This volume of Fables marks a lot of changes for our fairy tale characters. We are, of course, familiar with the adversary and the fact that our characters are in exile in the mundane world because of the destruction that this mysterious enemy wrought. This, however, is the first time that we experience the adversary as an active threat in more than a flash-back capacity.
To begin with, I really enjoyed learning of Boy Blue's tragic and romantic back story. I think what makes Fables special is it's ability to take characters who most of us feel that we know, since we've heard since childhood, and cast them in an entirely different light--for better or worse. So seeing a romance for Boy Blue and Red Riding Hood.
Snow White is continuously fantastic. She basically organizes a defense against an army that marches on Fabletown, and she does so while pregnant and piled down with worries. I'm deeply invested in he story, at this point, and I would love for her and Bigby to find some shred of happiness.
I thought the wooden soldiers, and the way that they are introduced with their connection to Pinocchio, were very clever indeed. They're very much like the Mr. Smiths of the Matrix, with their frightening one track minds and utter disposability. But more importantly, they seem to represent a larger danger that I'm sure we'll see more of in future books.
Finally, in this book we begin to see Prince Charming campaigning for mayor against King Cole. This entire subplot is pathetically hilarious, with the prince making ridiculous promises that you know will land him far in over his head. When I actually read this, the US was in the midst of our election and...it definitely reflected reality.
My final conclusion on this book is that, it is perhaps not my favorite story arc yet, but it was still quite strong. I didn't feel that it had the emotional impact of some of the previous installments, but it had a lot of cleverness and humor that left me wanting more. 4 stars.