This was a great return to the old Fables style after the mediocre distraction of The Great Fables Crossover
last volume. In fact, there was a lot in this book that is what I loved about this series in the first place. Previously minor characters suddenly rise in importance. Comic relief sidekicks take A Level of Badass
. We get some background information about the Empire, old threads in the storyline we thought forgotten are brought back into play, and the main story arc moves forward (albeit only a little).
So, first we get the backstory on Mister Dark and how he was imprisoned in the first place. (Basically, the Empire sacrificed thousands and thousands of sorcerers to take him down.) This turns out not to be mere history, as the book ends with Frau Totenkinder (who incidentally has wrapped up the knitting she's been doing since the series began, figuratively and literally, and reassumed her true form) seeking out the one surviving sorcerer who was a part of that campaign.
Meanwhile, the witches of the 13th floor (which doesn't exist anymore now that Fabletown is in ruins) are getting ready to rumble, and Ozma wants to take leadership away from Frau Totenkinder. So when Totenkinder takes a walk between worlds without telling anyone, Ozma seizes the opportunity. Ozma is quite a cute little badass, but though we know that little girl exterior hides an ancient, powerful being, I think she's still a little kid compared to Frau Totenkinder, so this probably isn't going to end well.
Gepetto escapes from his tomb (like we didn't know he would) and makes a bid to seize control of the Farm. Right back to his old tricks. And Rose Red is still a human wreck, depressed and emaciated and trying to hide from the world.
All that was interesting enough, but of course the main part of this story was Bufkin the flying monkey taking down a True Djinn and Baba Yaga. Yes, the flying monkey singlehandedly (well, not quite, he has a little help, and I mean a little
help) defeats two of the most powerful beings in existence. That. Was. Awesome.
The story at the end gave us a little tale of Flycatcher's kingdom, where he finds out that ruling over an uneasy confederation of humans, talking animals, and goblins isn't going to be as easy and bloodless as he thought. But he and Red Riding Hood finally have their moment! Woo hoo -- so one more long-suspended story-brick finally falls into place.
Next volume should see some major cans of whoop-ass being opened up, and the Fables and Mister Dark getting serious
, or I will be very disappointed.