Review of Oz Book 3: Ozma of Oz by L Frank Baum (1907)
It’s time to take a look at the next book in the original Baum Oz series; Ozma of Oz. Click the image above to see the previous entries in my Oz book read through.
Ozma of Oz was released in 1907. It is the third book in the series. It had been three years since the last Oz sequel, Marvelous Land of Oz. It also featured the triumphant return of Dorothy Gale.
This book was sort of a departure. Instead of taking place in Oz, it takes place in a neighboring fairy land called Ev. Dorothy is traveling with her uncle on a boat when a storm hits and carries Dorothy to the fairly land of Ev. There Dorothy meets more crazy weird characters that she winds up traveling with. Once Dorothy realizes she’s in a similar fairly land that happens to neighbor with Oz, she doesn’t yearn to travel home to Kansas, like in the first book, she longs to return to Oz.
Also returning in this book are the original three companions; Scarecrow, Tin Man (Nick Chopper) and Cowardly Lion, who makes his first appearance since Book 1. And, obviously since the book is named for her, Princess Ozma also returns. The new characters we meet are Billina, a talking hen, Tik-Tok the mechanical man and the Hungry Tiger, a companion of the Cowardly Lion that is always hungry (obviously). We also meet the royal family of Ev (who need rescuin’) and the Nome King. Tik-Tok and the Nome King would prove popular enough that they would feature in several books later in the series. One of them written by Baum himself.
So Dorothy becomes stranded in Ev. Dorothy is joined by the hen, Billina, and eventually Tik-Tok, the mechanical man. We also meet these characters called The Wheelers (who show up in the movie Return to Oz) and Dorothy is taken hostage and locked away by the current Princess of Ev. The current Princess is very vain and can change her head whenever she wants. She keeps like 30 heads in her closet. So, the Princess wants Dorothy’s head, is refused and locks up Dorothy and her friends. Hearing about this, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion come with Ozma and her army from Oz across the Deadly Desert to rescue her. Next we get this whole back story about the land of Ev. The original King was a douchebag (my words, not Baum’s). He sells his entire family to the Nome King, who is a very magical being, in exchange for long life. Then the idiot king goes and drowns himself in despair for what he’s done. Like beheadings in the first book, this book is filled with people who drown themselves or nearly get drowned. Dorothy is almost drowned in the beginning of the book. This king does it to himself and there are several other mentions of drowning throughout the book. This Baum guy has serious issues. He should get them looked at, STAT.
So, Dorothy and all the Oz companions; Nick Chopper, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Hungry Tiger, Ozma and the Royal Army of Oz venture to the kingdom of the Nomes to face off with the Nome King to save the royal family of Ev. It is discovered that the Nome King turned the family into ornaments and they are hidden throughout his palace. He invites each member of the entourage to enter the palace, take 12 guesses and find them. If they can’t find them in 12 guesses, the guesser becomes an ornament. So everyone goes and essentially everyone turns into an ornament except Dorothy and Billina. Billina discovers the Nome King’s secret to selecting the correct ornaments and everyone is freed. They also discover that the King’s powers are derived from a magical belt he wears. Dorothy steals the belt and the group leaves and they all return the royal family to Ev then everyone else returns to Oz for a celebration. Dorothy is officially made a Princess of Oz, Billina decides to stay in Oz and Ozma uses the magic belt to return Dorothy to her Uncle Henry. But not before working out a way for Dorothy to contact Ozma when she wants to return.
So a lot happens in this book. Lots of zany sh*t Baum is known for. One of the best characters in the book is the Nome King. Hopefully we see more of him soon. I know he gets his own book, but that wasn’t actually written by Baum, so I won’t actually cover it in this series. If some of this story sounds familiar, the majority of the plot was used for the movie Return to Oz starring Fairuza Balk. All of the Land of Ev stuff was removed and replaced with characters from the second book, Marvelous Land of Oz.
So, this book was another good tale by Baum. So, far I’m enjoying the series. However, Baum needs to start mixing it up a bit. Essentially, every book contains a main human character who meets a bunch of weird, non-human characters and travels across the current “fairy land” to meet the magical villain of the story. Baum’s imaginative characters and funny writing style keeps it fresh enough that it doesn’t bother me too much, but, at this point, there are 11 books left. That formula may get a little stale.