Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire
Oz is over. And what a strange trip it has been. In the end, extremely rewarding and well worth the ride.
Gregory Maguire first visited Oz in 1995's “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West“. He explored and expanded on it in 2 subsequent sequels – 2005's “Son of A Witch” and 2008's “A Lion Among Men“. In his final book in The Wicked Years series, 2011's “Out of Oz", he has made the world his own.
This isn’t the first series based on Oz since L. Frank Baum’s famous initial book in 1900. He wrote 13 sequels and his publisher printed another 26 Oz books over the next 42 years.
Most people are familiar with the novel “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West” – or its popular Broadway musical version – “Wicked“.
"Wicked” is an alternate look at the story of, and behind, “The Wizard of Oz” (movie version) as told from the point of view of the “wicked” witch, in the books her name is Elphaba (L. Frank Baum = LFB = Elphaba). In the books she strikes an unlikely friendship with a blond haired, white skinned fellow classmate at her college of Shiz, Galinda (later “Glinda”) Upland.
The Wicked Years series looks at the social and political dealings of the land of Oz – touching on things like animal rights, prejudice and stereotyping, good and evil, the role of fate versus free will in our lives, religion as totem and charade, and what defines family and being a parent. Maguire has created, throughout the series, a large tapestry that he uses to tell a political and ethical narrative that is closely enough rooted in our “memory” of Oz (from the movie) but that has enough room to breathe, grow, and become it’s own world. The political machinations, religious subtext, personal and broader struggles all feel very real.
The 4 books, taken together, tell a whole, and compelling, story with a definitive beginning, middle, and end. The storytelling comes full circle, and virtually every character you meet early on comes back in some capacity. The first books adherence to the general plot details of the movie force Maguire to make some interesting choices and connections, which in the end turn out to be extremely well played with and create an overarching mythology for the series. That’s not to say it isn’t difficult along the way. I found the middle two books, at the time I read them, to be a little plodding, despite the action and movement. They felt a little like a string of set pieces strung together to advance a story I wasn’t sure of. Looking back now, they are the classic “middle volume” of a trilogy – the characters are introduced and the plot started in the first volume, the climax of everything happens in the third, but the middle feels (often) like a series of steps to connect the two. I do think, having concluded the series and understanding where things led, it would help to reread them.
As to “Out of Oz” itself, it is a wonderful book with both surprising, and logically unsurprising, twists and outcomes. You come to appreciate and love certain characters and choices they have made. Choices seem to be a big theme with Maguire. Our cast of characters have made and do make various choices throughout the series. Sometimes they make sense intuitively, and often they are the best choices available at the time – choices made under duress, choices made without complete information, choices made for the wrong reasons – in other words, human and real choices. The implications for many of those choices finally come back to have an impact. The best choice at the time can have unintended consequences and reverberations will ultimately come back. While Dorothy had a presence in the first book – her actions drove the storyline – we rarely saw her. Elphaba – the Wicked Witch – was our guide and lens. In this book it is somewhat reversed – Dorothy finds her way back to Oz and has a role to play in the action. It is Elphaba, whose presence has hung all over the previous 2 books, who continues to be the unseen hand and character. In the end, the series is about finishing the actions she started in “Wicked”.
Maguire has a wonderful writing style. When you are reading his work you feel like you are reading literature, not just books. But he also has his tongue firmly planted in his own cheek and writes characters with flaws. He can find the humor in a desperate or difficult situation. He often keeps the reader in the dark as much as his characters are and leaves mysteries unanswered so that you can create your own interpretation of what is insinuated. The end of the final chapters echo’s back to the first lines of the first book, bringing the entire series around. And Maguire has the skill to also tie together the book with the movie, which is the heart of Oz for most people. As he says near the conclusion of the book:
“We don’t get an endless number of orbits away from the place where meaning first arises, that treasure-house of first experiences. What we learn, instead, is that our adventures secure us in isolation. Experience revokes our license to return to simpler times. Sooner or later, there’s no place remotely like home.”
This Out of Oz book review was written by Brian Herstig
All reviews for: The Wicked Years
Out of Oz
The Wicked Years: Book 4
The marvellous land of Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, and the Cowardly Lion is on...
Have you read Out of Oz?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Out of Oz reader reviews
9/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen
When Colin and Susan are pursued by eerie creatures across Alderley Edge, they are saved by the Wizard. He takes them into the caves of Fundindelve, where he watches over t...
The Dark is Rising Sequence
On holiday in Cornwall, the three Drew children discover an ancient map in the attic of the house that they are staying in. They know immediately that it is special. It is ...
Three Hearts and Three Lions
The gathering forces of the Dark Powers threaten the world of man. The legions of Faery, aided by trolls, demons and the Wild Hunt itself, are poised to overthrow the Realm...
His name is West. Her name is Cally. They speak different languages and come from different countries thousands of miles apart, but they do not know that. What they do know...
The Abhorsen Chronicles
Who will guard the living when the dead arise? Sabriel is sent as a child across the Wall to the safety of a school in Ancelstierre. Away from magic; away from the Dead. Af...
The Chrestomanci Series
Diana Wynne Jones
Orphans Eric Chant (nicknamed Cat) and his sister Gwendolen, a gifted witch, are whisked away to live in a castle with Chrestromanci, a much-revered man of magic, wealth an...
It has lain lost and forgotten for fifteen hundred years in the ancient heartland of England – a scrap of glass and metal melded by fierce fire. It is the lost core o...
Charlie Keeper has been forced from her home by a bloodthirsty and terrifying stranger. But in escaping she discovers her house holds the gateway to the Realm of Bellania -...
The Tragedy Paper
Every year at an exclusive private boarding school in New York state, the graduating students uphold an old tradition – they must swear an oath of secrecy and leave b...
The Very Best of Charles de Lint
Charles de Lint
Charles de Lint, a fantasy author who has left the same mark on the genre of myth and legend much as the likes of Sir Thomas Malory, Christian Anderson, Grimm, who has foun...
The Testament of Tall Eagle
John R Fultz
A young warrior's vision-quest unveils an alien city full of magic and mystery. As a tribal rift threatens to destroy Tall Eagle's people, night-crawling devils sta...
Alif the Unseen
G Willow Wilson
He calls himself Alif - few people know his real name - a young man born in a Middle Eastern city that straddles the ancient and modern worlds. When Alif meets the aristocr...
After an inexplicable catastrophe on Earth, John Bridgeman is left to scrap out a solitary existence, surrounded by bodies and haunted by the girlfriend he cannot allow to ...
R.H. Ragona's Circus of Magic is the greatest circus of Ellada. Nestled among the glowing blue Penglass - remnants of a mysterious civilisation long gone - are wonders ...
A small group of commuters and tube workers witness a fiery apocalypse overtaking London. They make their escape through a service tunnel. Reaching a door they step through...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
A small group of commuters and tube workers witness a fiery apocalypse overtaking London. They make their escape through a service tunnel. Reaching a door they step through......
It is for the entities known as Sleepwalkers to cross the doors between dreams, and hunt the nightmares that haunt sleeping minds. Theirs is a world of impossible vistas, wher...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's just about surviving, so long as he only takes his beloved plane for short journeys, and saves his remaining fuel. But, just once, he picks up a message from another pilot, a...
Beren and Luthien
Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien wil...
Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall - named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn h...
While honeymooning in the Tower of Babel, Thomas Senlin loses his wife, Marya. The Tower of Babel is the greatest marvel of the Silk Age. Immense as a mountain, the ancient...
The Ninth Rain
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the real...
The Court of Broken Knives
Anna Smith Spark
They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we pi...
With Blood Upon the Sand
Ceda, now a Blade Maiden in service to the kings of Sharakhai, trains as one of their elite warriors, gleaning secrets even as they send her on covert missions to further t...