In this captivating New York Times bestseller, beloved author Gregory Maguire returns to the land of Oz and introduces us to Liir, an adolescent boy last seen hiding in the shadows of the castle after Dorothy did in the Witch. Is he really Elphaba's son? He has her broom and her cape—but what of her powers? In an Oz that, since the Wizard's departure, is under new and dangerous management, can Liir keep his head down long enough to grow up?
Topics: Parody, Adventurous, Folk and Fairy Tales, Witches, Magic, Politics, Alternate Universe, Revisionist, 21st Century, and Tetralogy
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I am reminded of Euripides and authors down to Eugene O'Neil and on. Their talent was not inventing novel stories but retelling familiar ones in their unique voices. This series has the same sense of inevitability: these characters with these flaws make only one ending possible. Even if they learn and change their sins set events into relentless motion. Justice demands punishment which, when it finally arrives, will be hugely out of proportionate. From the day Laius consults the oracle we know Oedipus' blinding is inevitable. In the same way we know from the first sentence Elphaba cannot escape her bucket of water.
I found the book is less cleverly written than the first although wordplay and a rich vocabulary still pulled me through to keep reading. Specifically, the prose is flecked with Ozicisms — words peculiar to the speech of those living in the Land of Oz — although there are also archaic or rarely words of perfectly good English as well. When an unfamiliar noun or adjective pops up the meaning was clear enough from context but I was never sure which language it was pulled from. Would I find it in a dictionary? Or would I need to call a reference librarian in the Emerald City to get the definition and derivation. In some cases it played thin and became an annoyance instead of a delight. I hope not to give too much away here: how many times can one read about black striped tsebras running on the plain before feeling like calling them zebra might have been alright?
Still, I have two volumes ahead of me. Having gone this far with the Thropps am I going to go on hundreds of pages further? You bet.
Just so you know, there are plenty of horrible tortures and deaths. While mostly in hints and metaphor, there is both hetero- and homosexuality so this isn't bedtime reading to share with young children. Honestly, the frank and graphic descriptions of politics make this an unsuitable fairy tale for small children! None of it approaches the way the these same scenes would be treated in movies so don't be scared off thinking you're steering clear of something lurid or voyeuristic.
And a final note: One theme in the book explores the way past, present, and future integrate but remain distinct divisions in our thinking about time, events and existence. Another, which I hope to see continuing in the series, is a conversation on the relationship between words and music and of their control of realities which exist independent of the words and songs. I expect more to come as volume one explored which is the reality: the thing or the words naming and describing it? Here we add music to the mix and I am anxious to see whether there is another ingredient tossed in or what other questions Maguire wants us to consider. (The richness of this discussion may be the source of my real irritation with names like "tsebra".)more