I started reading Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire. The other night after I mentioned it in my post, I just had to pick it up. I’m not THAT good… I haven’t finished it yet. It’s somewhat more demanding than one would imagine.
Before I say anything about the new book, can we please talk about this series for a minute? What Gregory Maguire has done is absolutely beautiful. It seems to me that instead of re-imagining Oz, he’s just expanded on Baum’s idea. Having read Baum’s Oz, I don’t believe that Maguire has violated that vision at all. Baum’s version portrays Oz as a sort of mirror to Dorothy’s daily life. With that in mind, why shouldn’t Maguire make all of Oz a mirror of our world? Maguire’s Oz is complex, political, and dramatic in ways that are difficult to sum up. It’s a beautiful exotic place, and yet, it feels so familiar and so real.
In Wicked, Maguire reinvented the Wicked Witch of the West as Elphaba Thropp, a misunderstood green girl in opposition to the Wizard of Oz and his laws against Animals (that’s Animals with a capital A, meaning talking Animals, as opposed to animals, which do not talk). In Baum’s Oz, through Dorothy’s eyes, the witch appears to be the enemy, but Maguire’s readers get Elphaba’s side of the story. We also get a lot of dirt on the Wizard of Oz, who displays some very shady behavior. Don’t worry though, true to Baum’s story, the witch is destroyed by Dorothy, but for Maguire, the story doesn’t end there.
In Son of a Witch, we spend more time with Liir, a character we met in Wicked but didn’t really get to know very well. There’s some debate over his origins, but the title suggests the truth of the situation. Following in his alleged mother’s footsteps, Liir rebels against the Emerald City with some acts of sabotage resulting in soldiers keeping a close watch on the cabin he’s been sharing with Candle. When Liir returns, he finds that Candle has fled the cabin, leaving a little bundle, their daughter, for him to find. This novel gives us a lot more insight into the darker side of Oz. We venture into South Stairs prison and learn about the Emerald City’s attempts to use dragons to their purposes. With the birth of Liir’s child, this novel ends with a perfect set up for further expansion.
So in A Lion Among Men, Brrr, a.k.a. The Cowardly Lion, tries to avoid being arrested by tracking down Liir and Elphaba’s book of magic, the Grimmerie. He does so by interviewing Yackle, a mysterious character that hovers around the edges of Elphaba’s life. Brrr gets a little more than he bargained for, however, because Yackle leads him to exactly what he needs, but then he must make a choice.
I think I’m going to avoid saying anything else, any more information might spoil it for some readers. There are so many details that I love and want to share, but in this world, so many of the details are important. It’s difficult to share them without disrupting the experience. However, I have to say that this series is amazing. I truly believe that Maguire has done something absolutely unique and interesting, without disrupting the original. Anyone with an interest in fantasy novels, in Oz, or who thinks these might be interesting should absolutely pick these up.
So far, Out of Oz fits right in with the other novels. It has plenty of mystery, suspense, intrigue, and fantasy. It’s also extremely complex, and so far has kept me on my toes. When I finish it, I’ll spend a little time crying because the series is over, and then I will get myself right over here to type up my thoughts.
Talk to you soon :)