Out of Oz (The Wicked Years, #4)

By Gregory Maguire

18,305 ratings - 3.84* vote

Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, the Cowardly Lion is on the run from the law, and Dorothy is back. Amid chaos and war, Elphaba’s green granddaughter born at the end of "Son of a Witch", comes of age. Rain will take up her broom, and bring the series to a close. Oz is knotted with social unrest: The Emerald City is mounting an invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda is under house arrest, the

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Book details

Hardcover, 568 pages
November 1st 2011 by William Morrow
ISBN
0060548940 (ISBN13: 9780060548940)
Edition Language
English

Community Reviews

Dan

After the third book, I did not have high hopes for the end of the series. The previous books had left too much unfinished - too many characters had dropped off the map, too many unexplained occurrences, too much dull backstory (*cough* book three)

This book, however, was fantastic. The writing was fantastic, the plot moved along at a good clip, and storylines and characters were wrapped up in a very satisfying way. I enjoyed the callbacks to the previous books, musical, and movie - though I'm sure some will find those to be cheap distractions. It absolutely exceeded my expectations, as I feared there was just too much there for Maguire to work with. I should not have worried!

I felt this was excellent way to end the series. If you enjoyed books 1 & 2 (even if you weren't a huge fan of book 3, like me), you're really going to enjoy this final volume.

Michael

Wicked is one of my favorite books of all time. Not only is Gregory Maguire's writing one of the great joys of modern literature, but the expertise with which he created Oz within the boundaries put out by L. Frank Baum before him was enchanting. However, when he decided to write Son of a Witch a decade later and then A Lion Among Men, some of the magic was lost. Maguire's writing was still top-notch and kept me enthralled throughout reading those novels, but I couldn't help noticing it seemed as though he wasn't entirely sure where to take his story after killing off the Wicked Witch of the West. The groundwork of where he wanted to take his story was there, but they, in my opinion, didn't really come to fruition due to - possibly - the short length of those two novels.

Out of Oz is a monster. Clocking in at 563 pages, it's even longer than Wicked and tackles concepts much more grand. Oz is in complete disarray, with Munchkinland at war with the Emerald City, Glinda is under house arrest, Dorothy has returned and is being charged with the murders of both Wicked Witches, etc. To say the least, the land of Oz is not the one to which you were introduced in the 1939 film.

To be frank, the first two hundred (or even three hundred?) pages of this novel are long and tedious. Even painfully so. Without giving too much away, it involves a lot of walking through landscapes and visiting different places of Oz that have little importance except for the fact that certain characters are hiding out from the persecution of the army. If you've read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I think you have a sense of what I'm talking about. However, as tedious as they may be, these scenes seem to offer a final farewell to places throughout the Oz landscape that have been visited in previous novels in the series, so they were for the most part forgivable. It's just the getting through it that's hard.

Once you pass those sections, however, it becomes much easier to appreciate the work as a whole. Maguire finally shows his vast talent at winding different, convoluted plotlines around each other, with twists that are both completely unexpected but make perfect sense. The characters introduced throughout this series that never really had a chance to be developed properly (Brr, Glinda, Candle, Nor, Trism, and of course, Rain and Liir) are all illustrated in this novel with great skill and care, making each character interesting.

Needless to say, Out of Oz is the best Maguire novel since Wicked. In equal parts heartbreaking, funny, melancholic, and rewarding, it gave the series a conclusion that is fully deserved and left just enough unanswered questions to keep the reader guessing at to what truly happened within its pages. Elphaba would be proud.

Noelle Joslyn

Hope this makes up for the big disappointment that was #3...EDIT: Nope, not really. Got about halfway through and lost interest. :/

Correna Mcclure

My question to all is - do you honestly love these books or do you love reading about the beloved characters and OZ? I read Wicked (before the musical) because I was entrigued by the question "are we born wicked or is wicked thrust upon us?". I loved the OZ books as a child and was exited to revisit them as an adult with adult themes. I continued through the series and have just finished Out of Oz. That is a whole lot of book for no more story than there is. Sorry Mr. Maguire, I wanted to love the whole series but I just don't. The sequels just don't compare to Wicked.

Jill Furedy

So this was the end? It seemed like it was leading off into a new series, involving the sea or waterlife that was referenced by the shell, the Chancel of Ladyfish, the lakes, Dorothy's story of the ocean and deserts of Oz, the beavers dam and implication of an ocean, plus a mention of water below Kiamo Ko and of course the water that killed Elphaba. The Atlantis quote at the end also led me to wonder whether he would be writing something to connect Atlantis or some other lost underwater world to Oz. But as usual, nothing is fully explained.
I'm not a fan of tying everything up in neat bow at the end all the time, but there was a little too much left unfinished to me. What happened to Dorothy (though that I understand, this isn't her story, still I'd like to know..)? What happened to Brrr when he was free to leave Oz again, he can't follow the Time Clock, he's lost Nor, so now what? Liir, Candle and Trism all disappear, but they've been relatively boring throughout, so I only partially wondered where they ended up. And Glinda...I assume I know who opened her door, but then what?
Mainly I wanted to know what was happening with Tip...he found Rain previously and we assume could do so again. But what was taking so long, does he not want to find her again with the change in, um, circumstances? I was a little disappointed that in the ending, getting rid of the Grimmerie seems to be Rain's big step...I'd hoped she was looking for Elphaba, or discovering other countries beyond Oz, doing something big. Instead it seems the Grimmerie represents all that was bad for the family, instead of it being something that none of them past Elphaba bothered to try to use it or to learn about it. In theory you can be a good witch or a bad witch, right? Perhaps power does corrupt, but I'm not sure that we could tell that since it was hardly used. And with the loss of the Time Clock and the Grimmerie, it seems Rain only helped with the destruction of magic in Oz. Sure they say she should live life without 'grasping for magic', which I guess is supposed to be admirable, but I must have missed the part where she was much affected by magic. It seems a waste and almost a loss of her heritage.
I liked that this book had Glinda, Dorothy and I liked Mr Boss and Little Daffy. The other characters tend toward so much melancholy that it's hard to feel affectionate towards them...even Brr...I want to like him, but he annoys me so much of the time! When I first read Wicked, I liked it but was the only one of the bookclub to get past the first three chapters, everyone else found it boring. I did wonder how it got to be so popular and inspired a musical, because it's interesting but not particularly fun to read. I read the rest of the series even though you feel like there's not a plot, just rambling through Oz, even when significant events are occuring. They'll mention a year has passed since the last sentence, and apparently nothing interesting enough to share happened. If the writing wasn't so well done, the characters and the plot might not have been enough to keep me reading. And that was how it wrapped up as well. Mild curiousity as to what happened to everyone, but no real sense of urgency to find out.

Dan

If it were possible to give a book 0 stars I would have done so. Wicked was a wonderful story. The other books in the series dragged on, but I always assumed that there was a point to the story. I read every single page of the books..... and I wish that Maguire was going to bring us to a fun and exciting conclusion. However, it wasnt meant to be. I dont think the problem with the story was Rain, other people didnt care about the character. I think the problem was that the story felt like an incoherent collection of unrelated stories. It truly seems to have been written as a collection of stories, instead of as a novel. There are even a few times in the book where there is a passage of time, where the author says, then a few months have gone by..... really???? Nothing happens in a few months? By the time something interesting happens, there are only 50 pages left, and then there is no conclusion. I get it, I understand the end, but it isnt an end, it isnt noteworthy, it is just like the end of every other chapter in the book, blah, boring and meaningless.

Andrea McDowell

The only thing I have against Out of Oz is that it's not Wicked.

Elphaba kicked ass. She was such an amazing character, the kind of female character we almost never see in fiction, and in fantasy fiction even more rarely. She was an uncompromising, sharp-tongued, idealistic, ugly, morally flawed, brilliant, shy, political, complicated character.

Maguire's other Oz books have been good, even excellent, but how could they live up to Elphaba?

So it is with Out of Oz. Maguire competently and beautifully wraps up the main storylines into a pretty bow; he presents us with complicated, interesting characters facing complicated, difficult situations. It's just not Wicked.

But to pan Out of Oz by this comparison would be unjust. Compare it to the general run of fantasy literature and it comes out looking very well indeed: look, most of them still have knights or soldiers on noble quests to rescue maidens from dragons/monsters/dungeons and rightfully assume the crown of the novel's generic Middle Earth knock-off. Alternatively, it may be a lowly servant, stableboy or schoolboy who learns he is the Chosen One and who, through cunning use of his wits, rescues the maiden from the dragon/dungeon/monster and rightfully assumes the crown of the novel's generic Middle Earth knock-off. Any female characters run the same range: the saucy barmaid, the frizzy-haired cackling witch, the dark-haired evil sorceress, the hapless and possibly obnoxious princess, etc.

Compared to Raymond Feist, David Eddings, Piers Anthony, et al, Out of Oz is a work of genius. There are fully-realized, well-rounded, complicated female characters, good and bad parents, characters whose motivations and intentions you are never quite sure of, a very unusual and original romance (for fantasy--Yann Martel broke that ground in Self, so far as I know), an intriguing and well-paced plot ... just no Elphaba.

Amanda

Well, I was wholeheartedly applauding this last installment (Book #4) of the Wicked Years until about 3/4 of the way through. It was exciting and had all the shrewd, insightful remarks and general observations of life that I've come to expect from Maguire. If I was a more organized person, I would follow that statement with some of those great quotes. Unfortunately, I'm not.

This book has appearances from almost all the most-loved characters of the series, including Glinda, Liir (who is Elphaba's (the wicked witch's) son), Candle, Nor, the Lion, the Clock of the Time Dragon and many others. It also really focuses on the strained political situation in Oz, especially the annexation of Munchkinland from Loyal Oz and the subsequent war. However, the book really seems to go off on a tangent for a few hundred pages and I didn't feel like it was an especially pertinent storyline to require so much time spent on it. But, on the other hand I can understand why Maguire beleived it did.

I love that Maguire has taken a classic and created another timeless tale set in Oz. He took Baum's children's stories and turned them into books entirely for adults. None of Maguire's books in this series are happy go lucky, they are very real life. Do not expect an altogether happy ending to this edition either. I did love that this series allowed me to experience the same feeling I had when first watching The Wizard of Oz as a child all over again as an adult.

I highly recommend picking up Book #1, Wicked, and giving it a try.

Linda Isakson

"Out of Oz" is Maguire's fourth and final installment of the Wicked Years Series. Of course, I was thrilled to be sent a copy of this book to review on behalf of HarperCollins publishers, as I've been closely following these books over the past decade or so. Before reviewing the actual book, I'd like to give a brief synopsis of my thoughts on the first three books.

"Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West". This is by-and-large one of my most favorite books ever written. In my humble opinion, it's as near to perfection status as any novel can attain. This magnificent story sweeps a plethora of topics (philosophy, romance, infidelity, revenge, friendship, betrayal, racism (speciesism?), xenophobia, terrorism, love, courage, wisdom, etc, etc.) into an unforgettable saga that keeps the reader thinking long after the last page has been read. The discussion on the nature of evil could be pulled out the novel and published separately it is so thought-provoking. With that, I had high expectations for the following books.

"Son of a Witch". Unfortunately, not as captivating, witty or philosophical as "Wicked" but it was a great story, with a doozy of an ending that left you wanting more.

"A Lion Among Men". Frankly, I found this one a bit boring. Probably because it focused so much on Brr (the Lion) and didn't have Maguire's trademark multiple threads weaving their way throughout the novel. It was readable, just not as engrossing. While it gave a good backstory and filled in the gaps of Brr's activities after Elphaba dies in the first novel, a reader could take-it-or-leave-it without significant knowledge gaps coming into the final book.

And now, "Out of Oz". Great story! Not as amazing as "Wicked" but a realistic synthesis of events and their ultimate conclusion. The war between the Emerald City and Munchkinland finally comes to a head. Rain, Liir and Candle's daughter (Elphaba's granddaughter), makes her initial appearance as a young servant in Glinda's household before Glinda's P.O.W. status forces Rain to flee. After finding her parents, she is sent to a boarding school in order to get an education, but mostly to hide her from the eyes of both the Munchkinlanders and the new Emperor, Shell (Elphaba's brother and Rain's great-uncle) who has fashioned himself a deity. Dorothy makes her way back to Oz, only to face trial for the "murders" of sisters Nessarose and Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witches of the East and West. Events culminate with Rain and Dorothy confronting Shell, nearly destroying the Emerald City and rediscovering the long-lost Goddess of Oz, Ozma. Of course, this is a uber simplification of an over 550 page novel. Along the way, Liir, Candle, Brr, Nor, Granny, the Tick Tock Clock, General Cherrystone, Iskinaary and Toto all make their reappearances, too. Parts of the story proceeded at a much slower pace than I would have liked, but on the whole the story flowed effortlessly between storylines and moved quicker as the climax approached. The end wasn't really an end, but then, life rarely has cookie-cutter endings.

Keith Chawgo

I have just finished reading the final volume of the Wicked series and have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the finale of the saga. Mr Maguire really out did himself with the last installment by writing rich narratives, fascinating chareacters and even nodding towards updates of characters from the previous three volumes.

War has transcended on Oz and everyone is torn between the two camps which lives are lost and destruction is rife. Rain, Glinda, Liir, Candle, Brr (The Cowardly Lion) and Dorothy must figure out their destination and sort out their roles to play in the scheme of things.

The descriptions of all the characters are richly written though at times, it does sometimes feel to be overwritten but this is more down to Maquire's style than anything. The author's ability to interweve the mythos of Oz from Braum and spin it on its head while remaining true to the origins is admirable feat which is done extremely well.

It should be warned that this is not a stand alone book and each of the volumes should be read in order. Wicked is brilliant, Son of the Witch suffers from (in my opinion) not a very likeable character and the emptiness of it but does serve a purpose in the series. Lion Amongst Men another interesting book that is another lead to book.

It is also important to note that whilst reading Out of Oz, Lion Amongst Men and Son of the Witch become more clear and more important to the saga.

The ending of the book is satisfying but as in life, there are no easy solutions and not everything is tied up with a fancy bow. Overall, this is a fantastic end to a truly wonderful saga of Oz. Highly recommended.

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