Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire is the last installment in his Oz series. All the events you’ve been reading about in the previous three books have their conclusion in this installment. This book is by far the largest installment in Maguire’s Oz series. This book will take you through over six-hundred pages of a war-torn Oz while dragging its inhabitants along.
Contrary to what I said in the book haul post in which I bought this book, the events in this book actually take place only a few months after the events in A Lion Among Men. All of the previous books have overlapped in some way, but this one has not. It does not overlap any of the previous books at all.
The first place we go in this book is to the house of Glinda. You know Glinda, Glinda the good witch. Glinda’s home is being taken over by soldiers. They plan to take the lake called Restwater from free Munchkinland. They commandeer Glinda’s house and leave her with only a few servants. By the end only one servant remains, and that is a little girl. One General Cherrystone, yes, you’ve heard his name before if you’ve read the series, takes an interest in this young girl and teaches her to read. This girl’s name is Rain. Glinda appears to be oblivious about how Rain came into her house, but she actually knows.
Rain stays with Glinda throughout her entire imprisonment. They find out Cherrystone’s forces have raised dragons and plan to use them for an attack. Suddenly, a familiar troupe of people show up. These familiar people are the traveling company of the time dragon. That includes Mr. Boss, Brrr the lion, Illinora and various servants of the Time Dragon. They put on a show for the soldiers, which General Cherrystone doesn’t like. They leave, but before they go, they leave Glinda with something familiar, the Grimmerie. The Grimmerie confuses Glinda for a while, but when it comes time for the dragons to attack innocent people and places, Glinda and Rain conjure up a frozen lake to keep them at bay.
Glinda then sends Rain on with the company of the Time Dragon. Rain travels with the Time Dragon company for over a year. At one point, it appears the Time Dragon has died. Rain learns that she can control some creatures. Mr. Boss marries a former maunt, who played a large part in one of the former installments of the series. In an escape effort, Rain is able to make the Time Dragon fly with everyone on board to safety. Not long after this they meet up with Liir and Candle who are alive and well.
Liir and Candle are Rain’s parents, but Rain doesn’t take very kindly to them. She has seemingly never had parents her entire life, it’s hard to imagine having them so suddenly. They live for a while out to themselves, even Brr and Illinora, who is actually Rain’s aunt. At one point a messenger brings word that people are after Liir. People know he can use the Grimmery.
Tensions in the Emerald City and the Emminence of Munchkinland heat up. Mombey has taken control of Munchkinland through some claimed relation to the Thropps. Shell Thropp, has crowned himself the Emperor Apostle of Oz and calls himself “The Sacredness.” Both parties want to win a war against the other. They both know they need or want the Grimmerie to do so.
The party in the wild goes their separate ways. It is rumored that Dorothy is back, so that is where Brr, Mr. Boss and his new wife go. They go to rescue Dorothy who is to be put on a mock trial and convicted guilty for killing both Elphaba and Nessaroe.
Nor takes Rain to the city of Shiz and enrolls her in boarding school. It’s as good a place to hide her as any. There in boarding school, is where Rain meets someone named Tip. Tip you will remember does make an appearance in the Oz series by Baum, and if you remember, what happens, you will know also what happens to Tip in this book.
It soon becomes apparent that Rain must be compelled into action to fight for her country and her family. Rain is the one everyone has been waiting for.
What I liked
I know that I do not give this book justice with my summary. The book is so large and so epic that I cannot possibly relay the entire story here in a summary. Just be satisfied in knowing that many questions you had in the other three books are answered in this book. It’s a closing chapter to the Oz series, but it doesn’t entirely close it.
I like that Gregory incorporated elements from other Oz books into this book. The Oz series by Baum is either fourteen or fifteen books, depending on whom you ask. Some people say the fifteenth book is not actually his and was written by an imposter. I can’t speak with any validity on my part, because I am not an Oz scholar or fanatic. The other three books in this series have generally configured themselves as something of a prolouge to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and followed events within that book. This book seems to include events from the second installment of the Oz series by Baum, in which we meet Mombey. Mombey who can change her face at will, just like the Mombey in Return to Oz, which was actually based on two of Baum’s Oz novels. I really liked that Gregory not only included increasingly more elements from Baum’s series, but also elements from the 1980s movie Return to Oz.
Moving on, Gregory actually also mentions elements from other books in the series, although he does not actually mention events in those books. One of the key things I noticed mentioned in this book that comes later in Baum’s series are the Wogglebugs.
There is a lot in this book that you could pick apart. Gregory was obviously expressing his love for L. Frank Baum’s world of Oz, but he was also expressing some social commentary. The war that happens in Oz and the power structures that vie with one another are very detailed and could be related to things we know in real life. Honestly, I would really have to study up on some history and current events to be able to speak about this aspect of the book in an educated manner. I would probably also have to read the book again, because, let’s face it, one time around in a book like this, you’re not going to pick up everything.
You do have to remember that Baum himself was a social commentator. All that jazz about silver slippers and so forth were arguments Baum wanted to make about the real world. He did so through a children’s story. Obviously, Baum and his fellows did not win their argument because U.S. currency is not backed by gold or even silver these days. U.S. currency is backed by nothing but your faith. If you have faith a piece of paper is money, then that piece of paper is money; if you do not have faith that a piece of green paper is money, then your currency is worthless and your economy collapses.
I think I would really like to get more into what Gregory was trying to say about our society.
What I didn’t like
I do feel like some elements of the story are unresolved. Elphaba’s final story can be interpreted in at least several ways. I wish I would have had a more concrete clue one way or the other as to what in the world happened to Elphaba.
Tip’s final situation never made sense to me in Baum’s series. If you know what happens to Tip, continue reading, but if you don’t know, I’m going to try to not give anything away. Knowing what I know about Gregory, I can see why he left this event in the story. Obviously, it’s something that is important to Gregory. I don’t like how Baum created this event and I don’t think he ever intended it to end up the way it has. I don’t like this whole event for reasons of confusion rather than anything else. I think that would be a very unfair thing to do to a person in real life, so I also think it’s an unfair thing to do to a character in a book. This is in my “what I didn’t like” section, because I don’t like the fact that Gregory had the power as the creator of this story to change the way Tip ends up, but he didn’t. He chose to have Tip continue to suffer endless bounds of confusion. We can’t all have happy endings though.
If you love Gregory’s other Oz books, you definitely have to read this one. If you love Baum’s wizard of Oz books, then you have to read this one. Be prepared though, because this book will take you a good bit of time to read.
brr, candle, dragon warfare, dragons, elphaba, Gregory Maguire, l. frank baum, liir, mombey, munchkinland, nessaroe, out of oz, out of oz by gregory maguire, rain, the cowardly lion, the grimmerie. oz series, the time dragon, tip, wizard of oz
Books Based on Books, Coming of age, Family dynamics, Fantasy, Fiction, Finding Your Self, Maguire-Gregory, Mystery, Social Commentary, what if