Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire

This third volume of the Wicked series left me feeling frustrated and flat. I love the works of Gregory Maguire and how he makes classic fairy tales and stories warped and complex. Unfortunately the Wicked series seems to keep going and going with no end in sight. In three books he hasn't even came close to completing the cycle of characters and plots. We are still searching for lost children and lost loves at the end of this installment. The stories of Elphaba, Lirr, and the Cowardly Lion Sir Brrr haven't even halfway completed. A lot of people don't like this series because they are very political books. Gregory Maguire tried to make the story of Oz and its inhabitants more realistic by making it political and in a way tawdry. While I normally like that kind of thing the politics get in the way more often than not. The whole series are worth reading just for the purpose of a different view of the Wicked Witch Elphaba, and for those musical buffs the book is COMPLETELY different than the fun loving musical Wicked. The books on a whole are very dark and compelling.
A Lion Among Men (The Wicked Years, Book 3)
By: Gregory Maguire
Amazon Price: $26.95

10 comments:

Amanda said...

I kind of feel that way about the Oz series. I've never read it personally, but when my son was reading it, there was just book after book after book after book...

Trixie said...

I just loved the Oz series as a kid. I read A LOT of the books, and really I have no idea if I read anywhere near all of them or not. I just remember there were so many.
As for Gregory Maguire, I have read about 1/2 of Wicked and agree that it is completely different from the musical, which I just loved. I didn't realize there is a whole series of Wicked books though. It might be interesting to read them alongside the original Oz books by L. Frank Baum and I think there were some others written by another author(?). I have read enough of Wicked to notice that Maguire takes after Baum in having so many characters that I get confused.

Amanda said...

Yes, Frank Baum wrote a lot of the Oz books, and after he died, someone else "took over" as it were. I think there's over 30 in the series. We kept checking them out of the library for Morrigan until he'd read all the Baum books.

Jason Gignac said...

I loved the Oz books when I was a kid, I had to keep myself from borrowing my sons copies when he was going through (otherwise, I'd of never finished my homework). I still occiaisionally play as Tip/Ozma in my dreams, or meet up with the Patchwork Girl of the pumpkin-headed man.

Ms Trixie, since you asked, yes, the series was originally created by L. Frank Baum, but since he died after 14, and stopped producing money for his publishers as a result, the series ws taken over by a woman, named Ruth Plumly Thomson. Her books were far more closed-system, classical fairy tale type stories, and lacked the mythopeic quality of the originals. Several more were written after she died (a few by the fellow who illustrated all the oz books, who was wonderful as an illustrator). I read the ones by Baum as a child, but couldn't really get into the later ones.

Wicked, I've seen around and always thought I'd like to read, but somehow never have gotten to it. I'm told the books are wonderful.

Trixie said...

Yes, I do see that Amazon has The Complete Wizard of Oz Collection (All 15 books) in hardcover. Who was the illustrator?
It's hard to sort out the order of the books on Amazon. It looks like they have some by L. Frank Baum and John R. Neill and then others by L. Frank Baum and W. W. Denslow. I'll have to check it out at the library. I know I've seen them there.
And Ms. Trixie cracks me up. :)

Jason Gignac said...

John Neill was the illustrator, so if it's by BOTH Baum and Neill, that's one of the originals. Mr. Baum, ever the capitalist, made several brave attempts at following up with successful musicals (three other attemps after the well known one, all flops - I don't think they even made it to theaters), as well as a weekly column/comic strip. My guess would be it's the comic strip you're seeing by another illustrator. If I remember, the comic strip is acutally public domain, now, and all available online, if one looks hard enough.

Trixie said...

Jason, that triggered my memory that I had seen a website with L. Frank Baum's books which are apparently in public domain as well now. It's here - http://www.literature.org/authors/baum-l-frank/
www.literature.org has a list of other authors (Alcott, the Brontes, Carroll for example) also available to the public.

Jason Gignac said...

A number are also available on Project Gutenberg and if you prefer to listen to them, or play them as bedtime stories for children, or something, they're also working through the Baum catalog on Librivox which has free audio books. The only sad part in either of these is the loss of the illustrations which were beautiful.

Trixie said...

The loss of illustrations and the loss of paper. I like my books on paper.

Amanda said...

ME TOO!!! I avoid audiobooks and ebooks when possible.