bigby, Snow and their family there is still a lot going on in Fabletown and the battle with the Adversary isn’t forgotten. I really enjoyed the mixture of happy, good things happening against the background of big events. Bigby’s store is, as always, interesting and unexpected. Willingham is really building up a detailed, fascinating world in these books.

We’re all going on a summer holiday…

By the time anyone reads this, I will be in the wilds of south east England. I may be posting a bit or I may not – it’s largely dependent on how exhausted I am by the insane schedule I’ve set myself.

I’ve calculated that, out of the fifteen days that I’m away, only five do not have definite all day plans. Yet. The second week is going to be less frantic than the first week so I could add an activity or two depending on how I’m feeling. There is a solid chance that people will be sitting on me to force me to rest if I start getting that grey-green look that I get just before I collapse.

Many of my activities involve a fair bit of travel (planes, trains and automobiles are literal here) so there is going to be a fair bit of reading time despite my schedule. Thus, I spent a couple of evenings loading up my Kindle and iPad with the following:

Huntress by Malinda Lo
Enna Burning by Shannon Hale
The House on Durrow Street by Galen Beckett
Feed by Mira Grant (Hugo pre-read)
Deadline by Mira Grant (Hugo nominee)
A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin (Hugo pre-read)

New Avengers Breakout
New Avengers Sentry

Plus the latest couple of issues of Batgirl, Nightwing, Demon Knights, Stormwatch, Saucer County, X-Men and Wolverine, Avengers Assemble and the new Black Widow prequel. I’ve also got three issues of Asimov’s to catch up on.

As I’m also planning to hit a lot of bookshops while I’m away, it looks like I shouldn’t run out of reading material 🙂

Hugo read: The Unwritten Volume 4

I’ve now officially read the first of the Hugo nominated graphic novels and I have to say, it was very good and I can see why it’s on the list.

45. Unwritten Vol. 4: Leviathan – Mike Carey
This may be my favourite volume yet of this series. It continues some of the plot points from previous issues, gives equal page time to all of our heroes and has some wonderful thoughts on where and how the characters can move between the different books they’re negotiating. I am particularly fond of the idea that the ocean is the same ocean in all books featuring oceans and so it can be used to travel between certain books. Tommy was initially a fairly selfish character but he’s grown a lot and I’m getting very intrigued about the hints that are coming through about his background and why he is Tommy Taylor. A couple of things were sort-of tied up but the volume left me itching for the next one to find out what happens next.

Hugo pre-read: Fables (volumes 2 to 4)

Um, I’m still stuck on the Avengers squee. So have some Fables reviews that I wrote over the last couple of weeks. Having to read most of the Fables back catalogue in order to read the Hugo nominated volume is definitely not a chore!

Fables Vol. 2: Animal Farm – Bill Willingham
Revolution is fomenting on the Farm and at the same time, Snow White decides that Rose Red’s punishment for her scam in the first volume is that she will have to accompany Snow on her annual Farm inspection. The Farm is where all the fairy tales that cannot easily blend into the city live and they are fed up. The prominent involvement of the pigs – and their communist leanings – echoed the George Orwell book but this is definitely a Fables story. I enjoyed the glimpses that I got of the different non-human societies and it was fun to play spot the fairy tale as I read. The deeper ideas were handled well, there was some great humour, and the final resolution was satisfying and fun.

Fables Vol 3: Storybook Love – Bill Willingham
This volume collects a couple of stand-alone stories along with the Storybook Love arc. It was the main arc that I enjoyed most and I think that is because it focused heavily on Bigby and Snow, two characters that I’ve quickly grown to love. Bluebeard has finally had enough of their interference and with one character from Animal Farm still on the run, puts together a plan to quietly get rid of Bigby and Snow. As with any cunning plan it backfires somewhat and Prince Charming, oddly enough, also becomes involved in protecting Snow. Charming is rapidly growing into a character that you love to loathe: he’s selfish, vain and greedy. At the same time it’s easy to see how he fooled beautiful princesses into marrying him! One of the things that I’m enjoying about this series is the way that our expectations for fairy tale characters are turned upside down regularly It’s fun installment in a series that gets better as it goes on.

Fables Vol 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers – Bill Willingham
War comes to the Fables in this book and the reader gets some more hints about the Adversary and how he/it operates. There are a couple of seemingly disconnected stories at the beginning of the volume and they pay off midway through. This was a more serious story than the previous one and it left a lot of questions unanswered. I found the final two or three ‘chapters’ completely compelling and I couldn’t put it down as I worried for the characters I’ve become attached to. Willingham is not afraid to kill his characters when necessary for a story.

I believe my reaction was ‘squee’

I am an enourmous dork. And a huge geek. I know, it’s a shocker. Nobody was expecting that.

That would explain why I was rather incoherently squeeing all over Twitter Saturday evening after seeing The Avengers. Hint: I loved it rather a lot. I’m even considering a second viewing, which is something I rarely do (I’ve only done it for Star Trek in 2009 and Return of the King, which I racked up 4 trips to).

It is also why I have spent the last two days in a whirl of LJ, Tumblr and Twitter rather than actually doing any useful reading.

It’s also why there are several Avengers books on hold at the library (I suspended them until June 1st when I sobered up and remembered that I’ll be going on vacation just as they arrive) and why I conducted a small Comixology raid for Avengers stuff. Oops? At least they were on sale?

Comixology: one of my favourite iPad apps. This week there are new issues of Batgirl and Demon Knights, by the way, so my poor iTunes account will be getting another workout.

Normal service will resume when my Avengers squee has worn off a bit. Hopefully.

I have a confession

I’m having a bit of a comics addiction right now. The lovely Comixology app for my iPad is entirely to blame: the comics look amazing and it’s so easy to just press ‘Buy’ and download new things.

Not that I’m complaining 😀

I tried a few times in my teens and early twenties to get into comics but the lack of availability (no local comic shop, WH Smith usually only had one or two issues out of each run and then a series would disappear) and lack of knowledge on where to start made it pretty near impossible.

The Internet makes it pretty easy to figure out where to start with different series and I even now know about comics outside the standard DC/Marvel superhero arena. Marvellous! More