Archive for Wizard of Oz

Review of Oz Book 13: The Magic of Oz (1919)

Posted in books, Classic literature, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on February 13, 2013 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

The thirteenth book in Baum’s Oz series was called The Magic of Oz.  It was published in 1919, one month after L Frank Baum had died due to complications after having a stroke.

Tin Woodman of Oz

This story begins with a magician who discovers a simple magical word for transforming anything and anyone into anything and anyone he wishes. The word is complex and must be pronounced exactly, but once learned is very easy to execute. After Ozma declares that only Glinda and the Wizard are able to perform magic in Oz, the magician retires but writes down his discovery in a secret compartment in his magical laboratory. Years later the magician’s son happens upon the secret word, figures out how to use it and escapes his village to do wicked things across the land of Oz. The son, Kiki Aru, joins up with the original Nome King, Ruggedo, who was exiled in Book 3 – Tik-Tok of Oz, to exact revenge on the denizens of The Emerald City, most notably Ozma and Dorothy.  The plan involves tricking the animals of Oz to revolt against the Emerald  City by convincing them that the people of Oz are going to attack and enslave the animals first.

Meanwhile, everyone in Oz is preparing for Ozma’s birthday and Dorothy and like 8 other people travel out into the Oz country side to find Ozma the perfect birthday present.  Yeah, I’m not too thrilled with that part of the story.  Trot and Capt Bill spend most of their time trying to obtain this magical flower that is floating in this island in the middle of a river in the northernmost part of Oz.  Just not very compelling.

However, the scenes with Ruggedo and Kiki Aru convincing the animals to attack the Emerald City are pretty good.  However, while out looking for presents, the Wizard and Dorothy stumble upon the plan and do their best to stop it.  All while Capt Bill and Trot are magically stuck on the island with the magical flower.

Oh, and, spoiler alert, Dorothy and the Wizard train a monkey to jump out of Ozma’s cake and dance.  That is their gift to her.  On  her birthday.

This is an oddly disjointed book.  I liked about half of it.  The rest is sort of silly, but in a bad way.  Normally Baum is able to make the silly parts endearing, but this time, not so much.  I’m not really going to recommend this book, even though we see the return of the original Nome King, one of my favorite Oz characters.  It just seems a little pointless and dull.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of imagination and cool stuff to see, but by the end of the book I was a little disappointed.

Only one more L Frank Baum Oz book would be published after this.

Below is my checklist of Oz books.  I’ve crossed off the ones I’ve currently read.  Next up is the fourteenth and final L Frank Baum Oz book, Glinda of Oz. Oz books checklist

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Review of Oz Book 12: The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918)

Posted in books, Classic literature, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on January 21, 2013 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

The twelfth book in Baum’s Oz series was The Tin Woodman of Oz and it was published in 1918.

Tin Woodman of Oz

This was a surprisingly good book that actually has a very relevant title as opposed to a few other books in this series (I’m looking at you, Tik-Tok of Oz).  And the book’s plot fills in a lot of back story to the original Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Ol’ Nick Chopper and The Wizard (he actually has no name and is only ever called The Wizard or Little Wizard) are telling tales in Chopper’s palace in the Winkie country.  A wandering Gillikin boy named Woot arrives at the palace and begins asking how Tin Man became tin.  Nick tells his origin in more detail about the witch Mombi cursing his axe and having his limbs cut off one by one.  After each limb is cut off, he goes to a tinsmith friend of his named Ku-Klip to replace the limb until he was entirely made out of tin.  After his accidents, Nick felt it wasn’t fair to marry his sweetheart, Nimmie Amee, since he didn’t truly love her any more due to not having a heart.  So he leaves.  This reminiscing causes Chopper to wonder what Amee is doing and to realize that he really should have married her like he promised.

So Nick Chopper, the Scarecrow, the Wizard and Woot travel to Munchkinland to see if Amee will still marry the tin woodman.  They meet lots of adventures on the way and even come upon another tin man in the munchkin forest.  This new tin man was a soldier named Capt Fyter who also fell in love with Nimmie Amee and had his sword cursed by Mombi in the exact same way as Nick Chopper.  Which of course led him to Ku-Klip.  He was caught in the forest many years ago and rusted in a rain storm.  Obviously shocked by the similar circumstances of their creation this leads the group to seek out Ku-Klip the tinsmith to discover the whereabouts of Nimmie Amee.  They also discover that Ku-Klip used the cut off human body parts of Nick Chopper and the Tin Soldier to create another person, Chopfyt (combination of the two names Chopper and Fyter).

From there they travel across Oz to where Nimmie currently resides to see if she wants to marry one of the tin men.

Aside from the copious amounts of back story we get on Nick Chopper, we also get a lot of back story about the Land of Oz itself.  We learn that Oz wasn’t always a magical fairyland in which no one ages or dies.  We learn that a fairy queen named Lurline bestowed upon Oz the fairy status and left one of her fairies to be its guardian.  That fairy is Ozma.  This sort of flies in the face of the second book, Marvelous Land of Oz, in which it was said that Ozma was just a long lost royal who was rightly returned to her family’s throne.  Regardless,  I really like this new back story.  It was interesting from the beginning and Baum had a few nice surprises in store.  I also really liked meeting Ku-Klip, the tinsmith who created the Tin Woodman.

From what I’ve read, the Oz books had begun to decline in popularity right before this book, but it became a huge hit and started a resurgence in Oz popularity.  It even carried over into some of Baum’s other non-Oz books like John Dough and the Cherub.

Below is my checklist of Oz books.  I’ve crossed off the ones I’ve currently read.  Next up, The Magic of Oz. Oz books checklist

Review of Oz Book 11: The Lost Princess of Oz (1917)

Posted in books, Classic literature, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , on January 3, 2013 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

The Lost Princess of Oz was the 11th Oz story written by L Frank Baum.  It was published in 1917.

Lost Princess of Oz

This book starts off with a very interesting premise and dilemma. Dorothy and the other girls (Dot and Betsy) decide to tour the Oz country side and go to Ozma to ask permission. However, Ozma appears to be missing along with her magic picture frame. The Wizard discovers that his personal bag of magic instruments is also missing. Dorothy, the Wizard and several others (Dot, Betsy, Button-Bright, Cowardly Lion, etc) travel to Glinda the Good Witch’s palace to see if she can help. Unfortunately, Glinda has already discovered that her magical Book of Records and all of her potions have been stolen.  Someone, obviously a very powerful, magical someone, has somehow managed to infiltrate both the Emerald City and Glinda’s magical palace and stolen all of the magical items found in Oz.  So Dorothy and her friends set off to find out who would have kidnapped Ozma and stolen all these items from Oz.

At the same time, a walking, talking frog called The Frogman, who is the adviser to a group of people called the Yips, discovers that one of his people has lost a gold, jewel-encrusted magical dishpan.  And she’s frantic to recover it.  So they set off for Oz to see if they can find it.  The story switches between both groups of travelers and their steady journey towards solving the mystery of the mysterious and powerful wizard that is making a bid to become the new ruler of Oz.

It must be clear by now that I don’t read the synopses of these books before I start reading them.  I want to go in fresh.  Usually it doesn’t throw me, but it did with Book 10 – Rinkitink in Oz.  It threw me for this book as well.  Since I knew nothing at all when I started, I wasn’t super thrilled to be reading this book based on the title alone.  But the first few chapters had me hooked.  The intertwining plot threads in the beginning reminded me of The Emerald City of Oz.  The plot threads come together about 2/3 of the way through the story and the end plays out nicely.  Yes, magic is involved to “fix” everything but it was earned in that a powerful magician was the antagonist causing all the trouble this time.  It wasn’t as cheap as the ending of The Emerald City of Oz in which the invading Nome hordes were thrown into the “fountain of forgetfulness” caused them to forget they wanted to attack Oz.  That was unsatisfying.  But this book, in it’s own childlike way, delivers on the promise of Dorothy and friends fighting an evil magician for the sake of Oz.

So, yes, I would recommend this one.  No one from the previous book, Rinkitink in Oz, shows up.  I’m still wondering if any of those characters will ever be mentioned again.  Which is odd because Baum just keeps adding characters to these stories.  There are so many characters that inhabit these books that I’d like to see one of them use existing characters without adding new ones.  And since there are so many, you have like 10 people being involved in the main plot.  It’s getting a little ridiculous.  And, FYI, this becomes a problem with the final book that Baum wrote.  But that’s still 3 books away.

Regardless of all that, this is still a fun book that I enjoyed and I would recommend as one of the better installments of the series so far.

Below is my checklist of Oz books.  I’ve crossed off the ones I’ve currently read.  Next up, The Tin Woodman of Oz. Oz books checklist

Review of Oz Book 10: Rinkitink in Oz (1916)

Posted in books, Classic literature, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on December 26, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

The tenth book of Oz was released in 1916. It was called Rinkitink in Oz.

Rinkitink in Oz

This book is an interesting entry in the series which makes for interesting reading. The bulk of this book was written 11 years prior to publication in 1905.  It was intended as a separate fantasy story not a part of the main Oz books.  This is clearly evident as you begin reading the book.  I wasn’t aware of this fact, so when I started reading I kept checking to make sure I was reading the correct book.  I had downloaded the eBook from Project Gutenberg and thought that maybe I had downloaded a book other than the one I intended.  Nope, it was clearly Rinkitink in Oz.

The story begins on the island of Pingaree.  Many years prior to this story, the King of Pingaree repelled an invasion with the help of three magical pearls given to him by the Mermaids.  Presently, the King passed down the secret of the pearls to his son, Inga.  Just after, the island is again invaded by the two neighboring islands that had attacked before and this time they catch the King off guard and he can’t get to the pearls in time to save his people.  The island is sacked and the people all become slaves.  The only ones not taken into slavery are the prince, Inga, the visiting King Rinkitink of Gilgad and his surly goat, Bilbil.  Inga retrieves the pearls from the wreckage of the castle, hides two of them in the toes of his shoes and places the third around his neck on a necklace.  The motley group lead by Inga then heads off to the invading islands to free his parents and his people.

What follows is a very entertaining story involving Inga and Rinkitink using the pearls to outwit and defeat the notorious armies of Regos and Coregos.  After the first page or so mentioning where these lands are in relation to Oz, there is literally no mention of Oz again until the very end of the book.  Inga discovers his parents have been put under the care of the newest Nome King, Kaliko, so he travels to the Nome King’s lands in Oz to retrieve them.  After this a few other familiar faces show up and, even though I really liked the story, I thought it wrapped up a little too “neatly”.  It’s like Baum had no ending and just shoe horned in some of his Oz characters as a deus ex machina.

Overall, though, like I said this was a very entertaining story that went to several very fun places and incorporated some cool magic and fantasy elements.  I’ll be interested to see if King Rinkitink, Inga or any of the Pingaree royal family show up again in the Baum Oz books, of which I now only have 4 left to read.  Odds are, though, I’m guessing they won’t.

Below is my checklist of Oz books.  I’ve crossed off the ones I’ve currently read.  Next up, The Lost Princess of Oz. Oz books checklist

Review of Oz Book 9: The Scarecrow of Oz (1915)

Posted in books, Classic literature, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on November 21, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

In 1915, one year after Tik-Tok of Oz Baum released the ninth Oz book, The Scarecrow of Oz.

Scarecrow of Oz

This book features two new characters to Oz, Cap’n Bill and Trot. Both of these characters previously appeared in the Baum non-Oz works The Sea Fairies (1911) and Sky Island (1912).  Bill and Trot set sail from California for a short ride in their row boat.  A storm suddenly appears and the duo find themselves in a fairy land (but not Oz, just yet).  Bill and Trot find their way to the land of Mo, which previously appeared in the non-Oz book; The Magical Monarch of Mo.  As you can see, Baum started to fold his previous non-Oz characters and lands into his Oz books when it was clear no one wanted to read anything but the Oz books.  It makes these later books interesting in that almost every character and land had appeared in a previous non-Oz book.

Anyway, Bill and Trot run into Button-Bright in the land of Mo.  Button previously appeared in not only the Oz books but in Bill and Trot’s last book, Sky Island.  So the group makes their way to Jinxland.  Jinxland is sort of a “sister” land to Oz.  It’s found on the same continent but divided by a nearly impassable mountain range.  Anyway, our heroes get tangled up in the drama of the King of Jinxland, his daughter, the gardener she loves and a royal suitor she doesn’t.  The scarecrow shows up to help and all is set right with the world.

I honestly am not sure why this book is named after the Scarecrow.  He only shows up at the very end, but he does help save the day.  Truthfully, I was a little disappointed in the story.   The characters were good.  I liked Bill and Trot, I even enjoyed Button-Bright more than I did in previous books.  I just was a bit let down by the entire story.  I’m hoping I’m not getting “Oz fatigue”.  Since Bill and Trot appear here and in the two previous books, I may wind up reading, at the very least, Sky Island.  Sky Island also features Button-Bright, like I said, and Polychrome, the Rainbow’s Daughter.  However, I may also read The Sea Fairies as I’ve read that Baum considers that his best work.

As you can see, it’s getting harder to define what I’m going to read because as of this point, Baum is incorporating so many of his non-Oz characters into the Oz books, that it’s hard not to just say f**k it and read them all.  Or f**k it and stop reading.  I’m going to continue reading these main Oz books as I only have a few left and I want to finish them by the end of the year.  Next year, I may catch up and read some of the other non-Oz books like The Sea Fairies, Sky Island, The Magical Monarch of Mo, The Master Key, etc.  But right now, I’m focusing on the core five Oz books I have left.

My final verdict on this Oz book is that, compared to the books before it, this one is disappointing overall.  It’s still a good book, but in relation to the other Oz books, it’s only okay.  I’m hoping this is a temporary dip in quality and that the next book is better.

Below is my checklist of Oz books.  I’ve crossed off the ones I’ve currently read.  Next up in the Oz series is Rinkitink in Oz.
Oz books checklist

Review of Oz Book 8: Tik-Tok of Oz (1914)

Posted in books, pop culture, reviews, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

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.

Tik Tok in 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.

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Review of Oz Book 7: The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913)

Posted in books, movies, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , , on September 3, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

As of this book, I’m halfway through the official original run of Baum Oz books. I’m not including “extra” stories Baum wrote like The Woggle Bug Book or Little Wizard Stories of Oz.  I’m talking about the main “canon” Oz books.  There were 14 of them and today’s book is number 7, The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

Patchwork Girl of Oz Patchwork Girl of Oz - Junior Edition

This seventh book begins with two munchkins, Ojo and his Uncle Nunkie living in seclusion in the forests of Munchkinland. They are about to starve so they leave in search of help. They go to Nunkie’s old friend the Crooked Magician. While there, the two witness a demonstration of “The Powder of Life” which was previously used in The Marvelous Land of Oz to animate Jack Pumpkinhead, the Sawhorse and The Gump. However, Nunkie and the Crooked Magician’s wife are accidentally turned into marble statues when the Magician tries to use the Powder to animate a patchwork rag doll for his wife to use as a housekeeper. So Ojo volunteers to search the Land of Oz to find the five rare ingredients the Crooked Magician needs to reverse the marble spell on their loved ones. The five ingredients Ojo needs are 1) Six leafed clover found only around the Emerald City 2) Three hairs from the tail of The Woozy 3) Water from a Dark Well 4) Drop of oil from a live man’s body 5) Left wing of a yellow butterfly found only in Winkie Country. Along the way, Ojo meets many crazy characters and eventually makes it to the Emerald City and meets Ozma, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Nick Chopper (Tin Woodsman) and the whole gang who help Ojo to find the items and free his Uncle.

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