Marvellous Land of Oz – Frank L Baum
Frank L Baum’s first book that told the well known tale of how Dorothy and her unique friends stumbled to the Emerald city to meet the great wizard of Oz surprised me. It differed quite a bit from the film and was rather simplistic even for a children’s book. However, I found I enjoyed it immensely and was eager to read more of the novels set in Oz.
The Marvellous Land of Oz is Frank L Baum’s follow-up that he wrote several years later and mainly because the fans demanded it.
The sequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and set shortly after the events in the first book, The Marvellous Land of Oz follows the adventures of a young boy named Tip, who, for as long as he can remember, has been under the guardianship of a witch named Mombi in the Land of Oz. One night he plans his escape to the Emerald City, stealing Mombi's powder of life. Along the way he meets with our old friends the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman as well as making some new ones such as Jack Pumpkinhead, the Wooden Sawhorse, the Highly Magnified Woggle-Bug, and the amazing Gump. Can they escape Mombi and make it to the Emerald City? A fantastical tale of endless imagination, The Marvellous Land of Oz is as exciting and endearing today as it was when first published over eighty years ago.
The Marvellous Land of Oz is a considerably shorter book than its predecessor, it is also more rounded. Frank L Baum takes his time to tell the story and although the protagonists still jump from scene to scene and find their problems resolved in a few sentences, the author takes more time and care with the characters in this second entry.
Kip is developed better than Dorothy. He is given more of a voice, although not much. The Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman (who actually gets a name this time round) are both good characters, each fixated on the gifts they received from the wizard. The real stars of the book through are Kip’s creations – Jack the Pumpkin head and the Saw-Horse. Jack is a hypochondriac, afraid of anything and everything that may hurt his head – even though he is not educated enough to know what that might be! Whilst the Saw-horse is bitter and grouchy.
The result is an assortment of characters that are genuinely comical. At times I felt I was almost reading a Terry Pratchett book. The lines that some of the characters mutter are truly funny. There is also evidence of satire in the novel. Frank L Baum does a wonderful job of laughing at the treatment of women by having them rise up and usurp the throne with their knitting needles as weapons.
This is the main plot of the novel but really serves as a means for the character to explore Oz and argue amongst themselves as they stumble from one adventure to the next. That is not to say that it is not interesting. The leader of the women is JinJur, a woman who acts somewhere between a smug ruler and a spoilt little girl. She is assisted by Mombi – who is a witch without being a witch and who also used Kip as an errand boy come slave. Both serve as good antagonists, the former naively but the latter what I expected the wicked witch of the West to be in the first book.
There is also something of a twist in the story which contributes nicely to the overall flow of the novel.
All in all, the Marvellous Land of Oz is a more rounded and accomplished effort from Frank L Baum. A little more time has been taken with each setting and character and the overall plot is more comprehensive. For such a quick and easy read, I can see myself blasting through the whole Oz series.
My rating 8.5