Fables: Legends in Exile

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fables vol 1

Into the woods we go! The Fables Buddy Read and Blog Tour has begun. Check it out here and at Come Hither Books for more information. Up first is Bill Willingham’s Legends in Exile, the first installment in the Fables series. We are introduced to many fairy tale characters that we know and love whether it be from Grimm’s fairy tales or even Disney movies. There’s the big bad wolf, Bigby in the Fables realm, Snow White, and even Beauty and the Beast. However, these aren’t quite the characters that we all think we know. The fairy tale characters in Willingham’s universe are tinged with noir. The women are beautiful and deadly, the men a bit grizzled and jaded. These characters have lost it all and have had to rebuild their lives in Manhattan, away from their fairy tale happy ever afters.

This first installment centers on Snow White and Bigby’s search for what happened to Snow’s sister Rose Red, a link back to the old Grimm’s fairy tale. Their search leads them all over the Fable community where we are able to meet other familiar characters. The plot takes many queues from Agatha Christie, with Bigby becoming a bit like her Poirot. The clues are scattered throughout the novel cleverly and with precision, including the occasional red herring. The ending reads much like a Golden Age mystery, with a big reveal at the end where all characters are present in one fashion or another.

So far I’m loving this series and can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Discussion Questions:

1. Are the personalities of the characters in Bill Willingham’s Fables series, such as Snow White and Prince Charming, exaggerated versions of people or closer to our own reality?

2. In what way did the Fables fairy tale characters surprise you?

3. For fun, which character so far is your favorite and why?

I hope you have as much fun reading this series installment as I did. Happy reading!

11 responses »

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  2. My favorite character so far is Bigby. I’m a huge noir fan, and I love the gruff, intense detective that bludgeons his way through a case and is far more intelligent that he lets on. On the surface, he’s more about attitude and atmosphere than tracking the clues down. But still, he gets the job down and figures out what’s really happening.

    Other reasons why:
    * It cracked me up to have the pig crash at his apartment. And then have Bigby offer him ham for breakfast. Awesome.
    * I love that he still transforms into a literal wolf when he loses his temper.
    * I’m not so sure what I think about Snow White & Bigby yet, but it did greatly amuse me for him to fake an investigative reason for her to go to the celebration with him. As well as his complete awkwardness when dancing.

    Speaking of noir:
    I also found the mystery itself pretty interesting. I’m not as used to processing clues visually and the reveal was really interesting. In prose, I know I would’ve zeroed in on those clues and had a pretty solid guess by the time we got to the reveal. But visually, I didn’t catch the significance of them. I read graphic novels a lot, but I still don’t process the visual information with nearly as much analytical attention as I do text. So I really enjoyed the mystery for making me realize that.

    (I’m at work, so I’ll be popping in and out with comments instead of answering everything all at once. Which is probably better for discussion anyway…) Loving this. 🙂

    • Your character analysis of Bigby is so spot on! He’s a lot like Columbo in a way. He’s rumpled and bumbling but in reality he’s processing every detail and cataloging information as he goes along.
      So far I think my favorite character is Snow White. I love her re-characterization. She doesn’t take crap from anyone and has really taken over the reins of Fabletown. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go out there and grab it. She’s smart, sophisticated, and determined. I also really enjoyed the little glimpse at Beauty and the Beast and their marriage in the very beginning.
      I completely agree with you about processing visual vs. textual clues. I noticed that Bigby was touching things in the apartment but didn’t but two and two together until the big reveal. I also liked the way Willingham used the mystery/whodonit aspect to introduce us to many fairy tale characters.
      I can’t wait to see what’s in store for volume 2! 🙂

      • Snow White is probably the character who surprised me the most. With being deputy mayor and the dark hair/pale skin combo, I think I was subconsciously associating her with Regina from Once Upon A Time in the beginning. She does play a bit of an antagonist role in the investigation, but she’s definitely not a villain. It made her an interesting character to discover as I read, because it was a process of what was on the page slowly overcoming the idea I had in my head (and didn’t even realize until I thought about why I’d assumed she was the villain afterwards).

        For other characters, I loved the way they showed Beauty and Beast too. The idea of him looking beastly/human to whatever degree she’s in love with him at the moment is fantastic. And I like the observation that it’s hard work to make a relationship last for centuries (especially contrasted with the omg awfulness of Prince Charming).

        It’d be even harder when you can’t hide your irritations and frustrations because it shows physically for everyone, especially him, to see. There’s no keeping it to yourself to allow time to get over it, or making a conscious decision to let it go. Nope, it shows up on his face no matter how much you keep from expressing it. That would make marriage even more difficult.

      • Snow White definitely plays a great antagonist and foil for Bigby. I felt in a way she played the everyman’s character. The one that questions the detective about the choices they’re making and provides the thought pattern many of the readers are thinking. It was a stretch for me as well to get rid of the Disney fairy tale version of Snow White and take in this new version of her. All of those Disney fairy tale versions of princesses are so stuck in our collective subconsciouses it’s hard to put them aside and accept something different. But I liked this Snow White. She’s so self assured and self reliant. I also really liked that Willingham brought in her little known sister Rose Red into the picture.
        Beauty and the Beast made such a great appearance. I loved their old married couple schtick. It reminded me a lot of Ralph and Alice Kramden from The Honeymooners.
        I love your comment about not being able to hide your inner feelings, like in the Beast’s case. I thought that was so interesting to be so dependent on another person for your survival in this new world.
        Prince Charming was the worst. I liked the thought that everyone’s Prince Charming is the same, Snow White’s and Cinderella’s. He’s such a pig type playboy it’s hard to connect to his character. I’ll be interested to see how his character grows in the next installments!

      • Boo, Prince Charming. He’s the most exaggerated character we’ve met so far. Beast and Bluebeard I can find something familiar, but Prince Charming is such an over the top cad he’s impossible. Even the pig and frog prince seemed more human!

        I’ll be interested to see what they do with him as well. I do hope they make him more layered than he’s been so far. 🙂

      • I have to say that I can’t wait to see what other fairy tale characters start popping up. Is there one character in particular you’d like to see in this series?

      • Hmmm… Good question.

        Maybe Rumplestiltskin, because I always like a sly hard to pin down character. Though he’s been done in Once Upon a Time pretty significantly.

        I’ll go with Goldilocks, then. It’d be interesting to see how Fables interprets her in modern terms, and she isn’t done quite as often.

      • Both would be very interesting!! I’d love to see Goldilocks as well. I think I’d also like to see Aurora/Briar Rose. I feel like she’s one of the least known princesses.

  3. Pingback: Fables Review | Come Hither Books

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