sturgeonslawyer (sturgeonslawyer) wrote,

Read: Out of Oz, by Gregory Maguire (2014-16)

Twenty years or so ago, Gregory Maguire made something of a splash with his first adult novel, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a book of serious moral quandaries and ambiguities that told the life of Elphaba Thropp, the titular Witch, along with her sister Nessarose (the Wicked Witch of the East) and Glinda the Good Witch. The revisionistic view of Oz made for good talk and, with some amendments, a good musical.

Ten years later, he published Son of a Witch, the story of Elphaba's son Liir; then in 2008, A Lion Among Men, the story of Brrr, the Cowardly Lion.

Now comes the end of the "Wicked Years" series, Out of Oz.

There are several main characters, but the "mainest" is Liir's daughter Rain, who is constantly abandoned by one parent or parent-substitute after another. But we also have the return of Dorothy Gale, as well as sections from the points of view of Liir and Brrr and several other characters. The history of war and rebellion that began in Wicked comes to a logical and satisfying conclusion here.

But the story is not primarily about war and rebellion: it is about identity, difficult moral choices, and who your real family is. It ends - as it must - on a series of ambiguous notes, which are more satisfying than unambiguous notes could possibly be for a book like this.

It is, as all the Wicked Years books have been, well if somewhat densely written - it takes more time to read than the average book of its length. As well as many references to Baum's Oz canon, there are references, jokes, and jabs at a number of other works, especially works of fantasy - and even at the stage play of Wicked and the 1939 Oz film.

This is not a good stand-alone book. To appreciate it you really have to have read its predecessors. But it is well worth the effort.
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