Review of Oz Book 8: Tik-Tok of Oz (1914)
Baum wrote the 8th Oz book, Tik-Tok of Oz, in 1914, one year after The Patchwork Girl of Oz.
This book is titled after Tik-Tok, the mechanical man. The character of Tik-Tok first appeared in the third book, Ozma of Oz, but has also appeared in each subsequent book. Tik-Tok may be more familiar to people based on his appearance in the 1984 movie, Return to Oz.
A year before this book, in 1913, Baum attempted to stage a play based on a story that was heavily adapted from the third Oz book, Ozma of Oz. He called it The Tik-Tok Man of Oz. It was this play that would serve as the basis of this eighth book in the Oz series. However, despite being named in the title, this book isn’t really about Tik-Tok, it’s more about the Shaggy Man and his quest to find his brother.
The story starts off with Queen Anne of Oogaboo forming an army to conquer the Emerald City. However, Glinda mixes up the roads between Oogaboo and the Emerald City forcing the army to March around Oz aimlessly. The group meets up with Betsy Bobbin and her mule Hank. Queen Anne wants to have them arrested but Shaggy Man comes along and convinces her not to. Shaggy Man explains that he’s out looking for his brother who has become a prisoner of the Nome King (last seen in The Emerald City of Oz). When Queen Anne learns of the Nome King’s riches, she instead decides to conquer him instead of Ozma and the Emerald City. The group then travels to the Nome King’s domain to get Shaggy Man’s brother back and they have several adventures along the way.
(Via Oz and Ends)
This was a pretty good book. Mostly a journey story (like all the others), but I appreciate the return of the Nome King. Old Roquat is a great villain and I hope he keeps returning to this series in future Baum books. I know there is a book named after him, but it’s written by Oz stalwart Ruth Plumly-Thompson and not Baum himself.
Baum actually stayed within previous continuity for some of this book. Roquat the Nome King at first is called by the name Ruggedo. I was baffled because his name was Roquat and thought Baum had forgotten and just taken license by changing the name. However, the book reminds readers at one point that Roquat had drunk from the Waters of Oblivion and lost most of his memory (end of Book 6). So, since he had forgotten his name he had to think up a new one. And that new name was Ruggedo. I thought that was a nice touch. Unfortunately Baum then strays from previous continuity in several other spots. For instance, we see the return of Polychrome, the Rainbow’s daughter, who previously met Shaggy Man in The Road to Oz. However she completely forgets that meeting and treats Shaggy as a stranger in this book. I guess it all evens out eventually.
Baum also clears up something that has been bothering me since the third book. Whenever animals come from Earth to Oz, they can talk. Billina the hen and Hank the mule were transported to Oz as normal animals and started to talk immediately after they arrived. However, Toto, as of this book, had never spoken. At the very end, this is addressed in a conversation with Ozma, Dorothy and Betsy. Dorothy ponders why Toto has never spoken and actually asks Toto to speak, just once, if he can. Toto then speaks one word and runs off. I thought it was a very clever little idea that Toto could speak the whole time and never chose to. I really liked that.
Anyway, while I didn’t like this book as much as the previous one, which is probably currently my favorite, it was still pretty good and I can give it a recommend. I look forward to the next book.
I’m still reading illustrated Nook Books for these. I’m no longer reading the Eltanin eBooks as they stop at Patchwork Girl. From here on out I’ll be reading illustrated eBooks from either PubIt! Publishing or from Project Gutenburg. This particular book was from Pubit!
Below is my checklist of Oz books. I’ve crossed off the ones I’ve currently read. Next up in the Oz series is The Scarecrow of Oz. However, Oz characters Polychrome and Button-Brite (introduced in The Road to Oz) appear in the non-Oz story Sky Island next. Sky Island also features Trot and Capt Bill who figure prominently in The Scarecrow of Oz. So I may read Sky Island next. The incestuous nature of Baum’s characters throughout his books can be confusing. And exhausting.