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Out of Oz: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years Hardcover – November 1, 2011

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Out of Oz: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years + A Lion Among Men (The Wicked Years, Book 3) + Son of a Witch
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review


“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.

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] 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)
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Product Details

  • Series: Wicked Years (Book 4)
  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060548940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060548940
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (286 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Gregory Maguire received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children's Literature from 1979-1985. In 1987 he co-founded Children's Literature New England. He still serves as co-director of CLNE, although that organization has announced its intention to close after its 2006 institute.
The bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. Wicked, now a beloved classic, is the basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad.
He has three adopted children and is married to painter Andy Newman. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 74 people found the following review helpful By The Ginger Man VINE VOICE on November 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Out of Oz is a significant upgrade on the prior book in this series and the best work Maguire has done since Wicked. Even before the story begins, the reader is rewarded with summaries of the 3 prior Oz books, a timeline comparing events in this series with those from Baum's first book, three pages of family trees and maps of Oz, Emerald City and Shiz. Rather than focusing on less interesting secondary characters as he did in A Lion Among Men, Maguire's Prologue teases the reader with a reintroduction of Dorothy Gale. The 16 year old is visiting San Francisco with Auntie Em and Uncle Henry as part of an attempt by the latter to dissolve her illusions of Oz and prepare their niece for the responsibilities of adulthood. Her aunt advises, "You must put the corrupting influence of Oz behind you," while her uncle counsels, "the world is wonderful enough without you having to invent an alternative."

Dorothy compares the Palace Hotel unfavorably to the Empire Palace in Emerald City and carries Toto in a wicker basket for old times sake. While she has picked the wrong time to visit San Francisco, the author has chosen a great way to begin his final trip to Oz.

I don't want to give any of the plot away for the remainder of the book except to say that it moves more quickly than books 2 and 3, includes most of the lands of Oz and characters from the Series and, most importantly, reintroduces Dorothy Gale to the land she made famous. Character development is a strong suit in this volume as well. Glinda is noble, eccentric, caring and yet totally unengaged with the problems around her. In directing her staff to cook for the occupying troops from the Emerald City, she says, "You must cook it. You need not season it and you must not poison it.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By G. Shirer on November 24, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I just finished this book and I'm a bit conflicted over it.
On the one hand, I love the vision of Oz that Gregory Maguire painted, his use of langauge, his characters.
But then there's the ending of this book, which, ultimately, left me feeling unfulfilled and flummoxed. It was entirely too ambivalent for my tastes.
With all of that taken into consideration, however, I can't say that I dislike this book. It was okay, which is sad because I thought it could have been so much better.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Welling on November 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
First Impressions: I can't even begin to describe how much I have loved the entire Wicked Years series! I began with the first book, Wicked, before it ever became a hit on Broadway and beyond and absolutely loved it from the very beginning. I even fell in love with A Lion Among Men, even though I didn't think it was the best in the series. So imagine my excitement when I was able to review this final novel in the series. Needless to say, I was ecstatic! The publisher even sent me a signed ARC which was amazing to me. Can you tell I really adore this author and his work?

First 50 Pages & Style of Writing: I knew from the start that this book would stay true to the, what I call, "Maguire" style right from the get go. Gregory Maguire writes in a very lyrical manner that I personally love, but not everyone will. His prose is beautiful and almost poetic in the way he describes different situations and characters. This book had no slow parts, and right from the beginning, the action kicked up and the plot sped off. It was much faster paced then the last book, and I was extremely happy with how the beginning began. If you haven't read the other books in the series, I would highly suggest you read them before beginning this book or you will be completely lost.

Plot: I'm not going to give much away here because the book was just released and I hate giving away spoilers. I will say that in this book we finally get to know Rain who is Liir's daughter. She is a very odd child and her parentage is a complete mystery to her. Other key characters in the edition are Liir, Glinda, the Cowardly Lion, and...Dorothy! Finally, Dorothy has her own unique role in this particular book besides staging a cameo! I honestly think that her parts in this book were some of my favorite in the whole series.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Cover Me Mine on November 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have been a die hard fan of the Wizard of Oz my whole life and I love, love loved, the first book Wicked!
However, the 3 subsequent books, I feel have been a major departure from the original Wicked. I can't understand how the author could go from such an amazing and strong character as Elphaba to these weak and formless characters with such dismal, nay abysmal lives with out hope of happiness or redemption. Wicked finished with such hope, such power and was filled with ethereal "pizazz" , for lack of a better word. This finale was dark, heavy, and dire. The authors attempt at profundity failed immensely, and left this reader wondering - what on earth has happened in this man's life for him to write such a nihilistic story?
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By P. Sands on November 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I love Wicked--it's one of my favorite books. I was slightly disappointed in Son of a Witch, and very disappointed in A Lion Among Men and Out Of Oz. They had such potential, but in reading these books, it's as though GM had no desire to write them. It's like he had this brilliant idea for Wicked, and wrote it passionately and beautifully! It was thought-provoking, political, tragic, and philosophical. Then he felt compelled or something to write sequels. The characters had no substance, no desire, no passion, no drive; and there was no logical storyline. The characters in all the books wander aimlessly throughout the story only to be left without a satisfying conclusion. I felt that this final book (OOOz) not only was similar to the others in its aimless storyline (except for a few sections here and there, but there was way too much description of people wandering through different parts of Oz), but also there was little background given to new characters or new items introduced (the shell that appears on the cover, as an example). Aside from the big revelation toward the end, everything else was meaningless. There were lots of loose ends. This book ruined some of the mystery left by the other books, as well. That sucked.

I'm giving this book 2 stars only because I did like *some* of the writing, though it wasn't nearly as beautifully written as Wicked. Also, it was a little cheesy with the references to The Wizard of Oz movie. If you're a hardcore fan, I imagine your curiosity would get the best of you, but don't expect to be blown away. I didn't hate the book, but I was super bummed by the ending and just disappointed over-all. I could read Wicked several times and discover things I didn't notice before--this book, though, is pretty 2-dimensional. Anyway, I love Wicked and I knew not to expect any of the other books to be at par, but this really was a waste of time. You'd be happier and more satisfied just reading the first and second books in the series.
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