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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Peter & Max: A Fables Novel

Title: Peter & Max: A Fables Novel

ISBN: 9781401215736

Price: $22.99

Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2009

Artist: Steve Leialoha

Writer: Bill Willingham

Rating: 4/5

This story stars Peter Piper and his incorrigible
brother Max in a tale about jealousy, betrayal and revenge. Set in two distinct
time periods, prepare to travel back to medieval times and learn the tragic
back-story of the Piper family, a medieval-era family of traveling minstrels.
Then, jump into the present to follow a tale of espionage as Peter Piper slowly
hunts down his evil brother for a heinous crime, pitting Peter's talents as a
master thief against Max's dark magical powers.

Based on the long-running and award-winning comic
book series FABLES, PETER AND MAX is its own tale. Readers don't have to be
familiar with the comics to fully enjoy and understand this book.

As you all know I love, love, LOVE Bill
Willingham and his Fables! When I heard Bill Willingham had another piece of
literature coming out I was very excited. Upon further reading I found that
this was a novel set in the Fables land and that it would provide some
background to different characters such as Bigby wolf and Frau Totenkinder so
clearly I had to own it!

Peter and Max is the story of two siblings, Peter
and Max Piper, the sons of a traveling family of minstrels. The story
alternates between the present, where Peter and his wife Bo Peep are living in
a quiet area of Fabletown and the past, where both Peter and Max partake in
many adventures and trials that mold them into the adults they become. In the
present day, Peter gets word that his evil brother Max has resurfaced in their
world and takes off to find him and kill him once and for all.

The flashes from their childhood shows the
friendships between the Piper and Peep family, especially the close ties
between Bo and Peter. One evening, Peter’s father gives him the magical flute,
Frost that has been handed down to the eldest son in each family for
generations. The only problem is that Peter is not the eldest brother, Max is.
Peter is the best musician, which is why their father deems him worthy to wield
Frost, but Max becomes extremely jealous and soon hatred starts to eat away at
him. Soon, the families are forced to flee due to the Adversary’s men
infringing on their land and the families become separated in the Black Forest.
Peter grows into a courageous, well-rounded man and eventually finds some sense
of peace. Max, on the other hand, meets up with an ally who gives him his own
flute, one he names Fire, becomes the famous Pied Piper of Hamelin and seeks to
kill both Peter and Bo.

One of the best things about this book is the way
in which Willingham takes what would be considered nursery rhymes and twists
them into something dark, mysterious and epic. Willingham manages to re-write
Peter Piper, who both eats a pickled pepper and stuffs his wife in a pumpkin
shell, the story of Little Bo Peep, who does lose her sheep in a rather dark
way, and the Pied Piper, who rids the town of more than rats; while also
introducing new plots and background stories for beloved Fables characters
before they changed their ways to fight on the side of good and not evil!

Though I don’t think Mr. Willingham should put
aside his Fables and work strictly on novels I have to say that I loved this
book and I believe that it would be enjoyable to readers who haven’t read and
loved his Fables series. However, for those of you who have read Fables and are
picking Peter and Max up for the first time you should know this book fits in
right after Fabletown’s attack on The Adversary and Peter and Bo both play their
own parts in the war by the end of the novel. 

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