Ozma of Oz
L. Frank Baum
I’ll get this out of the way now, I’ve no idea why this book is titled Ozma of Oz, while Ozma is in it, she’s a secondary character and has little to nothing to do with the events of the novel, you could excise her entirely and the novel would remain pretty much unchanged. The title would have been more appropriate for the second book where she is at least technically the main character.
The book isn’t even set in Oz, instead moving the action to the neighbouring country of Ev.
Odd title aside though I really enjoyed this one. It sees the return of Dorothy as she is dragged off a ship (heading to see family in Australia) during a storm and wakes up in Ev alongside new character Belina, a talking chicken.
She also meets TikTok, a clockwork man (actually my favourite character in the two Oz films) and the three travel to meet a princess with interchangeable heads before going underground to meet the Nome King and rescue the royal family of Ev whom the Nome king has transformed into ornaments.
The book feels a lot more solid as a novel than the previous two in the series, the plot being far more substantial. The plots of the last two books served as little more than an excuse to get Dorothy and Pip down the road to where they would meet the next interesting character, the plot feeds the characters instead of the characters feeding the plot. Here the balance is restored and the book has a lot more direction.
The characters in general are more interesting, Dorothy has been fleshed out, given the personality she lacked in the first book. As a result she’s a much more proactive character, taking matters into her own hands instead of letting her companions come up with the plans.
The new characters are all enjoyable, the best of the bunch perhaps being Ozma’s cowardly army consisting entirely of generals with only one Private so they have someone to order around. Their constant excuses as to why they can’t jump into battle feel like something lifted directly from a Terry Pratchett novel. The Ankh-Morpork City Watch done almost a hundred years earlier.
This was a very enjoyable book, still incredibly simple reading, but it hints at a potential for the series to evolve into something much more epic than the original book would suggest. As with the others in the series it is original, imaginative and a lot of fun.