Review of Oz Book 2: The Marvelous Land of Oz by L Frank Baum (1904)
And so I continue my journey down the yellow brick road. A few weeks ago I finished the original Wizard of Oz book by L Frank Baum and posted my review here. Now it’s time to continue the series with Book 2: The Marvelous Land of Oz.
I mentioned previously that I’ve read the original Oz book several times. I have never read any of the other books in the series. EVER. So this was the first time I’d delved in to the original Baum Oz sequels in my life. Needless to say, I was a little nervous but also excited.
First, a little background on this book. It was published in 1904, four years after the original Oz book. Baum had not intended to write a sequel. There was a stage play adaptation of the first book in 1902 that became very popular. Baum actually dedicates the book to comedians David Montgomery and Fred Stone who portrayed the Tin Man and Scarecrow in that stage production. It should also be noted that this book’s story and structure was written with an eye towards adapting it as a stage play. You will notice these elements as you read the story. Baum also stated in the foreward that he decided to write the sequel due to the large volumes of mail he received from young fans asking for more adventures in Oz. Baum included the Tin Man and Scarecrow in the book because they were the most popular characters with fans.
Now, to the book itself. It’s actually not bad. Baum’s boundless imagination really shines through. The structure of this book is very similar to the first Oz book, but Baum populates the story with so many fun and interesting characters you can’t help but be charmed by it. Dorothy doesn’t appear, though she’s mentioned a few times. Neither does the Cowardly Lion appear. The story seems to take place a few years after Dorothy’s departure. It centers on an eclectic group led by new character Tip who is being raised by the witch Mombi. He flees the witch after she threatens to turn him into a garden statue and takes a walking talking pumpkin-headed man named Jack with him. Along the way they acquire a Saw Horse, the original Scarecrow, King of Emerald City and the original Tin Man, Emporer of the Winkies. They also acquire HM Wogglebug, TE and a magically re-animated creature called the Gump.
This group travels across Oz after an army of girls takes over the Emerald City. The group try to get to Glinda the Good Witch to get her help in expelling the army. There’s a lot of talk about the Wizard and Baum certainly does his fair share of ret-conning the character of the Wizard. Amongst the denizons of Oz the Wizard is no longer considered a non-magical “humbug” but a bumbling good natured fellow who happened to be a bad wizard (although an actual “wizard” nonetheless). It is also shown that the Wizard wasn’t as reclusive as he was during the first book. No one had really ever seen him before when Dorothy arrived at the Emerald City, but in this book Mombi mentions at one point that she was visited by the actual Wizard and that he taught her several magical tricks as payment for a big favor she performed (revealed later in the book). There is even a discussion of who ruled Oz before the wizard showed up, which I think is interesting Oz history. This means the Wizard showed up, battled the previous ruler of Oz, won and then usurped the throne. That’s most definitely a change in character for the previously bumbling character. And I like it. But this is just the beginning as we see an army of girls sack the Emerald City, the Scarecrow lose all of his stuffing (again!) and have it replaced with actual money and a magical chase through Oz featuring Glinda the Good and Mombi. We even see the Deadly Desert that has been mentioned in both books that surrounds the land of Oz. This “deadly” desert in later books will turn anyone who touches it into sand. Just not this time. Anyway, the group of heroes save the Emerald City and there is much rejoicing.
Oh, I forgot, this book mentions several times the Tin Woodsman’s proper name, Nick Cutter. I don’t remember that being mentioned in the first book, but it’s mentioned in this book several times. I thought that was weird. When it came up at first I was like, “Who the f**k is Nick Cutter?!”. It’s the Tin Woodsman. Interesting trivia for you.
So, in the first book, the beheadings count was up to 42, all but one being doled out by Mr Cutter. However, there are no beheadings in this book which causes the series average to plummet to 21. I’ll be keeping track of the beheadings as I read. We’ll see if anyone gets their heads chopped off in Book 3 (fingers crossed).
So if you are interested in more Oz goodness, definitely give this book a chance. It’s a fun read.