Review of Oz Book 4: Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)
So, after finishing Book 3, Ozma of Oz, I have officially read the first trilogy of books and I have finished the initial set of Books of Wonder paperbacks I got off Paperbackswap.com. From here on out I actually have to obtain the books either from the library, Chamblin Bookmine or through my Nook. There are also tons of free ebooks of the Oz books I can download from places like FreeEpubBooks.com or ManyBooks.net. However, those free ebooks are text only. You don’t get the illustrations which, for me, is half the story (Yes, I’m an Oz nerd). So, I went searching in the Nook Store and found an illustrated ebook copy of the fourth Oz book, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz for 99 cents. And I pulled the trigger. And I read it on my Nook. Let’s take a look at that book.
Published in 1908, it was by this time that Baum had resigned himself to writing the Oz books. Before now, he had hoped to write of other lands and tales but due to the popularity of Oz, he had to keep returning to that land.
This book reunites the humbug Wizard from the first book with Dorothy Gale, who returned in the last book. The book begins with Dorothy arriving in California from Australia, where she went at the end of book 3. She is back in America to visit Henry at a Ranch on the California coast. She strikes up a friendship with the ranch owner’s nephew and they travel together. While traveling, the group is swallowed up by an earthquake and they fall into a fairy land beneath the Earth. Like in the last book, the majority of this book does not actually take place in Oz (despite the name of the book). The majority of the adventures actually take place in a few unnamed fairy lands as our characters try to make their way to Oz after falling through the earthquake.
Dorothy and friends first encounter a “vegetable people” who try to put them to death, but the Wizard falls to the ground in a hot air balloon just in time. The Wizard challenges the reigning sorceror and actually takes a sword and slices him in half like a potato. The group flee from there and head into a valley where all the people are invisible. And the reason all the people are invisible is to protect them against all of the invisible bears that keep attacking and eating people (I swear I am not kidding about that). The group goes from the valley into the mountains where they meet a crazy old man who makes holes (Yes. HOLES. Again, not kidding). They travel from there to the land of the Gargoyles. The Gargoyles are small creatures made entirely out of wood. It’s actually a pretty cool idea when you read it in the book as Baum gets very intricate about how literally these creatures are made.
Dorothy and the group wind up trapped in a cave of hungry baby dragons awaiting the return of the mother. Without any means of escape Dorothy makes a signal to Ozma who always watches Dorothy at a certain time of the day and Ozma uses the Nome King’s magic belt to whisk Dorothy and her companions back to Oz. In Oz there is a big celebration for Dorothy’s return. We see the return of the Saw Horse, the Hungry Tiger and Dorothy’s original companions; Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion. After the festivities, Ozma uses the magic belt to return Dorothy to Kansas and the ranch owner’s nephew to California. The Wizard decides to stay in Oz as an advisor to Ozma.
Since these books were written for children, Baum wasn’t too concerned about sticking to the previous Oz continuity. For example, in this book when Dorothy mentions that Ozma checks on her every day at a certain time, it was actually only every Saturday Ozma was supposed to watch Dorothy (Per book 3). Plus, the Wizard doesn’t seem to know who Ozma is or the entire story of how she became ruler of Oz even though in book 2, the Wizard was revealed to have hidden Ozma with the witch Mombi to prevent her from becoming ruler. But, honestly, I expected this and I expect there to be more deviations in the books to come as there are 10 more official Oz books by Baum for me to read.
So, again, we have our second book in a row that mostly takes place in a different fairy land other than Oz despite the fact that Oz is actually NAMED in the title. We also have our SIXTH means of traveling from the real world to a fairly land (Oz or somewhere similar). Book one used a tornado, hot air balloon and magic shoes. Book three used a storm at sea and a magic belt. Book four used earthquakes. Six different ways of ferrying our heroes to and from fairy lands, and most of the time, it’s not to Oz, where they actually want to go. I’m interested to see how this trend continues.
Oh yes, and the violence, for the most part has steadily decreased. Book 1 had over 40 beheadings. Book 3 had a bunch of drownings. Now, we have some scary stuff, but nothing too bad. Like I said, the one main crazy scene in this book is when the Wizard takes a sword and actually chops a dude in half. Yeah, the dude turned out to be made of something similar to potato and could be replanted and reborn, but the Wizard didn’t know that when he attacked the guy like Jason Vorhees on a pack of slutty teens.
Needless to say, I’m enjoying this series.