They say that too many cooks spoil the broth. I would say that, sometimes, it’s too many ingredients that spoil it.
Arabian Nights fell a little flat for me. I was excited when Willingham started including characters from the Arabian Nights world. But the storyline involving them wasn’t all that captivating. Also, one of the characters kept calling Sinbad, supposedly the head of this royal retinue, “sirrah.” I gathered that he meant it as a term of honor, but I couldn’t get over the fact that, in English, it has a negative connotation. If what they’re saying in Arabic is going to be translated into English, then shouldn’t that term be translated, too?
The one thing I will say is that Frau Totenkinder is pretty ossom. She’s the wicked witch of “Hansel and Gretl” fame. Her name is German for “dead children,” and she’s ossomly creepy, and Willingham uses her well.
There was a vaguely interesting secondary plotline involving a wooden soldier from the Adversary’s armies. Rodney, a wooden soldier, falls in love with June, a wooden “medic” — she repairs damaged wooden soldiers’ limbs. Together, they travel to find Geppetto and ask him to turn them into flesh so that they can marry and raise children. It’s a sweet, little love story, and a reminder that the soldiers in the enemy’s army are people, too, with cares and lives disturbingly similar to ours.
It’s a nice aside, but I still hope that the next volume gets back to top form again.