Fables: The Last Castle
by Bill Willingham, Craig Hamilton, P. Craig Russell (Vertigo, 2003)

This prequel to Bill Willingham's excellent Fables series takes readers back to the time before the last of the surviving fairy-tale characters fled the Homelands for New York City. In The Last Castle, the boundless armies of the Adversary have found the final stronghold and are determined to destroy every last one of the survivors huddled within.

Told through the eyes of Boy Blue, this brief tale describes the heroic last acts of many well-known storybook characters and the general high spirits with which they met their end. Although hopeless, they know every second they can delay their foes gives the last boatload of refugees more time to escape the Homelands for a friendlier clime.

More personally poignant is Blue's story of romance with Red Riding Hood, now all grown up, who arrives at the stronghold just moments ahead of the enemy troops. Her story here, entwined with his, ends with the perfect cruel twist so prevalent in classic tales. And, for fans of the ongoing series, this prequel fills in some noteworthy gaps in our knowledge.

Illustrations by penciller Craig Hamilton and inker/layour artist P. Craig Russell are not as finely wrought as we've come to expect from Willingham's usual artist, Mark Buckhingham, but they tell the story in a pleasant storybook fashion. All in all, The Last Castle is a valuable addition to the Fables canon.

review by
Tom Knapp

14 June 2008

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