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Out of Oz: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years (Wicked Years, 4) Hardcover – Illustrated, November 1, 2011
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“Elphaba’s Heirs and Assigns” by Gregory Maguire
Depending on how you count the years, I am about at my 25th anniversary of the original inspiration for Wicked. I was on a walk on a country road in Massachusetts, thinking myopically and somewhat self-regardingly about various offenses that I felt had been perpetrated against me. I was wondering about how apparently trustworthy people could turn dangerous, or if they really had been dangerous all along, merely well-disguised, even from themselves? A standard issue college dorm question, I suppose, but the matter seemed urgent to me that year. I moved from the slightly sore subject of my personal life into the realm of imagination to keep the question alive without it hurting so much, and almost immediately I thought of the Wicked Witch of the West--admittedly, more Margaret Hamilton than L. Frank Baum--and I wondered: Was she always terrible?
The momentary crisis of that year, combined with attention to acts of evil and distress in our larger world a few years later, brought me into Oz and the world of Wicked. Still, even eight years later when Wicked was first published, I hadn't expected that the story would remain a presence in the world. I had an imagination big enough to see into every cranny of Oz, but not big enough to imagine that anyone else might get interested, and stay interested.
After the story of Elphaba hit the bookstores, the national bestseller lists, the book clubs, and then the Broadway stage, the increasing attention to the story prompted me to go back and follow up the clues I had liberally sprinkled in the first book. Son of a Witch posited that Elphaba and Fiyero had an illegitimate boy, and considered the troubles he would have first growing up with the Witch as a negligent mother and then, even worse, with his negligent mother gone from his life. A Lion Among Men followed up with the Cowardly Lion's tale. Why the Lion and not the Tin Woodman or the Scarecrow, readers ask me. For a number of reasons, but chief among them is that the Lion is an Animal, and Elphaba's concern for the flight of talking Animals makes his life story more urgent to the themes of the Wicked Years sequence.
So finally we come to Out of Oz, the fourth and I believe final book in the series. I feel both elated and elegiac to be bringing it to readers. I get to revisit characters I love--Glinda, under house arrest; the Cowardly Lion, on the run from the law; Liir, the Witch's boy; and a little girl growing up in the shadows who may be pivotal to the resolution of military and social struggle in Oz.
Oh, and yes--Dorothy too. Dorothy Gale. That Dorothy. She comes on for something more than a curtain call. Face it: you always knew Dorothy was too strong a force to stay buckled down on the Kansas prairie, didn't you? No earthly gravity can hold that girl in one place for long: she defies gravity, too, only without the broomstick.
Come for a visit and stay a while. (It's over five hundred pages!) Out of Oz is, I hope, out of this world.
“A captivating storyteller. . . . Maguire pays subtle homage to Tolkien and Rowling and even Frank Baum while having a grand old time in the fantastically complicated world he has crafted. . . . Action-filled. . . . [a] deliciously fun novel.” -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[A] sassy reimagining of Baum’s world. . . . Maguire’s canvas is incredibly rich. . . . This last installment is one to savor.” -- People magazine (4 stars)
“(A) satisfying finale to Maguire’s series.” -- Christian Science Monitor
“[OUT OF OZ] will delight Maguire’s legions of fans, but will surely seduce a whole new world of readers, who can start at the end and go backwards in time to WICKED to understand the breadth and amazing imaginative landscape of his remarkable work.” -- Bookreporter.com
“In four books, Maguire has expanded the mythology of Oz from L. Frank Baum’s books and created a land that’s just as rich as Middle-earth or Narnia, and balances the serious with the sublime. . . . Out of Oz is a satisfying finish to the Wicked Years saga.” -- USA Today
“Maguire has crafted a complex, detailed Oz...; populated it with a wide range of characters and histories; created complex, layered plots; and dropped in some magic to bring it all together. His Oz envelops a reader in a feast for the senses and for the mind.” -- Wichita Eagle
“[A] masterwork…. Concludes…one of the most audacious and successful fantasy series of the past few decades…. Hilarious, heart-wrenching and extremely poignant…. The greatest fantasy series make one want to read them again. That’s what I intend to do with this one.” -- Washington Post
“A worthy conclusion to an imaginative and emotionally searing cultural phenomenon. . . . nobody does fractured fairy tales better than Maguire.” -- Booklist
“Maguire creates a world we can bear, just around the corner. He does this . . . with delicious writing; a tapestry of sentences so carefully imagined they brush over your skin as you read.” -- Newsday
- Publisher : William Morrow; Illustrated edition (November 1, 2011)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 592 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0060548940
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060548940
- Item Weight : 2.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 1.7 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #503,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Some authors channel their creativity. Other authors contrive it. Maguire is the latter.
No one wants a lover who prides himself on his skill but deliberately leaves his partner unsatisfied at the climax just to teach them a lesson about life.
The series started to drag in Lion Among Men but really did pick up with Out of Oz. Then you get to To Call the Lost Forward... And it's like hey, if you weren't down trodden enough with your heart constantly aching for the electric jump of life to kick you back, like the jolt of an AED, here's a punch to flat line anything that had a chance. And seriously, already played the confused bisexual card. Like three times!! Get a new idea to work with. What the hell do you have against the Thropp family. You were supposed to make it all make sense for them. Poor Elphaba, poor Fiyero, poor Liir, poor Candle, poor Nanny, but mostly poor Rainary Ko Osaq'ami Thropp Tigelaar!! You literally killed what was an amazing series. If you have any hope to skew my opinion, there needs to be one more book. Yes, in life there are ups and downs. But there was no up for this entire family and they were constantly doing their best and putting others first. How can you write about an Unnamed God but write such heinous atrocities to a family. And everyone just leaves!!!! Their is no family in the end. At least Liir is trying to look after his daughter. But Maguire left every character broken and alone!!! How awful!!!
I gave it a two because the writing is great, the storyline will just make you want to die!!! :'(
But this is a darker and more dangerous Oz than you see in the L. Frank Baum books. If you have read the other books of the series, you know that there are dangerous political forces at work in Oz, and in this volume the long simmering war between Munchkinland and the Emerald City finally ocmes to a head.
Along the way we find Lady Glinda in her twilight years held under house arrest by the forces of the Emerald City, the remains of the company of the Clock of the Time Dragon disintigrating, the Clock itself sliding into the Kellswater Lake, Dorothy returning to Oz once again - a less enjoyable experience for her than her last visit. And we see Elphaba's (the fabled Wicked Witch of the West) granddaughter, Rain, growing up to influence the course of history in Oz.
In general, the forces of evil are finally exposed and get what's coming to them this time, but the charaters we think of as the 'good guys' don't exactly emerge unscathed, and in the meantime the war has inflicted terrible damage on Oz itself.
However, if you have read the other books in the series, you will definitely want to read this one to see how everything works itself out. And the characters, especially the minor ones, are a hoot as always.
Top reviews from other countries
However when the final installment came out I re-read all three to familiarise myself with the story and then went straight into Out of Oz. Surprisingly to myself I found A Lion in Winter much better on second read.
I read that someone here on this thread thought that you wouldn't be able to understand the book without reading the other three. I beg to differ: Out of Oz bows to the lowest common denominator by insisting on re-capping situations and characters from the other books. This was unnecessary and incredibly annoying. I want to be able to make my own remembering and associations, not talked to in a patronising manner by the author. It makes it very easy I would have thought to understand this as a stand alone book and if Maquire hadn't insisted on doing this so much the book would have been many pages shorter.
There is much that is compelling: Some beautiful and haunting writing as always, I disagree with the comments that there is too much description, I think it is essential in this series and the author is very skilled at creating this other land of Oz. I want to go back there again and again but apparently this will be the last time. Shame. Mr Boss is a great character and Glinda is always good value. However I agree with the comment already on here that Rain appears to chance character at school. The school chapters are bad filler. Not at all comparable to the Shiz University Scenes in Wicked, it is like something out of Little Women or a Dickens classic, seems out of place and rather childish and on the whole these books are not for children.
Dorothy is as always acutely annoying and distracting. Why is she in it? Seems totally superfluous to the plot. The trial ridiculous and could have been replaced with another sub-plot to achieve the same point - deflection. I am surprised that as Maquire re-wrote the Witches that he couldn't be bothered to completely re-write the character of Dorothy right from the start - In fact why not make the whole Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion thing better? Anyway that is probably relevant criticism of and review for the first book I digress.
The author does not tie up many loose ends, just brings in minor characters from the other books for no apparent reason. The loose ends that need to be brought together are mainly not resolved. However there is one real surprise near the end of the book which pleased me and gave me hope for a great ending. I had started to think would not happen and unfortunately it didn't, ultimately a real fizzle at the end. ????????? Dreadful. It was an opportunity to answer the question we all wanted answered: What happened to ???????????
Unless there is going to be another book - and we are told there is not - this is an exercise in teasing the reader for profit.
I have made my own ending in my head. It is far better and I am trying to ignore the actual one.