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Northlanders: Book Two and Three

Three weeks ago I read Northlanders: Sven the Returned (Book One) and I said “This is a series (that continues on with different characters and dates) I will not continue.” Yet…here we are. When I heard that Book Three included a short story on Sven whose story was all of Book One, I ordered it. Then I thought, well, I should get Book Two just to keep it in order. Damn it all- I was hooked.

The Cross + The Hammer: Book Two

While Book One had taken place in AD 980 on the Orkney Islands of Scotland, this story takes place in occupied Ireland in the year AD 1014. The story centers around brute father Magnus and his pre-teen daughter Brigid who are on the run. Former monk Magnus is on a crusade to kill as many of the King’s men as he can while defending his homeland, despite having his beloved daughter by his side. Lord Ragnar, using unlikely detective skills (for that era) tracks this vigilante. But Ragnar is no noble Norse leader; he and his fellow soldiers leave as much destruction as Magnus does, each feeling their cause is worthy and justified.  Then the last chapter pulls the rug out from under you, and everything you thought about this father and daughter is suddenly upended. I had to re-read the concluding pages several times to truly understand what had just happened. Not all the pieces fit (you have to have a suspension of disbelief) but I applaud the author Wood for trying something new.

The artist is Ryan Kelly, different from the artist in Book One, and he ably recreates the Irish countryside and it’s inhabitants. The men are rugged and battle weary, but Brigid is always drawn as a beautiful waif, making her a studied contrast with her father.

Image result for northlanders the cross and the hammer

Blood in the Snow: Book Three

This volume is broken into several vignettes (similar to how Wood wrote Rebels), where as the two previous books dealt with one extended story at a time. While I at first only planned to read the last chapter about Sven, I was sucked into the other stories, that were all drawn by different artists.

Lindisfarne– Northern England AD 793: Teen Edwin hates his bitter father and older brother and when Vikings land near his home he leads them straight to his village. Conniving Edwin sides with the Northlanders and forever turns his back on his Saxon kin.

The Viking Act of Single Combat– Northern Europe AD 790-1100: Six generations of two neighboring lords battle regularly. Two ugly Vikings battle to the death. Whatevs.

The Shield Maidens– Danish Mercia AD 868: Three widowed Danes escape and become shield maidens who were women warriors who fought alongside men in Scandinavian folklore and mythology. They escape to an abandoned Roman fort and defend themselves against the invading Saxons. Fate is intertwined into the story, so how they succeed seems less due to their own prowess than just luck. The very dark coloring and lack of individualization of the three women made this female-centric story less powerful than it could have been.

Sven The Immortal– Oslo Norway AD 1009: Sven and Enna are back! As is original artist Gianfelice and his issue with eyes! Sven has been in exile for several decades when young men who want to prove their manhood by killing the fabled Sven Of Orkney, decide to find him. Sven sends his two children into hiding, and he and Enna prepare for the attack. These young bucks underestimate the greying Sven but he shows them that he can still battle with the best of them. While I won’t spoil how he and Enna persevere, I will say that I was extremely happy with the ending. Sven- who knew that your character would end up being so appealing to me?

There are seven books total in this Northlanders series, and while I truly don’t plan on reading the remaining four, never say never! ( Edit- I did, and loved the series! Books Four & Five, Six & Seven)

-Nancy

Image result for northlanders sven the immortal
Wood, Brain & various artists. Northlanders: Book Two + Three. 2009 +2010.

Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book 13)

Bufkin finds himself the leader of the revolution in Oz to overthrow the Nome King. Fabletown is moving into the ruins of Castle Dark, and they find quite a few surprises. In Haven, Beast is working around the clock to try to get around the deal he made with the Blue Fairy. Snow and Bigby’s children are starting to scatter according to Ozma’s prophecy: Winter at the Palace of the North Wind, Therese gone missing, and pack leader Darien setting out to bring her home. She was last seen carrying the toy boat she got for Christmas into the woods to play with it. It took her to the shores of what they call Toyland, but really is Discardia, a land of broken toys, and they are sure she can restore them…

Make sure you have a warm drink at the ready while reading this one. You’re going to need it when you’re done! It’s great to see the story shift to center a little more on the next generation of Fabletown, but it’s not without a price. The “Cubs in Toyland” arc is truly chilling. It’s amazing how GOOD the writing still is after all this time! The story still keeps you on your toes and keeps you guessing; nothing goes how you expect it to. Very near the end now – oh, how I hate to think of it!!!

– Kathleen

Willingham, Bill, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Shawn McManus, Gene Ha, and Andrew Pepoy. Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book 13). 2016.

Northlanders: Sven The Returned

Who knew Vikings were so emo?

As a huge fan of Brian Wood’s Brigg’s Land and Rebels series, I wanted to check out his earlier work and picked up this Viking saga set in a A.D. 980 on the Orkney Islands of Scotland. Norseman Sven, who has been banished from his ancestral home, returns home after his father’s death to claim his inheritance.  Continue reading “Northlanders: Sven The Returned”

Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Vol. 12)

Fabletown is gearing up for one last stand against the Dark Man. Pinocchio is assembling a team of the strongest Fables and, in what is seen as a hare-brained scheme by many other Fables, giving them costumes and superhero names reminiscent of those found in the comic books he loves to read. Meanwhile, at the Fortress of the North Wind, a motion to choose a new North Wind is underway. The North Wind has gone missing, leaving Bigby, Snow, and their children confused and hurt. The other Cardinal Winds move in, hoping to choose a child who’ll serve their own ends. The children think it’s obvious who the new king will be, but who ends up being chosen surprises all of them. Will the child step up to the challenge? Will Bigby and Snow be able to do what all parents must do at some point – let go?

What I like about this series is that nothing goes the way you expect it to – this volume was no exception. They could have titled this volume “Fables: Plot Twist Central”! I loved the arc about Pinocchio and his superhero scheme. This series isn’t afraid to poke fun at classic comic book tropes, and the end result is always hilarious. The cubs, thus far, have been more of a side story, and it’s fun to finally see them get more of the spotlight. Not much has gone on in Fabletown as far as “the next generation” goes, and it only adds a new element of intrigue to the story. I can’t wait to see where the story of the kids especially goes from here!

– Kathleen

Willingham, Bill, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Erick Shanower, Terry Moore, and Andrew Pepoy. Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Vol. 12). 2016.

Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book 11)

The threat of the Dark One is rising in New York, in the ruins of old Fabletown. He’s gathering Mundy minions to build him a castle. He’s the biggest threat Fabletown faces yet, but their forces are split. In the old Business Office, Bufkin, the Magic Mirror, and Frankenstein’s head are all trapped with the escaped Baba Yaga. The coven of witches up at the Farm are in the middle of a power struggle. King Cole, Beast, and Beauty are doing all they can to hold both human and animal citizens together, but with Rose Red still bedridden, there’s little hope of pacifying either side. Flycatcher, King of Haven, is struggling with his first ever court case. Does the divided Fabletown stand a chance against the Dark One, or will the divide make it easier for them to be destroyed?

This volume packed a lot of emotional punch. Snow White and Rose Red’s backstory is finally revealed, and drove me to tears at the end of their issue. Though we know some of Frau Totenkinder’s story already, we see her return to her roots to try to banish the Dark One. Beauty and Beast also find great happiness! Their character development has been among the best in the series. The art was pretty consistent throughout this book, with Mark Buckingham appearing most frequently. His whimsical, highly detailed art is most suited to this series, and he has such a way of capturing facial expressions to evoke exactly the emotion the story is supposed to. As ever, looking forward to more!

– Kathleen

Willingham, Bill, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Jim Fern, David Lapham, and Inaki Miranda. Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book 11). 2015.

Fables (The Deluxe Edition): Book Ten

It comes to the attention of Snow and Bigby that there is a villain out there who has the power to wipe away the entire universe – and rewrite it as he sees fit! The source of their information, is of course, unreliable… it’s Jack we’re talking about, after all. But for once, he isn’t playing around. He’s got backup to prove it too. They call themselves the Literals, and they are the embodiment of the literary devices. Kevin Thorn, the embodiment of storytelling, is the one causing trouble. The Fables, the Literals, and the Page sisters (the three embodiments of library sciences) have to find a way to stop him before he erases them all out of existence! Meanwhile, Jack makes his way back to the Farm. He has some unfinished business with Rose Red, and someone has some unfinished business with Jack himself…

This arc is called “The Great Fables Crossover” because it crosses over with Jack’s spin-off comic. This one didn’t do much for me. Mostly, I was confused on the characters outside of Fabletown. The Literals are many, and they weren’t well-introduced. They finally gave a cast of characters spread in part 8 – of 9. By that time I was almost through and didn’t bother going back to see who had said what or done what. Besides, just like Nancy said in her review of Jack of the Fables, Jack really is a huge jerk!

The next arc contained in this book, “Werewolves of the Heartland” was back to just Fables: a story about Bigby and an old friend from his WWII days. The art was really cool in this one! It looked almost like woodcutting or hatching. A good, spooky read for a cold and cloudy day ;D

– Kathleen

Willingham, Bill, Matthew Sturges, Mark Buckingham, Russ Braun, Tony Akins, Jim Fern, and Craig Hamilton. Fables (The Deluxe Edition): Book Ten. 2015.

Fables (The Deluxe Edition): Vol. 9

Working together, the Western and Arabian Fables, led by Prince Charming and Sinbad, have finally figured out a way to strike back against the Adversary and take back the Homelands. They’ve combined magic with Mundy technology, and the results are devastating to the Adversary and his forces. But the Adversary has one more trick up his sleeve, and he’s sure as hell not going down without a fight. Who will come out on top? And what kind of repercussions will this war have… on both Homeland and Fable territory?

As ever, there is much more packed into this volume than my short summary… I don’t want to give anything too important away =P The suspense of seeing how the war was going to turn out keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time – and even after, once the smoke clears and things start hitting the fan again. There were some issues drawn by other artists that I think missed the mark of the subject matter. Strange, because all others have been wonderful so far! Not a big deal, though. As always, I eagerly await the next volume.

– Kathleen

Willingham, Bill, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Niko Henrichon, Michael Allred, Peter Gross, and David Hahn. Fables (The Deluxe Edition): Vol. 9. 2014.

Fables (The Deluxe Edition): Book 8

Sooo… remember a few issues back when I mentioned Flycatcher got turned back into a frog for some reason? Well, he’s human again, but he’s got a glorious purpose! With the help of Lancelot’s ghost, Flycatcher dons Lance’s sacred armor and sets out to stake a claim in the Homelands – a claim that is his right as a prince. Meanwhile, Mayor Charming and Beast are working with Hansel, the Adversary’s ambassador from the Homelands. Each party has something the other desperately wants – but can they exchange goods without starting an all-out war?

This volume! Was so!! Good!!! Everyone loves a good underdog story, and boy is Flycatcher the ultimate underdog. To watch him struggle for his birthright after knowing his backstory, you can’t help but cheer for him. Since it was mostly one story, the art was consistent throughout, which was a bonus! A few new revelations from side characters made this volume pretty juicy and moving along at a fast clip. As always, can’t wait for the next volume!!!

– Kathleen

Willingham, Bill, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, and Andre Pepoy. Fables (The Deluxe Edition): Book 8. 2007.

Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book 7)

The secret mission Bigby carried out in the last volume has had a devastating effect on the Adversary’s regime in the Homelands. The enchanted forest, from which Geppetto was carving the wooden soldiers, has been destroyed. A council is called to decide how to strike back against Fabletown. It could end in all-out war. Meanwhile, back in New York, Mayor Charming has a lot on his plate. Poor Flycatcher has turned back into a frog, but they can’t figure out why. Not that they have time anyway, as they’re entertaining an emissary from the Homelands – the villainous Hansel. Charming and Beast are watching his every move. Up in Wolf Valley, near the Farm, Snow and Bigby’s cubs are growing up big and strong. They’re learning to control their powers, but as they turn five, are they ready to keep a big secret?

As always, the world of the Fables is widening with every volume. The tensions between Fabletown and the Homelands are coming to a head, and I’m very anxious to see how everything turns out! It’s also really been fun to watch the cubs grow up – they’re so adorable! The art tends to go really cartoony when the cubs are involved, and a little more realistic when serious stuff is going down, which is a great visual touch. Bonus stories in this volume include a few short comics about different Fables we haven’t seen before, and a whole issue dedicated to answering fan questions, which was really fun! Looking forward to the next volume, as per us ❤

– Kathleen

Willingham, Bill, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Michael Allred, and Aaron Alexovich. Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book 7). 2013.

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