When an unspeakable tragedy befalls a family of traveling minstrels, they become stranded and left for dead. Here in the heart of The Black Forest, Peter Piper and his older brother, Max, encounter ominous forces that will change them both irreparably.
Thus begins an epic tale of sibling rivalry, magic, music, and revenge that spans medieval times to the present day when their deadly conflict surfaces in the placid calm of modern-day Fabletown.
Writer Bill Willingham deftly weaves a story of adventure and dark fantasy that will keep listeners riveted until the final, fateful last words.
Fans of the ongoing Fables series will uncover the secret histories of some of their favorite characters, including Bigby Wolf, Frau Totenkinder and Bo Peep to name a few.
©2009 Bill Willingham; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"Though it toys with notions of mythology and its origins, this work still keeps true to the spirit of the Brothers Grimm: dark, fast-paced, moving and entertaining, with a few surprises along the way." (Publishers Weekly)
If you're a fan of the Fables series, or fractured fairy tales in general, then you'll enjoy this. Even if you've never read the Fables graphic novels, you're not really missing any back story to jump right in and revel in this fantastic story.
I know a previous reviewer had an issue with Wil Wheaton's narration, but I loved it! His different voices for the characters give them a dimension that other narrators sometimes miss the mark on.
All in all, give me more Fables stories!
Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving or riding my bike.
I long ago decided that I would never write a review about a book I had not finished which saved me from giving up on this one too soon. I found the opening chapters cloying and annoyingly cute. As much as I respect Wil Wheaton's work (often remarkably good), I think it was his reading which caused me to put the book aside after an hour and almost not return to it. His introductory narrative voice sounded as though it was aimed at a six year-old auditor and suggested that I was about to spend a large chunk of time wandering through a fairytale which had been cutely fractured.
After spending some time with a few other books, I decided to give Max and Peter one more chance to see if I could at least finish their story and review it. A couple hours later I realized that I was no longer cringing. Wil's voice had taken on a much richer and far less condescending timbre. His usual skill at creating audibly defined characters was operating nicely. And the fairytale setting had darkened and skewed somewhat so that I only recognized it when a familiar name appeared. Of course it still informed the plot, but in ways which were more imaginative and compelling than simply clever. I was, in short, enjoying the trip along this particular road which stretched between the piper's Hamlin and a farm in upstate New York and twisted, along the way, through some of the darker recesses of human behavior. I still could have done without the talking animals, but all in all I am quite happy that I finished the journey.
Let me just say: this book was amazing. I have not read the Fables graphic novels because graphic novels aren't really my thing, but this book was truly able to stand alone. I loved everything about it. The characters are interesting, if a little one-sided (it is a fable after all). I was completely immersed in the story from the very beginning and actually couldn't wait to go back to work so that I could listen to this in the car. Let's put it this way, I enjoyed this book so thoroughly that I'm reconsidering my stance on graphic novels, that's how eager I am to be back in the Fables mythos.
A Note on the Audiobook:
Wil Wheaton was a great reader. Archaic dialog is perilous for narrators because it's hard to read without sounding stilted. Wheaton did an excellent job and actually enhanced the story rather than just reading it. Bravo, Wheaton.
I'm not familiar with the Fables comic. I had listened to Ready Player One and liked Wil Wheaton's narration and bought this in part of the narrator and part because the story sounded interesting. It's a pretty good story, I'm a sucker for any fable or mythological storyline. Wheaton did a pretty good job. I read some complaints about some of his voices, but there are a lot of characters in this book and he does a pretty good job of keeping them from sounding alike. The one negative thing I will say is that I didn't like how the story bounced from Peter's past to Peter's present and Max's past to Max's present. I don't think that it could be written any other way but it was like watching a tennis game in fast forward.
The comic and the medium, the way we tell parables and parallel our lives with fiction so that created characters can become as close to you as any childhood friend. Bill Willingham has a firm grasp of the ancient art of writing fables and that Wil Wheaton can express the humanity in every odd little character in quiet little moment. It's been a long time since I was read a bedtime story and I'm glad this is the one they read to me. Good night.
I have to imagine a large percentage of readers and listeners of this piece will be fans of Willingham's Fables comic series. I've been following that series for a couple of years now and have never been disappointed by the high quality of storytelling and Willingham's ability to surprise me. Having finished listening to Peter & Max, I can tell you this story holds up quite nicely to the high mark set by Fables. That said, I think it's also clear that Mr. Willingham hasn't found his prose voice yet, despite the strength of his writing voice in comics. There were times I felt he tried too hard to describe a character or a character's feelings, when really I'd already formed the picture in my mind a couple of sentences earlier. There were also times where the writing was so wonderfully vivid that the scenes were quite evocative. The scene where Max attacks his father leaps to mind, where any doubt of Max's insanity and capacity for brutality were completely removed.
Wil Wheaton's reading I found to be quite pleasant. Only once or twice did I feel like he'd made a goofy choice of voice for a character, but in retrospect I think he did that quite on purpose to match the given scene. Some of his work was stunningly good, like his work as Frau Totenkinder. Also his timing as a reader, thanks to what I know are good sketch comedy chops, I find to be impeccable. If I have any complaints it would be that on several occasions he finished sentences with such a drop in volume that I often lost the last word of the sentence if I was listening in the car. Never a problem in headphones, only if there was ambient noise to deal with. (A side note: I highly recommend Wheaton's autobiographical book and audiobook, 'Just a Geek.')
It's clear that Willingham has tapped into a rich and fascinating world that can support stories in many mediums; I look forward to more prose and more comics!
Mommy of twins
Not really my usual preferred genre of read, but with a favorite narrator of mine, Wil Wheaton, at the helm I’d thought I’d give one of Bill Willingham’s fables a go. What I found in PETER & MAX: A FABLES NOVEL (Fabletown) was an entertaining enough tale of the “good” Peter Piper and his turned ever so “evil” and bitter older brother, Max Piper. Along with the brothers’ lengthy rivalry, malevolence and estrangement the story is also laced with cameos of several other classic fairytale characters; as their well known parables and legends play out and are cleverly entwined with our protagonists.
As I have not invested in any of Willingham’s other installment of the Fabletown series, I cannot say where this one falls by comparison; but as a standalone novel PETER & MAX was a charming enough read to hold my attention and interest to the end (with the help of Wheaton’s skillful performance).
For those of you who are familiar with the Vertigo Comic "Fables" then you are familiar with this world. Peter and Max is part of that world. For those who are unfamiliar, Peter and Max takes place in a realm where hundred of years ago a magical people immigrated into our mudane world fleeing from a great adversary who was conquering all their magical lands. These beigns where so magical that their very precence seemed to inspire people to write stories about them (although the "mundys" never got the stories quite right). Peter and Max is about Peter Piper and his brother Max and their eventual and almost deadly reunion since both left the Old Lands.
Bill Wllingham is a very imaginative author. His is a great Comics writer and this foray into prose narrative is well done. I have problems with some of his dialogue, its a little trite. Especially the dialogue between Peter and his wife (Bo Peep). And some of the events in the book seem pulled from other stories. Still it works well. And one of the thigs I love about the Fables series is the reimagining of papular characters like Bo Peep, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and the Black Forest Witch. If you liked Wicked, you'll probably like this.
This is one of the best audiobooks I have ever listened to. I love how Wil Wheaton brings the world of Fables to life. The story is engaging and exciting. Well worth the credit.
Wheaton outdid himself with this one. With such a varied cast of characters, he nevertheless manages to give each one a distinct voice that fits. Little Bo Peep and young Peter Piper made an adorable pair, and older Bo and Peter showed us the bitter sadness that had crept into their lives. It's not easy to do this, as other narrators might show you, but they achieved it here. I do not own the book, and I did not know the story prior, and that he kept me listening was a vast achievement indeed as I have been known to zone out even in the middle of books I'd loved when reading.
"I read this before the comics and *LOVED* it"
Exciting, dark, compelling
Peter. Most of the story is told from Peter's perspective and he is therefore the most developed character. I would also have loved to read the same story from Bo's point of view.
I have listened to quite a few audiobooks read by Wil and I would definitely say this is up there as one of the best. It helps that Bill Willingham is a stonkingly good writer, but Wil really brings the characters alive and he clearly loves the text. Every now and again you can hear a page turn, but there is not one falter or oddly running sentence.
I listen to books mostly whilst I am driving for work and am usually fairly disciplined at ONLY listening whilst driving (mainly so that I don't run through my credits too quickly!) - but I have to admit, I listened to Peter and Max almost non-stop. Best thing I have read in ages!
You definitely don't need to have read the comic books to get into this brilliant novel. I have played the video game The Wolf Among Us (a loose adaptation of some of the comics), but you really could come at this completely unaware of the Fables universe and still have a brilliant time. Highly recommended. One word of warning - you will definitely go and buy all of the comic books after reading!
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