Fables of Arabia || 1001 Nights of Snowfall Review

Initial Thoughts:

I’m really sad that it ended! I would have loved to hear more stories that Snow told of the Fables in the early days, even though for the most part, we get a bunch of that narrative in the actual series. All the same, this was super enjoyable!

FABLES: 1001 NIGHTS OF SNOWFALL

by Bill Willingham
Vertigo, October 2006
Graphic novel, fairy tales
Rated: 4.5 / 5 cookies

Traveling to Arabia as an ambassador from the exiled Fables community, Snow White is captured by the local sultan who wants to marry her (and then kill her). But clever Snow attempts to charm the sultan instead by playing Scheherazade, telling him fantastic stories for a total of 1001 nights, saving her very skin in the process.

Running the gamut from unexpected horror to dark intrigue to mercurial coming-of-age, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall reveals the secret histories of familiar Fables characters through a series of compelling and visually illustrative tales. Writer Bill Willingham is joined by an impressive array of artists from comic book industry legends to the amazing young painters of the next wave.

I will preface this review by letting you know that I am a big Fables fan. I have been since Volume 2 and I have quite literally two more volumes to go before I’m finished with the series. So it’s kind of weird that I haven’t read this particular volume until recently.

And like most of the Fables volumes I’ve read, I really enjoyed this one.

While 1001 Nights of Snowfall is listed down as book 7 of the Fables series, it’s not exactly within the series itself. I consider it a #7.5, as it were, because it really is a spinoff and standalone. It does deal with Arabian Fables, which makes sense that it was called #7, in conjunction with the actual volume 7, which is Arabian Nights (And Days).  In this particular case, though, the story takes place centuries before the actual Fables storyline.

And for those who haven’t read or want to know where to start with Fables, I’d probably recommend this volume, if only to put one’s toe into the water. That said, I would also like to make note that different artists were responsible for each story, which means Mark Buckingham, the main artist of the series, illustrated just one. I tend to point this out because varied artists usually play a part on how much I like a volume. Sometimes the fact that there are different artists takes away from my enjoyment, but other times the stories luck out because those helming the illustrations are a bunch of awesome talent.

1001 Nights of Snowfall is, fortunately, an assortment of the latter. It makes sense, considering who was recruited to fill up the pages of Willingham’s short stories. A few of the artists I’d been familiar with from previous works (Thompson, Bolland, Andrews, Buckingham of course). The others were just as great. All in all, I thought the artwork as a whole was fantastic.

But, of course, I’m biased, and most of this bias comes from the fact that Willingham’s short stories about his popular Fables characters were brought to life again on the page. Many of the backstories were fleshed out in 1001 Nights of Snowfall, including Snow’s background with Prince Charming, her fencing lessons (which come into play in Volume 19), and Bigby’s immense hatred for his father (which, to be honest, is a major part of the later Fables issues). It was also fun just to see other Fables get their origin stories, including some of my secondary favorites like Frau Totenkinder and Ambrose.

There was a lot to take in, and honestly, Snow could have kept going with her tales and I would have devoured every thing she told. But I suppose Willingham couldn’t keep going for a thousand nights and a night, haha.

4.5 out of 5 cookies!

Have you read this volume? What did you think?

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Season 2, Episode 1: 1001 Nights (or Arabian Nights)

Here’s a little early return to our regular programming! Episode 1 of Season 2 is now up on Fableulous Retellings, and for the next few weeks, we’ll be all up on some Arabian Nights love. Here’s a fun (okay, semi-fun) fact about me: the framework tale of the 1001 Nights has been a personal favorite tale of mine. There’s nothing more badass than a female who saves lives and kicks ass with the use of her words and her abundance of stories.

Check out our first episode now!

Fableulous Retellings Podcast

Meg and Mari are back a little sooner than you would expect! They have started up season 2 and didn’t take it easy as they tackled the original 1001 Nights in their opening episode. Here’s a quick peak at some of the things discussed in this episode:

Why did we pick 1001 Nights?

  • Richard Francis Burton
  • The over-arching Arabian Nights’ story
  • How Eunuchs became Eunuchs
  • A Man gets embarrassed by farts
  • What the heck is vermicelli cake? (Seriously about half an hour of us talking about vermicelli cake has been cut) and so much more!

Follow us on social media, and don’t forget to rate and review us!

FacebookTwitter | Instagram | Website | Email: fableulous@gmail.com

Join us every Tuesday for a new episode!

Thank you to BenSound for our theme music and VidaLovesCake for our artwork!

Check out this episode!

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Mini Reviews: Arabian Nights, The Wicked + The Divine

Whoo! Catching up on more light reading before hunkering down to the big stuff (although, yes, snort at the fact that “light reading” encompasses a partial re-read of a 1,000-page tome…). In any case, I’ve got some book mini reviews for you!

I will say that my sub-par rating for Arabian Nights is not on the stories themselves. This was mostly a skim-read, with a focus on a few stories, so it still stands to date that I have NOT read the entire translated work of Richard F. Burton. It’s also likely that I won’t, because my problem lay not in the stories, but in the archaic translation. It would be nice to have a more reader-friendly copy, if only to keep my attention span from sputtering from lack of paragraphs and the random times people broke into verse within the pages.

As for The Wicked + The Divine, I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to start reading this series! Very enjoyable, albeit somewhat confusing as a first volume. I’m hoping many of my questions gets answered later on, though.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

Love from the Stars, to the Stars || The Rose & the Dagger Review

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Initial Thoughts:

As the second–and concluding–book of The Wrath & the Dawn duology, it delivered all the promises the first book made. And it did so with a language that was a mixture of poetry and song, in a setting that was filled with wonder and magic–both literally and metaphorically. And hot damn. Those characters and their sort of…togetherness. Loved them to bits.

THE ROSE & THE DAGGER

by Renee Ahdieh
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, April 2016
YA fairy tale fantasy
Rated: 5 / 5 cookies

rosedaggerThe darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

Note: As The Rose & the Dagger is the second–and final–book of The Wrath & the Dawn, expect spoilers from the first book.

Last We Heard…

Not too long ago (read: less than a month ago, actually), I’d listened and reviewed The Wrath & the Dawn in preparation for a book signing I was attending the same month. If I’d liked the book well enough, I was determined to own both hardcovers, because hey, it’s a duology, which meant Rose would conclude the story I fell in love with in Wrath.

Which meant an end to the cliffhanger of book one. Which I had fortunately only finished weeks back, so my wait for book two was not as long as most people who’d read Wrath and gone “WHAT. YOU CAN’T LEAVE US HERE. NOOOO. WANT. MORE.”

So by the end of the first book, I had a ton of questions I wanted answered, like, NOW.

Clearly the duology is a love story first and foremost, between Shazi and Khalid. But how does Tariq deal? Is he going to the path of eeeeeevil or does he redeem himself? Do we see more than a glance of Irsa for once? How are the people in Rey dealing with the aftermath of the fire? Are Jalal and the Rajput hanging on? Will Despina and Jalal work through their angsty romance? Is Musa going to re-feature now that it’s clear magic runs in the al-Khayzurans? Is Shazi going to fly her magic carpet back to Rey? Is Khalid going to be separated from Shazi the entire bookARE PEOPLE GOING TO DIE?!

Yeah, soooo many questions. And theories. And nervousness. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if the second book would live up to the first, and I adored the first.

I shouldn’t have worried. My glass ceiling was shattered enough times and I will say I loved The Rose & the Dagger much more than I did the first book.

And let me tell you why.

The Story is Practically a Love Poem

“Where is your heart, Shahrzad al-Khayzuran?” His voice was coarse in its insistence.

In an alley by the souk. In a night of oblivion.

In the promise of tomorrow.

First of all, Ahdieh writes beautifully. It could probably explain why, when I listened to the audiobook of Wrath, I was moved and soothed by the narration. It was lyrical and poetic and magical, and most of all, it told the story of Scheherazade in a way I’d often imagined it being told. I have yet to read Wrath in text form, but I plan to, if only to read the bits and pieces I loved in the retelling.

She’d always loved dusk. It was as though a hand in the sky had pulled the sun from its berth…only to have the sun fight back, resisting, leaving a trace of itself to fade amongst the stars.

Of course, with beautiful writing comes beautifully quotable descriptions. I mean, egads, the amount of times I’d taken pictures of pages just so I can quote them in this review.

The wonder of Shahrzad. Shazi goes through a lot of angst–and growth–throughout the two books. By Rose she’s able to temper a number of her emotions. She is no longer as angry as she had been in Wrath, and she has a couple of goals in mind that she wants to see through. One is to help her father. The other is to figure out Khalid’s curse. Another is to fix the mess of the impending war between two powerful nations. And only by figuring these things out will she finally be able to go Home. And yes, I capitalize that for a reason.

“Since you can’t say it, will you at least tell me how much you love me?”

“From the stars, to the stars.”

Khalid you beautifully dangerous man, you. Okay, I will admit it now. I fell in love with Khalid. I mean, I loved him in Wrath. How could I not with his lovely poetic letters and his flashing golden eyes and his expert swordsmanship? (I honestly had to tell myself “Whoah, Mari, down, the guy’s an effing serial killer, remember that?” And yes, I am aware things get better because there’s a reason behind his dilemma–which has lots to do with the ruthless calculus of curses and death.) He still constantly makes quips that made me squee every single time. And like Shazi, he struggles and grows.

The magic is real. And there’s much more of it in Rose, to a point where Shazi comes to her own magic–with the help of the people at the Fire Temple. Musa was lovely, but it was Artan that held my attention. Artan Temujin is first introduced in Rose and I have to say I loved him from the getgo. He’s an interesting fellow, and if there is any spinoff novel to be made in this world, I’d totally love it to be about Artan and his dysfunctional family (and maybe Irsa, because WHY NOT). Who knows, there may even be djinn involved, OH MY GOD HOW AWESOME WOULD THAT BE?!

Character arcs are actually concluded. Even the secondary characters have conclusions, and I was actually quite glad with how Tariq’s story panned out. Not that that says much, considering there were storylines that made me cry at the end, and one particular scene that almost made me want to throw the book out the window. But I didn’t. I held out. Thank the spirits I held out.

IMG_20160604_110352

Also, the inside artwork for the book. It just makes me melt. I am SO glad I got this duology. I can’t even.

But yeah, let me stop gushing now.

5 out of 5 cookies!


rosedagger-irsa

Review: The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Can I just continuously whine about how much I hate cliffhanger endings? HATE THEM HATE THEM HATE THEM.

And yet and yet AND YET this book was SO GOOD.

I just cannot with the cliffhanger though! You can’t just end it that way, Ahdieh! WHY WOULD YOU.

I deal with cliffhangers with a resigned kind of hatred at this point…

Hem hem. Anyway. Gonna try to move on and review.


THE WRATH & THE DAWN

by Renee Ahdieh
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, May 2015
YA fantasy, fairy tale retelling
Series? Yes (#1 of The Wrath and the Dawn)
Format: Audiobook
Time: approximately 10 hours
Rated: cookieratingcookieratingcookieratingcookierating / 5 cookies

wrathdawnOne Life to One Dawn.

In a land ruled by a murderous boy-king, each dawn brings heartache to a new family. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, is a monster. Each night he takes a new bride only to have a silk cord wrapped around her throat come morning. When sixteen-year-old Shahrzad’s dearest friend falls victim to Khalid, Shahrzad vows vengeance and volunteers to be his next bride. Shahrzad is determined not only to stay alive, but to end the caliph’s reign of terror once and for all.

Night after night, Shahrzad beguiles Khalid, weaving stories that enchant, ensuring her survival, though she knows each dawn could be her last. But something she never expected begins to happen: Khalid is nothing like what she’d imagined him to be. This monster is a boy with a tormented heart. Incredibly, Shahrzad finds herself falling in love. How is this possible? It’s an unforgivable betrayal. Still, Shahrzad has come to understand all is not as it seems in this palace of marble and stone. She resolves to uncover whatever secrets lurk and, despite her love, be ready to take Khalid’s life as retribution for the many lives he’s stolen. Can their love survive this world of stories and secrets?

The Dawn

You know, this was the type of book I would have preferred reading over listening to. Don’t get me wrong, the narration was beautiful in and of itself, the descriptions vivid enough to be able to imagine. Don’t even get me started on the descriptions of the food. (GIVE ME ALL THE FOOD.)

And that’s the thing. The writing style was lyrical and lovely, and I would have loved to have read the words on top of having listened to them.

“You honestly expect me to breathe in a world without air?”

Seriously, though, I may have teared a few times with how pretty the writing was.

But let me rewind for a second to talk about how this book could have gone and done so much wrong with the romance. (But thankfully, it went right IMO.)

The Stockholm Syndrome was there, you guys. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure one can classify Shahrzad’s situation as a hostaging or kidnapping one. She’d volunteered to marry Khalid, had known she was going to die (though not before she took the monstrous boy-king down with her), and was perfectly capable of handling herself when push came to shove. Meanwhile, Khalid himself pretty much gave her the freedom to go at some point or other, he never really lay a hand to hurt her, never made an intimate enough move unless Shahrzad herself gave express permission. Pretty much, Shahrzad remained resolute about staying within the confines of wifedom. That’s not to say I often did feel a bit of the awkward SS creeping up from time to time, only because yeah. Khalid kind of sent 70ish brides to death for what it looked like as no good reason, and Shahrzad ends up getting the hots for him. Rather awkward, I should say. Still, it does get better later on, when a bit of the mystery was revealed to both Shazi and the reader.

All the same, between Shahrzad’s two romantic interests, my money’s on Khalid.

“I prefer the color blue to any other. The scent of lilacs in your hair is a source of constant torment. I despise figs. Lastly, I will never forget, all the days of my life, the memories of last night–for nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you.”

I just…HOW SMOOTH CAN YOU GET? REALLY?! REALLY, KHALID?!

Shahrzad is also a force in and of herself, and I’d love to see how she deals with her predicament in the next book. She still has a lot to learn, and after much revelation happening in the end of the book, there is a LOT to take in.

“We women are a sad lot, aren’t we?”

“What do you mean?”

“Strong enough to take on the world with our bare hands, yet we permit ridiculous boys to make fools of us.”

“I am not a fool.”

“No, you’re not. Not yet.”

Not to mention, the cast of secondary characters slay me. I was left interested by what Jahandar was up to, and how Tariq was going to squirrel his way into the palace (though honestly, I am not overly fond of the man myself). I absolutely adored Despina to bits, and I totally ship Despina and her, um, romantic interest, yes. Despina made me laugh, for sure, but Jalal probably takes the cake in the most humorous–and most aww-ish–for me. His unwavering loyalty to his cousin makes him endearing. Also, the Rajput! The Rajput was awesome, too.

The Wrath

I did feel that the whole curse revelation thing took too long to manifest. I mean, yeah, okay, most of this book was pretty much trying to establish how the characters feel and interact with each other. With Shahrzad being the central character, she had to wade waters in both worlds, juggling what she knew about herself, her family, and what she thought she knew about her husband, to contemplating how much she had wrong, and how much deeper her situation is compared to what she came in with. Sometimes her constant “TELL ME TELL ME TELL ME NOW” whines–which actually happens a lot in the book–get a bit annoying. Then I remember she’s only 16. And, while the people constantly refer to Khalid as “the boy king,” I still took for granted he’s only 18. Which means, I should have expected this angst in the first place.

There was Tariq’s constant anger. I’m surprised nobody found him out until too late. It almost seemed like he was glowering the entire book and hating the world for the situation he was put in.

How I imagine Tariq every single time Shazi and Khalid are mentioned in his presence.

Also, there was the case of the disappearing sister. Shahrzad’s sister had maybe one or two scenes in her POV and then she suddenly disappeared into oblivion. I don’t think I’d heard from her since those chapters, which I suppose could be explained in the next book, but still. I would have forgotten about her by now if not for the briefest mention of Shahrzad’s family later on in the book.

4 out of 5 cookies! Worth reading in text next time around, and I am definitely picking up the second–and hopefully final–book in a couple of days!


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