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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The Oz Chronicles Vol. 2 by L. Frank Baum 
19th-May-2006 01:40 pm
*sigh of accomplishment* And, yes, after another short age has past, I've finally managed to finish the rest of 'em. (The review for The Oz Chronicles Vol. 1 can be found here.)

Baum, L. Frank. The Oz Chronicles. Vol. 2. Ann Arbor: Borders Classics, 2003.
-Tik-Tok of Oz- (1914)
Summary: Queen Ann of Oogaboo sets out to conquer the world, the Shaggy Man's brother has been kidnapped by the Nome King, and Betsy and her mule Hank are shipwrecked in Fairyland. The three groups meet, along with Tik-Tok, who has been sent by Ozma to assist, and journey to the Nome's Kingdom...and, in the process, falling through the Earth to the other end of the world and permanently unseating the Nome King from his throne. Betsy is allowed to stay in Oz.
Comments: A fun installment with plenty to recommend to it and stands alone well as Baum's Oz (as opposed to Hollywood's vision of Oz). It also catches up on the Nomes, and what happened after The Emerald City of Oz. Suffice to say that they have not reformed in the least, which suggests that evil--petty badness at least--is inborn...? I can't help but notice that most of the ruling figures in Oz are female, whether good or bad at their jobs, and that maintains a fascinating message about the purpose of government in the author's mind, even as times goes on and the female characters become more stereotypically feminine and submissive in general. Also, Toto talks at last! Do you really think that, if I dog could talk, he would regardless have nothing to say? Thought not. :P
-The Scarecrow of Oz- (1915)
Summary: Trot and Cap'n Bill get sucked up into a whirlpool and transported to Fairyland. They then meet an Ork underground and travel to a number of islands, including one belonging to a pessimist and another where weather patterns are sweets. They also meet up with Button-Bright and then fix things in Jinxland before accompanying the Scarecrow to Oz, where they are allowed to stay.
Comments: This story has no purpose whatsoever than to satisfy Baum's fannish contemporaries by bringing characters that have appeared in his non-Oz novels into Oz. (As I have not yet read those other novels, I do not know in which books Trot, Cap'n Bill, and Button-Bright figure...though Button-Bright also appears in The Road to Oz.) Otherwise, this is yet another "wander aimlessly though fantastical lands trying to find our way home" story where "home" in this case, as it has been for awhile now, is interestingly not the United States but Oz, and in that, it is unessential. Though I did like the Ork with its propeller tail and the Country of Mo, where it snows buttered popcorn. Mmmm...
-Rinkitink in Oz- (1916)
Summary: The island kingdom of Pingaree is invaded and conquered, and Price Inga is left behind to try to rescue his people and his parents from slavery. His people he is able to rescue with the help of three magical pearls and the King Rinkitink and his goat Bilbil, but to rescue his parents after being entrusted with the Nome King, he needs the help of Princess Dorothy of Oz. All is set to rights in the end, with everyone returning where they belong. Even the goat is restored to his true form of Prince BoBo by Glinda.
Comments: Actually, this Oz novel was quite a departure from the usual formula, for, though it is an adventure, the protagonist sets off for a purpose other than trying to return home. Likewise, the land of Oz and the previously established characters themselves figure hardly at all, so you don't get nearly as much repetition (for youngsters who are new to the franchise or sporting short attention spans) as you typically do in Baum's books. Oh, that the protagonist is male is rather unusual. King Rinkitink in his corpulent irresponsibility and good humor is a great character similar in whimsy to Scraps, but the curmudgeonly goat makes a MUCH better and more lovable foil than the Glass Cat ever did.
-The Lost Princess of Oz- (1917)
Summary: Ozma has disappeared, and with it, her and Glinda's magic! Cayke the Cookie Cook's diamond dishpan has also disappeared, and it turns out that Ugu the Shoemaker in his Wicker Castle, who aspires to be the most powerful magician in Oz, is the culprit for all of these dastardly doings. After Dorothy transforms Ugu into a dove, the heroes are able to recover all of their magic paraphernalia--and it turns out that Ozma was actually the golden peach pit in Button-Bright's pocket.
Comments: Again, a bit of a departure from the usual Oz novel formula that Baum has established in that it is a mystery story, though, of course, like many of the Oz stories, it begins with a "disaster" of some sort that the characters must put to rights. For the first time, Dorothy's dog Toto gets chatty, though exactly where his growl went to was a plot thread that was never fully-explained. The Frogman is another new fantastical character that appears for the first time, but I found him far less interesting than some of Baum's previous creations. Still, an enjoyable story all around.
-The Tin Woodman of Oz- (1918)
Summary: A visit from Woot the Wanderer to the Tin Man's castle convinces him that he should seek out his former sweetheart Nimmie Amee. So, he, the Scarecrow, and Woot head out, encountering a giantess who transforms and imprisons them, along with Polychrome, and eventually meeting up with another man made of of tin, the Tin Soldier. Turns out, though, that Nimmie Amee, who was wooed by both men, is living with their grumpy amalgamate, Chopfyt, constructed from their cast off body parts by the tinsmith who made their current bodies.
Comments: Another enjoyable which took the time to tackle love, marriage, and mutual responsibility. Though Baum seems to delight in portraying hen-pecked husbands (which I find distasteful), it's nice to see some at least semi-serious treatment of the difference between "kind" and "loving." More grotesque, however, are some new revelations about living and (not) dying in Oz. No one ever dies or grows older, which means that children never grow up--harkening either to Peter Pan or, more sinister, Interview with the Vampire in the ramifications of being trapped in the body of a child forever that Baum does NOT discuss. Even worse, body parts remain living even when separated, which means that the Tin Woodman gets the opportunity to converse with his former head! No matter how you stack it, such plot conceits are horror to me, not lighthearted fantasy. And then there's Chopfyt, Baum's very own Frankenstein's monster... *shudders*
-The Magic of Oz- (1919)
Summary: It's Ozma's birthday, so the cast of characters in Oz are busy preparing her birthday gifts. Trot and Cap'n Bill set out to procure a magical flower and become rooted to a cursed island, while Dorothy and the Wizard go to the Forest of Gugu in order to find monkey entertainers for Ozma's birthday cake. Meanwhile, the Munchkin boy Kiki has discovered his father's transformation magic and, encouraged by the former Nome King Ruggedo, is up to not good in the Forest, trying to convince the animals there to launch an attack. Fortunately, Dorothy and her friends are able to overcome to the wannabe Oz conquerors and make it in time to save Trot and Cap'n Bill. Ozma's birthday party is of course a success.
Comments: I hope it's not all downhill from here. Baum's juggling three separate narratives here that eventually come together, and he frankly does better with just one narrative thread at a time. Also, we've got the Glass Cat playing a prominent role, and it is not one of my favorite personages by any means. Also, the stories get downright boring when following the exploits of "bad" characters--let's face it, they're not all that evil, and their "badness" is downright banal. Maybe that's on purpose. Fortunately, this story is a bit shorter than others immediately previous, which is just as well as that means it is over quicker. The writing has acquired an air of easy polish, but the storyline just didn't interest me.
-Glinda of Oz- (1920)
Summary: Ozma and Dorothy travel together in order to stop war between the Flatheads and the Skeeters but are unsuccessful, becoming trapped in the Skeeter's submerged island. So, it's Glinda, the Wizard, and friends to the rescue, and with the help of the Three Adepts of Magic who once uplifted and instructed the two peoples, all is made right again, and the Skeeters and Flatheads swear fealty to Ozma.
Comments: Though this final Oz novel was published after Baum's death, it is an effective and final word on the ethics of mutual respect and cooperation in the author's fairyland utopia. This is a naturalistic, not mechanized, society, but it is one that honors the quirks and unique characteristics of a great variety of people, provided that they all get along and abide by a minimum of rules. As usual, everything is wondrous and contradictory, but I must admit that I find the goody-goody, ultra-perfect characters of Ozma and Glinda to be among the most boring--and a story in which they both figure so prominently is never going to interest and entertain me as much as some of the others.
Notes: hardcover, Borders Leatherbound Classics edition, 2nd printing
Rating: 5.5, 5, 6.5, 6, 6, 5.5, 5.5/10 - Given that Baum's prose does nothing but improve, if you liked the first seven stories, you'll definitely like the last seven as much or more. Moreover, these novels sport a moral/ethical code rather different from vintage children's stories that is worth at least cursory examination.
19th-May-2006 05:50 pm (UTC)
nice reviews! you ever read vol 1?
19th-May-2006 06:07 pm (UTC)
you ever read vol 1?

Duh. ^_~
19th-May-2006 06:12 pm (UTC)
Got a review link, m'lady?
19th-May-2006 06:14 pm (UTC)
*smirks* Need new glasses? Take another look at the first two sentences that begin the entry. ^_~
19th-May-2006 06:21 pm (UTC)
doh! ^_~
31st-May-2006 07:16 pm (UTC)
Reviews archived.
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