Archive | October, 2008

A Lion Among Men By Gregory Maguire

19 Oct

 

It has been three long years since we last traveled to OZ. And much has changed.

The land, once joined together, is now separated into two parties: those that support the current Wizard of OZ and the Munchkinlanders who long to be free and their own people.

It is not the OZ we’ve come to know. It is an OZ on the brink of war and on the cusp of social change. Whether it is change for the better remains to be seen.

Heedless of the turmoil of OZ that surrounds him, Brr, The Cowardly Lion, is on a mission. He must find Yackle, Oracle and Seer, and find out why her name was mentioned in the papers of the deceased Miss Morrible. Miss Morrible used to teach Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West.

He has other questions too: what really happened to Elphaba? Where is Liir, Elphaba’s son? And, though he is loathe to admit it, The Cowardly Lion has questions about himself too. Does Yackle know where he came from? Was he really freed by Elphaba from a cage?

Brr will get the answers he seeks. But first, Yackle wants to know where his life has taken him, what paths have brought him to her. Yackle asks him to tell her of his life before she goes to the life beyond death.

Brr concedes, thinking to tell her a few details to please her so that she will answer his questions. But Brr does not count on the power of the past. Once it is glanced at, it cries out to be examined, to be searched for clues, to be experienced all over again.

Memories, after all, are a powerful magic all their own….

 A Lion Among Men is the third book in Maguire’s Wicked Years series and it’s the best one by far. Where Wicked was good, Son of a Witch was great, A Lion Among Men is amazing!

Where Wicked suffered from being too long and Son of a Witch suffered from not having enough to do with the characters we know and love from The Wizard of Oz, A Lion Among Men has us once again following the yellow brick road. And boy what a trip.

They say that the third time is a charm and that is certainly the case with Maguire’s A Lion Among Men. He’s clearly found his stride and it’s the best book in the series. What’s lovely about the novel is getting to know The Cowardly Lion from a different perspective. We only briefly glimpsed him in Wicked and Son of a Witch.

Now we get to know him intimately. This is his book after all.

And, much like Elphaba who had wickedness thrust upon her, I wonder if Brrr The Cowardly Lion is really cowardly after all.

A Lion Among Men is a very intimate book. As well as getting to know Brrr, we get to know Yackle and how she came to know the two women who would become the Wicked Witches of Oz. Some of the answers we learn in A Lion Among Men were from questions or mysteries first posed in Wicked, so the book should please fans of the series.

But even better than that, A Lion Among men is a wonderful parable and parallel of one lion among men who, though surrounded by people, is incredibly alone.

A Lion Among Men is one portrait of a lonely lion haunted by a need to belong. It’s at once funny, charming, harrowing, bleak and incredibly beautiful. If you haven’t read A Lion Among Men yet, do yourself a favour and visit OZ again.

We’re not in Kansas anymore.

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