Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire

This is the third installment in the books about the "Wicked" years - the series that began with the ever popular book, Wicked. Both were written by Gregory Maguire, whose poularity seemingly hinges on re-writing fairy tales from a different perspective. Where Wicked was witty, unfortunately Maguire's subsequent books tend to lack the wittiness and the uniqueness that made Wicked so wonderful to read.

A Lion Among Men begins with the Cowardly Lion, whose name is actually Brrr, meeting with Sister Yackle, an ancient oracle who is living in the same convent that Elphaba lived in before starting off on her tryst as the Wicked Witch of the West. Brr, who is employed by the new Emperor of OZ, has been sent to meet with Yackle in the hopes of getting information about Elphaba, Liir (her son), the Thropp family and the Grimmerie (the witch's book). Sister Yackle is a pretty good adversary for Brr because she sets up a system of give and take: for each piece of information that she gives him about Elphaba and the Grimmerie, he must give her some information about himself, leading him to recall repressed memories of his childhood through the present and which includes his interactions with Elphaba, Dorothy and the current administration of Oz.

The book starts off quite slowly - I had trouble getting into it mostly because Maguire uses winding prose and similarly winding plotlines that don't always make sense until the end of the novel. For instance, we learn about a young woman who life is intertwined with the infamous clock dragon; however these interludes don't make full sense until the end of the novel and are pretty confusing. I didn't like this novel nearly as much as Wicked because i didn't think it was as creatively written and there were no interesting revelations about the Lion or the other characters, as there were in Wicked.  It was slow and sometimes boring.

I'd pass on this one.

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