Nathan (vovat) wrote,

  • Music:

If you like Oz, here are some books you might enjoy

But don't take MY word for it. DA DUN DUN!

The main character in Beenie in Oz is a thinly disguised version of March Laumer's niece. The story itself has some elements of parody, and even incorporates Tyler Jones's "A Generic Oz Story," which had also appeared in Oziana. It's a pretty good story in its own right, though, and uses some characters who either don't appear or don't do much in Laumer's other books, including Captain Salt and the Doubtful Dromedary. I'm not sure what's up with the Wizard's diatribe against salt toward the end, though.

I actually liked Trouble Under Oz better than Sherwood Smith's first Oz book. It felt more like a regular Oz book, which is kind of odd, since the majority of it takes place outside Oz. We learn a lot about the workings of the Nome Kingdom, and find out about some of their dangerous neighbors. The Long-Eared Hearer and the Lookout have some good parts in the story. Prince Inga also reappears, and his princely seriousness is a good foil to Rikiki's more childish attitudes. I thought Inga's belief that wiggling his toes made for a funny dive was a nice touch. I also thought it was interesting how Em had to cover for her missing sister. There's also a brief visit to the Vegetable Kingdom, which isn't presented in a way that's consistent with Melody Grandy's take on the Mangaboos (not that I expected it to be, but it's kind of annoying from a continuity point of view). Joe Bongiorno, maintainer of the Royal Timeline of Oz, thinks that the best way to reconcile the two is by setting Trouble back in the seventies. Dori and Em's world is one where cell phones are common, though, which I think points to a later date. I get the impression that Smith intended for it to occur in a time very close to the present.

I might actually be writing a review of this for The Baum Bugle, but I might as well include a few thoughts here as well. It's a sequel to Jeremy Steadman's earlier The Emerald Ring of Oz. I haven't read Jeremy's earlier book in a while, but I think his writing style improved for Time. I liked the book overall, although I thought it was somewhat weakened by an overabundance of villains, none of whom were all that developed. Kiex, Kazod, Peliara, the Shape-Changers, and the unseen head honcho Poysidado all had their own evil plots, some of which were fairly complicated, but most of which were pretty easily thwarted when it came down to the wire. There was also a lot of jumping around in time and space. A certain amount of that is to be expected in a time travel story, but some interesting ideas, like the alternate timeline where Dorothy grows up with Arthur in Kansas, were thrown away without much actual development.

I have to say that I'm somewhat down on authors writing themselves into Oz books (or ANY books, really), except in outright parodies. Sure, I've frequently imagined myself having adventures in Oz, but I've never actually written an Oz story starring myself. It seems rather self-indulgent, and spoils the believability. The same goes for people writing their family or friends into such stories. In both The Flying Bus in Oz and its sequel, Dr. Angelina Bean in Oz, Ruth Morris uses her own children as protagonists. Angelina also has dolls who talk and act on their own even when in the Great Outside World, which strikes me as more akin to, say, The Velveteen Rabbit or Toy Story than the Oz books, in which inanimate objects usually remain inanimate unless acted upon by magic. If I remember correctly, there was some explanation as to why Shrinkin' Violet in Bus could walk and talk on her own, but there isn't any for Angie and Mellie in Angelina. That said, both of Morris' books are actually really good, which I suppose proves that every rule has its exceptions. My favorite part about Angelina is how it provides a way for Ruggedo, the most frequently recurring villain in the Oz series, to finally make peace with Ozma and Oz. I've seen other books that attempted to reform the former Nome King (not least of which being L. Frank Baum's own Tik-Tok of Oz and The Magic of Oz), but Angelina is probably my favorite wrap-up for the saga of Ruggedo.

I still haven't ordered Toto of Oz, but I probably will soon. I tried to before, but while the Oz Club's order form says I'm entitled to a discount for being a Club member, there's no way to get this discount through the PayPal shopping cart. I might just send the money without using the shopping cart feature, but it does seem like a bug that the Club should fix.
Tags: books, oz

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