“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] sassy reimagining of Baum’s world. . . . Maguire’s canvas is incredibly rich. . . . This last installment is one to savor.” (People magazine (4 stars))
“[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)
“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 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)
“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 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) satisfying finale to Maguire’s series.” (Christian Science Monitor)
“A worthy conclusion to an imaginative and emotionally searing cultural phenomenon. . . . nobody does fractured fairy tales better than Maguire.” (Booklist)
“Engrossing, complex . . . continues to flip the world of Oz on its head while answering new and old questions about Oz and its denizens. Highly recommended.” (Library Journal (starred review))
“[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)
#9 New York Times Bestseller (New York Times)