Gregory Maguire's new book about Oz

I saw a sign in Target today advertising Volume 3 of the Wicked series - A Lion Among Men.

Apparently it’s going to be just what it sounds like - all about the Cowardly Lion and what happened to him after Elphaba saved him at the university, or whatever.

I loved Wicked, I thought it was wonderfully done and brilliant. Son of a Witch did virtually nothing for me. Dry and tedious all the way through. Given the flop (in my opinion, of course) of Volume 2, I can’t really get my hopes up for this next one.

So how about you? Anyone going to read it?

I feel the same way you do about the first two volumes, so I probably won’t be picking up the third unless it gets an absolute monsoon of good reviews.

The problem is, the magic of the first book was in the actual characters of Elphaba and G(a)linda, and the relationship between them. This is what the musical has capitalized upon, and is the reason for its astronomical success. Thus, anything written within the same universe in which they existed but not containing them at all is just set up to be a major disappointment from the get-go.

I listened to Wicked on tape while exercising. I did not love it as you did. I found all the characters unappealing and in the end was glad when it was over.

So, to answer your question: No, I will not be reading this.

I definitely agree with this. I also think it’s interesting how the book and musical can be so wildly different yet, as you say, since they’re both based around the relationship of those two witches, they were both excellent in their own way. They’re essentially two different takes on the same subject. The musical focused more on their interactions with the people around them and the book explored their personalities and what made them tick. That’s what sold the book for me, really - the discussion on the nature of evil, I thought, was really well done and interesting.

I loved Wicked (the book…well, AND the musical, but I’m talking about the book here), but Maguire always has an underlying sense of disturbance that makes me not really want to reread. I read Son of a Witch and thought it was trite, predictable and generally not nearly as good as its predecessor, but STILL having that sense of disturbance. I doubt I’ll be reading the third one. The general quality of Wicked (coupled with the novelty of a view askance at the story we already know) overcame the…I wish I had a better description or word than “sense of disturbance”, but I don’t. It’s just this underlying kind of dread that hangs on after you’re done reading for a while. I think I almost had nightmares about Old Mother Yakle after I finished Wicked.

I read Wicked and found it a chore to finish. My only previous exposure to Oz was the Judy Garland movie. I get the impression I’d get more out of Maguire’s books if I read the Baum books first. Alas, I’m not enchanted enough by the land of Oz to go to that much effort.

If you’ve read any of the other Maguire books, I think he shoots for this in pretty much all of them. I can’t comment on Mirror, Mirror because I haven’t read it, but the one that came to mind even more than Wicked when I read your post was Lost. It really seems like that foreboding dread was what he was going for through the whole thing. Unfortunately, it failed so miserably that I couldn’t even finish the book. It was so disconnected and boring that it joined the ranks of the few books I’ve walked out on.

I’m not actually sure that’s true. The Baum books are cute, and significantly different enough from the movie that they’re probably worth reading if one is at all interested, but Maguire’s Oz is hugely different and in some cases contradictory to that Oz. It’s much more of a political satire than just an expansion on Baum’s ideas.