In general, I enjoyed this book. Yes, as many readers point out there are, indeed, a few "flaws", but those are mostly a matter of perspective and can be overcome. However, it helps if you simply put a few things in mind. While I do recommend it, I have a few suggestions for improving your reading experience:
1. Unless you are one of those types who loved WICKED enough to nearly memorize it in its entirety, I would highly suggest that you re-read WICKED before you begin this sequel. It will not only help to get yourself in the correct frame of mind but will help you to adjust to the ontology of Oz. I actually began S of a W, stopped, re-read WICKED and then resumed. It helped a great deal - believe me.
2. Remember that, at least to some extent, the book is allegorical or at least very large and sweeping in scope. This means that, while the characters (especially Liir, Trism and Candle) may not initially appear to be well-developed, they actually are - but in a very different manner. It is a story about Oz, not necessarily about the characters. Think of it as a large-scale (Tolkienesque?) drama. Note the way the characters interact and develop and especially what they might represent. If you do not look for it to be a subtle character study (of Liir or otherwise) you will not be disappointed.
3. Read some of the original Oz books and note the world that Baum created. You'll find some interesting revelations.
4. Don't be so in love with Elphaba (as you saw her in WICKED) that you expect the same from Liir. I struggled with this, but had to keep reminding myself that Elphaba is dead and this is an entirely different novel.
5. Maguire is a master at subtle language and imagery. Another reviewer wrote about how he went back and re-read certain passages. That reviewer was a brilliant man, for many aspects of this novel (note: ESPECIALLY THE DEVELOPMENT OF LIIR) come together beautifully when examined under the lens of Maguire's language.
6. This is not a spoiler here: Liir really does develop; he just has a long way to go from his point of origin. Don't expect him to start out as a fully-developed and fascinating character (that is not Maguire's intent at all) and you'll not be disappointed in him. Just sit back and allow yourself to go with the flow.
With many apologies to those who might find this review to be a bit over didactic, I will end it here. This really is not a bad novel, but you must read it for what it is.
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