Friday, December 31, 2010

The Royal Podcast of Oz: 2011

As the Royal Podcast of Oz looks forward to going into its third year, Jared Davis and Sam Milazzo (and a little bit from Nathan DeHoff) announce their Ozzy plans for 2011, including Oz books, the Winkie Convention, the Royal Blog of Oz, videos, and the podcast itself.

As always, you can listen at the podcast site, or use the player below.

Life in a Jar

Cross-posted from Stratovania, with a few minor edits.

Turning back to the subject of jinn for a little while, today's topic is none other than the Red Jinn of Ev, one of Ruth Plumly Thompson's most noteworthy additions to the Oz series. The Jinn, who goes by the name Jinnicky, is also known as the Wizard of Ev, and he lives in a red glass castle on the shore of the Nonestic Ocean. His body is completely encased in a ginger jar, into which he can withdraw himself like a turtle, and he is an expert in red magic. Many of his spells involve jars and incense, and some of his magical items will only work at certain times of day. Inventions of his include a flying Jinrikisha that he uses to get around, and a pair of Looking Glasses that will take the wearer to whatever they're looking for.

The character is first introduced in Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, in which he's a somewhat pivotal character, but not a particularly major one. Jack and Peter Brown find the Jinn's dinner bell, which will summon a slave with a tray of food whenever someone rings it. When his companions are swallowed up by a magic sack, Jack gets the idea to grab the slave as he dematerializes, and ends up at the red glass castle. In this book, the castle is described as being "on the edge of a green glass sea," with a beach that "was a gleaming stretch of glass splinters." The Jinn himself turns out to be a rather odd fellow, who laughs uncontrollably at the slightest provocation, but also has a terrible temper when disappointed. John R. Neill's illustration of the character makes him look very creepy.

The Jinn receives a brief mention in Pirates, but it's Purple Prince that really elevates him to the status of a major character, and also softens him considerably. He still has his exaggerated moods and a tendency to joke about everything, but he comes across as somewhat more of an overgrown spoiled child than the unpredictably bizarre character he had been in Jack Pumpkinhead. The beach on which his castle sits is no longer made up of glass splinters (my personal explanation is that the glass was the result of a magical experiment gone awry), and is clearly identified as being located in Ev. In this book, Randy and Kabumpo visit Jinnicky to seek his help in restoring the royal family of Pumperdink. He takes a liking to Randy immediately, and while he's initially bothered by Kabumpo's haughty manner, the two of them also become friends during their journey. It's also in this book that Jinnicky first meets Ozma and the Wizard of Oz, and becomes an ally of the former and a professional rival of the latter. He shows up at a party held by Ozma in Wishing Horse, and is one of the people sent to the bottom of Lightning Lake by King Skamperoo's spell. Neill also started drawing him with a much more pleasant appearance.

By the time of Silver Princess, Jinnicky is clearly a good guy. Well, at least that seems to be how Thompson wants her readers to think of him, but the actions in this book don't entirely support that, especially when examined from a modern viewpoint. Gludwig, the manager of Jinnicky's ruby mines, leads a rebellion of the Jinn's black slaves, getting Jinnicky himself out of the way by throwing him into the ocean. When the Jinn regains his throne, with the aid of Randy and Kabumpo, it's reported that his miners "were only too willing to return to the mines, for with Jinnicky back in power their hours were short, their wages high and each miner had his own cozy cottage and garden." Then why did they want to rebel in the first place? While a compelling plot (if one that starts rather late in the story), it comes uncomfortably close to a popular racist myth of the time (appearing, from what I've heard, in the film Birth of a Nation), which is that the American black slaves were HAPPY doing difficult manual labor for no pay, until outside agitators stirred them up.

When Jinnicky and his court return in Yankee, Thompson's last book to feature the Wizard of Ev, his staff is still largely black, but with no hint of their being slaves. Ginger, the boy who responds to the magic dinner bell, is now simply a bellboy. The Jinn also mentions that his country now has a "share and share alike" economy, with everyone sharing equally in the profits from the ruby mines (although Jinnicky himself still gets the most). Kind of odd that an American children's book from the Cold War era would present a communist system in a positive light, but I guess Thompson didn't roll with the punches in EVERY respect.

Despite his slave-keeping, Jinnicky is a favorite of many Oz fans (as he was of Thompson himself), and shows up from time to time in fan-written works. I understand that there was a book from the forties with the Jinn as the title character, but it's difficult to find, and I haven't read it (although I'd definitely like to). I have, however, read Robert Pattrick's origin story for Jinnicky, which appears in an Oziana from the seventies. This tale explains how, under the tutelage of Glinda, the jug-maker and minor magician Juggins becomes the great Wizard of Ev.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Don't Forget the Elephant!

Cross-posted from here, with some minor editing.

Really, I don't think it would be possible for anyone to forget the most famous pachyderm in Oz, the Elegant Elephant Kabumpo. He's quite possibly Ruth Plumly Thompson's most successful addition to the roster of Oz characters, and one of my favorites as well. He's a very well-defined character, being rather pompous, elitist, convinced of his own rightness, and quick to anger. At the same time, however, he's loyal to his friends, quick with a joke, and so wise that King Pompus, the ruler of his home kingdom of Pumperdink, trusts him more than any of his other advisors. He's been granted the title of Prince and Chancellor of the Realm, and is considered part of the Pumperdinkian royal family.

Kabumpo's origins aren't totally clear. We know that he's the only elephant in Pumperdink or any nearby kingdom (although not the only one in Oz; a few others are mentioned as early on as Wizard), and his first appearance (in Kabumpo in Oz; he's apparently such a prominent character that he received a book title right away) identifies him as a gift to Pompus from from a mysterious stranger at the christening of the King's son, Prince Pompadore. Later books, however, say that Kabumpo was a gift from a celebrated Blue Emperor. This discrepancy provides the main plot idea for Henry Blossom's Blue Emperor, in which the long-forgotten Emperor turns out to be both Pompus' brother and Ozma's grandfather.

The Elegant Elephant's starring roles often involve his being totally convinced of something, only to turn out to be wrong. He thinks that Ozma is the proper princess for Pompadore to marry (Kabumpo), that a dummy with the unfortunate name of Humpy is King Pastoria under enchantment (Lost King), that the Red Jinn lives in the Quadling Country (Purple Prince), and that Toby Bridlecull kidnapped Ozma (Forbidden Fountain). Nonetheless, his heart is in the right place, and he's been willing to put himself into undignified situations when he deems it necessary.

Since the pachyderm is such a popular character, he's appeared in several apocryphal Oz books. I've already mentioned Blue Emperor, and Magic Dishpan introduces his sister Kabina. This elephant isn't really characterized that well, and I've seen it suggested that the author originally just wanted to use Kabumpo himself, but changed it to be on the safe side of copyright. Still, the idea that Kabumpo has a sister with whom he still keeps in touch is interesting. I've considered the idea of King Pompus having his own sister (he already has one canonical and one non-canonical brother, so why not?), and maybe Kabina was a gift from the Blue Emperor to this sister. Kabina actually appears again in Chris Dulabone's Purloined Pachyderm, albeit in a minor role.

Randy Spandy Jack-A-Dandy

Cross-posted from here.

Ruth Plumly Thompson's Oz books are loaded with young princes, usually questing to save their kingdoms. These include Pompadore of Pumperdink, Tatters of Ragbad, Evered of Rash, Philador of the Ozure Isles, Tandy of Ozamaland, and our current subject, Randy of Regalia. Randy is actually the only one of these princes to serve as a protagonist in two different books, The Purple Prince of Oz and The Silver Princess in Oz. Near the end of the former, he is referred to by the full name of "Randywell Handywell Brandenburg Bompadoo," which is expanded in the latter to "Randywell, King Handywell of Brandenburg and Bompadoo." So what are Brandenburg and Bompadoo? There is, of course, a Brandenburg in Germany, but it's unlikely that Randy is the king of a place in the Great Outside World. In my own personal Oz imaginings, Brandenburg is the old name for Blankenburg, the city of invisible people from Lost King. After all, it presumably wasn't called Blankenburg until Queen Vanetta discovered the water of invisibility. Randy's mother came from there, so he maintains a family connection with the place. Maybe it's more likely that Brandenburg and Bompadoo are both parts of the Kingdom of Regalia itself, however. We're never told, so it's up for interpretation.

Anyway, when Randy shows up in Purple Prince, he wanders into Pumperdink and annoys King Pompus, but Kabumpo takes a liking to him and hires him as his personal attendant. We're not told anything about his background until much later in the book, but given the title and a chapter about halfway through about the Prince of Regalia having to pass seven tests, not to mention that pretty much EVERY Thompson character without an established background turns out to be royalty, the reveal really isn't a surprise. Purple Prince is the tale of how Randy, with help from Kabumpo and the Red Jinn, passes the necessary tests to become King of Regalia, and incidentally assists in saving Pumperdink from the wicked witch Faleero. He starts out the story in a rather sullen mood, but soon gets caught up in the adventure, showing his heroic qualities. He also has to constantly mediate between the strong personalities of his two companions. When we see him again in Silver Princess, he's bored with his royal duties, and longing for more adventures, even going so far as to want someone to punch him in the nose.

So how did someone so young end up becoming king? Well, his father decided to abdicate and become a hermit. It's never explained what happened to his mother, and while it's tempting to assume that her death is what led to the old king's drastic lifestyle change, we have to remember that death is nearly impossible in Oz. Regardless, his only relative with whom he's still in contact is his uncle, the Grand Duke Hoochafoo, known as Hoochafoo the Foolish to the people of Regalia.
The purple-bearded old man is rather stuffy, and a strong voice for tradition and ceremony, but he obviously cares for his nephew. When Hoochafoo suggests that Randy get married, the king's initial response is that he's too young, but he's married by the end of the book. Age can be a tricky matter in Oz, and Thompson fudges the numbers somewhat in determining how old the boy really is. When Kabumpo says Randy was "only about ten" when the two of them met, the young king states that he had been ten for "about four years" before that. Aging is a choice in Oz, at least in Thompson's concept of the land, and it seems that a lot of children decide to remain ten indefinitely. I suppose no one really wants to go through adolescence unless they really have to, but Randy might have aged a few years in order to deal with his new responsibilities and level the playing field with his uncle. Actually, come to think of it, if Hoochafoo was never in line for the throne, then he was presumably Randy's father's YOUNGER brother, raising the question of how old the former king was when Randy was born. Also, we're told that Hoochafoo "had once been married," but not what happened to his wife. Anyway, during the course of his travels in Silver Princess, Randy falls in love with an alien. No, really. Planetty, Princess of Anuther Planet, accidentally finds herself on Earth after a trip on a thunderbolt and meets up with Randy and Kabumpo. Thompson, who seems to have held more traditional views on gender roles than Baum, emphasizes how readily Planetty takes to domestic tasks, but she's also a capable adventurer, defending herself with a staff that can petrify enemies. They only know each other for a few days before marrying, which would probably spell disaster in real life (especially since, while Randy immediately develops a crush on Planetty, she seems to conflate her feelings for him with those of the colorful new world in general), but this IS a fairy tale. According to the end of the book, the King and Queen of Regalia divide their time between their home castle and adventuring journeys, and I get the impression that Planetty is a good companion for Randy in both parts of their lives.

Randy doesn't show up much in fan-written stories, or at least not the ones I've read. One exception is Jeff Freedman's Magic Dishpan, in which Randy and Planetty inexplicably seem to be rulers of the Gillikin Country. I suppose this could be because the rulers Thompson left in that position, Joe King and Queen Hyacinth, were (and are) still under copyright. Indeed, the book shows several signs of having been altered just to keep on the safe side of the copyright holders. Silver Princess is actually in the public domain, but Purple Prince isn't, so while Planetty appears for a significant role, Randy and Kabumpo are only alluded to. Planetty is, however, assisted by two suspiciously familiar new characters: the knight Sir Dynar and Kabumpo's sister Kabina. I don't have the book on hand right now, but I seem to recall one part in which Sir Dynar becomes jealous when an enchanted frog tries to get Planetty to kiss him. This would make more sense if he were her husband than merely her protector, unless she and Dynar have a Guinevere/Lancelot thing going on, but that would be somewhat out of place in an Oz book (and Magic Dishpan really seems geared toward an even younger audience than the Famous Forty). I get the impression that Sir Dynar initially WAS Randy, but was changed to avoid possible copyright trouble, and the editing job was a bit sloppy. Or maybe Dynar IS Randy, journeying incognito so no one knows he's a king (which, when his kingdom is under siege by an evil magician, might not be a bad plan).

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Oh... It's Christmas... Here... for two and a half more hours...

...and this is one of the few blogs that hasn't had a post today...

Well, hope you had a good Christmas!

Tomorrow, if all things work out, I'll be recording a quick podcast with Sam and maybe someone else... To be released before year's end.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Purple Prince of Oz

Remember Pumperdink? Remember Kabumpo? They first appeared back in Thompson's second Oz book, Kabumpo in Oz, in 1922, but since then, we've heard nothing of this little Gillikin Country, save Kabumpo making an appearance in the 1925 Oz book, The Lost King of Oz.

A boy named Randy wanders into Pumperdink and is taken before King Pompus as a vagabond. However, Kabumpo decides to make him his manservant. However, Randy and Kabumpo soon go from a member of the court to the rescuers of Pumperdink when Kettywig, Pompus' brother allies himself with Faleero, the aged fairy princess, to make the royal family of Pumperdink vanish and to take over the kingdom for themselves. A Soothsayer tells them to look for the Red Jinn, so Kabumpo heads for the Quadling Country.

Kabumpo and Randy bravely face many obstacles on their way, some quite memorable, like Nandywog, the little giant (who appears fierce, but is actually quite friendly), and some less than memorable. Finally, they find a guide post, who they ask where to find the Red Jinn. It points northwest, which Kabumpo is sure must be wrong, but when Randy asks it to take them to the Red Jinn, it sends them both flying through the air in true Thompson tradition!

Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Regalia, the new King's progress at proving his right to be royal is being tracked...

Randy and Kabumpo find themselves in the palace of Jinnicky, the Red Jinn of Ev. While we first saw the jolly Red Jinn back in Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, but here, the character has become more developed. Jinnicky wears a red ginger jar and has many servants (all black... hmmm...) and a grand vizier named Alibabble. To be honest, Jinnicky is one of my favorite Thompson characters. (You may find out why soon...)

Jinnicky, upon hearing Kabumpo and Randy's story, immediately pledges his help. With help from Polychrome and the Rainbow, they cross the Deadly Desert, and head to Pumperdink, tackling more obstacles and little kingdoms along the way.

Meanwhile, in Pumperdink, Faleero has been making life miserable for everyone (including Kettywig), and finally General Quakes of the army makes the brave attempt to go to Glinda's palace in the south.

Jinnicky, Kabumpo, and Randy encounter Ozwoz, the Wonderful, a wozard, who has an army of wooden soldiers, one of which Jinnicky trades a never-emptying cookie jar for. (I wonder if Ozwoz's wooden soldiers were the inspiration for Alexander Volkov's Deadwood Oaks.) The trade turns out to be a wise one, for the soldier, Johnwahn, is able to seize Faleero and carry her far away. However, they lost the control of him and cannot make him stop. Ozma and the Wizard arrive, having been alerted by General Quakes.

Ozma and the Wizard begin restoring Pumperdink, while Jinnicky, Randy, and Kabumpo head to Faleero's home, hoping to find some clue to restore the Royal Family. As it is night, they start a fire to see by, only to discover the logs they are using are the Royal Family. But they're doing the right thing, as this is the way to restore people who have been changed into wood.

As they return to Pumperdink, Randy finds the controller and makes Johnwahn return with an unconscious Faleero. When she awakens, she flies away, never to be seen again. (For now...) Suddenly, visitors from Pumperdink, who call Randy their new king, as he has passed the seven tests required to be royal. He made three true friends in Kabumpo, Jinnicky, and the giant Nandywog. He served a strange king, Pompus, who was strange while enchanted. He saved Queen Pozy, he proved his bravery in battle, fought a fabulous monster, disenchanted not just one, but two princesses, Peg Amy and her daughter, and even prince Pompadore, and finally received from Jinnicky Johnwahn, a magical treasure. Kabumpo promises to visit, Jinnicky promising to come along.

The Purple Prince of Oz may just be one of Thompson's best. Aside from a dragging second chapter where Kabumpo retells Kabumpo in Oz, the story is exciting and fast paced. She also further develops Pumperdink and Kabumpo, and finally fleshes out the Red Jinn, who had been mentioned and made a cameo in the last two books. Even better, in Baum tradition, the villains, no matter how bad, are aptly punished, and everyone who they hurt restored and made happy again.

Sadly, though, when it came to Oz, Thompson had a very shallow well of ideas, and being required to write a book annually was beginning to take its toll on her. However, her awareness of this weakness became a strength, as some of her later stories vastly improved on the former, and The Purple Prince of Oz is one of the better examples.

Santa's Ho-Ho-Home Turf

Cross-posted from here.

When L. Frank Baum wrote about Santa Claus, he was describing a distinctly American figure, but one who was American by way of Europe. The fat, jolly, bearded man in the red suit who slid down chimneys to give gifts came largely from Dutch immigrants, with later elements added to the legend. I did some discussion of the development of the character here. And this is the Santa that Baum describes, although how he became fat isn't entirely clear. Surely Baum's Santa, who refused to hurt any living thing, would be a vegetarian? Then again, in a world where candy and milk-filled udders grow on trees, the difference between meat and vegetable can become rather blurred. Anyway, St. Nicholas was from what is now Turkey, and some attributes of the Santa character are thought to come from stories of Odin giving gifts. So was Baum's Santa European? Taken in and of itself, the book really doesn't tell us. It says that he was raised in the Forest of Burzee, then moved into the adjacent Laughing Valley of Hohaho. Not much description is given of the lands near the valley, but we do know that two noblemen in the area are the Lord of Lerd and the Baron Braun. These nobles forbid Santa Claus from entering their castles, and while the Lord of Lerd presumably relents after his daughter Bessie Blithesome pays a visit to Claus, the Baron never does. It isn't until his son inherits the barony that it is no longer the one place Santa isn't welcome. I wonder if the Baron Braun is related to the Burgermeister Meisterburger.

Anyway, late in the book, we're told that, as people spread out over the world, "Santa Claus found each year that his journeys must extend farther and farther from the Laughing Valley." In the same chapter, Baum writes, "By and by people made ships from the tree-trunks and crossed over oceans and built cities in far lands; but the oceans made little difference to the journeys of Santa Claus. His reindeer sped over the waters as swiftly as over land." Obviously there were people all over the world from well before Santa's time (whenever that was), but they presumably didn't all celebrate Christmas until European settlers arrived there. If this is an indication that Santa didn't cross any oceans prior to his old age and being granted immortality, then it seems like his most likely base of operations would be somewhere in Europe, Asia, or Africa. Then again, just because the mention of the reindeer crossing oceans didn't occur until then doesn't necessarily mean they didn't do it. So where is the Laughing Valley? Well, it's next to Burzee, the forest home of the Fairy Queen Lulea. I believe Santa Claus is the first story in which Baum mentions Burzee, but he uses it again in Queen Zixi of Ix, "The Runaway Shadows," and "Nelebel's Fairyland." The last of these places the fairy forest to the west of California, and "Runaway Shadows" indicates that it's not too far from the Kingdom of Thumbumbia. Finally, on the map in Tik-Tok of Oz, Burzee and the Laughing Valley are shown to be the southeast of Oz, just across the desert from the marvelous land. James E. Haff and Dick Martin, in their expanded version of this map, include Lerd and Thumbumbia as places near the forest and the valley, as well as some lands of unspecified location from the short stories "The Queen of Quok," "The Witchcraft of Mary-Marie," and "The King Who Changed His Mind." None of these lands appears to be especially magical; there's magic at work in all of these stories, but it appears to be the exception rather than the rule. These lands could be where Santa got his start, but although the land mass on which Oz is located is often identified as a continent, travel distances in the books suggest that it's really closer to the size of Ireland. Therefore, Santa presumably wasn't limited to this island even early in his career. I have to suspect Baum didn't really think through the ramifications of placing the Laughing Valley so close to Oz, but I suppose there's no reason why it couldn't work.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Nome Invasions

Cross-posted from here.

I've already discussed the constant invasion attempts of the former Nome King, but this time I'd like to take a closer look at the individual attempts. The first occurs in The Emerald City of Oz, in which King Roquat's goal is to regain the Magic Belt that had been taken from him by Dorothy, and get revenge on the Ozites. His subjects dig a tunnel under the Deadly Desert in order to reach the Land of Oz, and he and General Guph make uneasy allies of the Whimsies, Growleywogs, and Phanfasms. They plan to lay waste to Oz, but it just so happens that the tunnel ends right at the memory-erasing Forbidden Fountain, and the Scarecrow had the idea for Ozma to fill the tunnel with dust. So the invaders drink from the fountain and lose their memories, and Ozma sends them back home and closes up the tunnel. Well, at least that's what this book says. L. Frank Baum informs us that "Ozma used the Magic Belt to close up the tunnel, so that the earth underneath the desert sands became as solid as it was before the Nomes began to dig," yet the tunnel is back again in Jack Snow's Shaggy Man.

The next invasion attempt by the Nome occurs in Magic, and by this time his name is Ruggedo and he is no longer the king. He is merely wandering around Ev until he meets up with Kiki Aru, who knows a magic word of transformation. Ruggedo convinces Kiki to help him conquer Oz, claiming that he will return to his own kingdom once the Hyup is established as king, although we never know how sincere the Nome is in this claim. His idea is that he and Kiki should take the forms of animals, so that they would not be detected by Glinda's Great Book of Records. Wait, hold on a minute. When have we ever known the Book not to record the deeds of animals? In Rinkitink, Dorothy uses it to read about the adventures of Prince Inga and his companions, including Bilbil the goat. Later, in Ruth Plumly Thompson's Cowardly Lion, it mentions the title character. And even if Ruggedo were right about this, how would he know? Reports by spies? This element of the story never really worked for me, and it seems fairly integral to the plot, because otherwise why involve the animals of the Forest of Gugu at all? Wouldn't it have been quicker and easier to just fly to the Emerald City and transform everyone into inanimate objects? Instead, we get the complicated scheme of convincing the animals to rebel, with the intention of turning the people of Oz into beasts and the beasts into humans. They never get all that far in this plot, though, not only because of a lack of trust among the co-conspirators, but also because the Wizard of Oz overhears the Magic Word and takes down the troublemakers quite easily. We never do learn whether any of this made into into Glinda's Record Book.

That's it as far as Nome invasions in the Baum books, but Thompson returns to this idea several times. In Kabumpo, Ruggedo doesn't really have a plan, and is just haphazardly constructing secret passages and stealing things. When he discovers Glegg's Box of Mixed Magic, he experiments with it, but that only results in his ending up a giant with Ozma's palace stuck to his head. After he and the palace are both restored, the former Nome King is banished to a desert island. In Gnome King, he manages to escape it in a seaquake, regain the crown of the Nome Kingdom from Kaliko, and find a Flying Cloak of Invisibility that he uses to travel to the Emerald City. His plan is to steal the Magic Belt from Ozma, but as she is out of town when he arrives, he occupies his time tormenting her friends. When he finally does manage to take the Belt, Peter Brown hits him in the head with the Silence Stone, which just happened to have been in the same casket as the cloak. In both of these books, Ruggedo pretty much just uses materials that he comes across, and isn't as much of a planner as he was in his first two conquest attempts.

In Pirates, Ruggedo's scheme is a little more detailed. He finds an ally in Clocker, the Wise Man of Menankypoo, who provides advice and has access to various magical tools made by Kadj the Conjurer and his daughter Cinderbutton. He also raises a small army of pirates and Octagonese rebels, and trains them to fight. I do think, however, that Thompson kind of ran out of steam toward the end of the plot, as is not uncommon for her. Clocker has a Way-Word that lets the army cross the desert, and then they march to the Emerald City, and quickly conquer the peaceful inhabitants. Ruggedo then sneaks into the palace, steals the Magic Belt, and uses it to dispose of his army and transform a few of the Ozites. You'd think it wouldn't be that easy to sneak in after the pirates had just caused mayhem in the city. Ozma and her court are busy choosing a ruler for a new kingdom, however, and Thompson reports that the Nome was "hidden from view from some of the conjurer's magic." It would have been nice to get a little more detail on this point. The Clock Man uses the Standing-Stick to freeze everyone in the throne room in place, but is taken out of commission when Pigasus shows up and swallows his cuckoo bird. Ruggedo quickly grabs the Stick himself, but is stopped by Captain Salt, who bursts in and grabs him. I suppose this means the Stick only works on anyone in front of its bearer, but if that's the case, then couldn't anyone have done what the captain did? I don't think everyone in the palace was in the throne room at the time, so it seems like it could just as easily have been a random footman who saved the day. Or is there something in how Rug held the Stick that made it less effective? After all, Clocker was the one who really knew how it worked. It seems like a brief mention of this would have sufficed, but these books apparently received next to no editing.

The former Nome King makes one more canonical appearance, and that's in Handy Mandy. The Goat Girl inadvertently turns Ruggedo back from a jug, and he teams up with the Wizard of Wutz to steal Ozma's most powerful magic. As with some of these other attempts, the problem really comes in when the Nome argues with his partner, giving a protagonist (in this case Mandy herself) time to stop them. Rug and his allies not trusting each other is a constant theme in these stories. Even when they never actually have a chance to betray him, we're usually told that they want to. And it's not like the Nome isn't wise to this fact; he generally plans to betray them himself when he's met his goals. I suppose there's a theme here that, if you're not trustworthy yourself, you don't trust anyone else either. Then again, I think I'm fairly trustworthy and I don't really trust other people. I do think there's a clear point here, though; the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" idea never really works out, in real life any more than it does in books.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Meanwhile, on another podcast...

Fellow blogger Doug Wall has begun a podcast. Doug also reads our blog, and I even reviewed his RPG book Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond The Yellow Brick Road here.

In addition, he's appeared on our podcast three times. I interviewed him about his RPG project once, he voiced the Tin Woodman and the Woggle-Bug in last year's Christmas special, and he was the Judge in our production of Aunt 'Phroney's Boy.

ANYWAYS, now he has his own podcast! His first episode reviews another Oz-based RPG system, Oz: Dark and Terrible. I listened to it yesterday, and felt that, even though he does have a competing product, he gave it a very fair review.

So, go check it out!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Whether Pigs Have Wings

As per request, here's my post on Pigasus, cross-posted from here.

When Ruth Plumly Thompson introduced a flying pig into the Oz series, she wasn't being entirely original. The expression "when pigs fly" apparently dates back to an old Scottish proverb, and I've seen many images of winged pigs that have no known connection to Thompson or Oz. The Kids in the Hall even had a flying pig. I'm not sure whether Thompson was the first to refer to such a swine as Pigasus, but that was also the name of the pig that served as John Steinbeck's personal stamp, as well as the Yippies' 1968 presidential candidate (although that pig didn't have any wings). Pirates in Oz, the first Oz book to feature Pigasus, was published in 1931, but I know of no indication that the Yippies read it.

Anyway, though, while maybe not a unique creation, Pigasus is an Oz character whom I quite like. Thompson must have liked him as well, as he actually has a starring role in two of her books, unlike so many of her original characters who were pushed into the background after one significant part. Pigasus is a creation of the Red Jinn, although it's never entirely clear what that means. Did Jinnicky magically modify an existing pig? Was Pigasus the result of selective breeding? I suppose the Wizard of Ev doesn't want to give away all of his secrets. Regardless, Jinnicky gave the pig as a gift to the Duke of Dork. When Captain Salt's crew invaded the Duke's castle boat, Peter Brown traded a Bananny Goat for the flying swine, and Pigasus became part of the reluctant pirate crew. After flying Peter to the Emerald City in an attempt to thwart Ruggedo's latest invasion plan, Pigasus decides to remain there.

In addition to flying, Pigasus also has the magic power to make anyone riding him speak in simple rhyming verses. (Incidentally, an Oziana story by John Bell has the normally rhyming Scraps riding Pigasus and speaking in abstract free verse instead.) And while this ability isn't mentioned in Pirates, Wishing Horse establishes that he can also read the mind of anyone on his back. This power comes in handy when Dorothy is the only one who remembers Ozma after King Skamperoo's enchantment, and the two of them set out together to break the king's spell and restore their rightful ruler.

For what it's worth, I dressed up as Pigasus for the 1996 Munchkin Convention and the following Halloween, but I don't have any pictures handy.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Pirates in Oz

Thompson's book for 1931. The title: Pirates in Oz. The cover, a boy and a scruffy, bearded pirate on the rigging of a ship at sea. What does this indicate? Adventure! But will Thompson deliver?

So, where do we begin? Ruggedo, still mute from last time, has managed to leave Oz and is heading south along the Ev coastline. He comes across the the Land of Menankypoo, where he is made the dumb king, as he is mute, but also passes a series of tests pretending to be stupid.

As he explores, he finds a cave, with some magic tools, including a pond that restores his speech, and a Clocker, a Cuckoo Clock man that dispenses wise advice every fifteen minutes.

As Ruggedo is leaving the cave, Menankypoo is attacked by pirates. All the people are thrown into the sea. (They don't die, as Menankypoo is still part of fairyland.) Ruggedo and Clocker decide to enlist the pirates to help them conquer Oz. The pirates agree.

Meanwhile, King Ato, the king of the Octagon Isle, and Roger the Read Bird, receive two unexpected guests. The first is Captain Samuel Salt, who has been deserted by his pirate crew. Still, the appearance of his ship made all the other inhabitants of the Octagon Isle flee in a ship. The second guest is Peter, who got shipwrecked, and has found a flask marked simply "Do not open." Captain Salt decides to take Ato, Peter, and Roger as his new crew, and they set sail.

Along their journey, Captain Salt encounter strange and interesting islands. All of these are plenty of fun to read about, actually. Eventually, they add Pigasus, a winged pig, to the crew.

They arrive at Menankypoo, where they discover the Octagon Islanders arrived and joined the pirates, who are going to conquer Oz, as Clocker has devised a way to cross the desert. The flask accidentally opens, and it makes Captain Salt's ship fly. They use it to go to Oz, while Pigasus carries Peter to the Emerald City. They find Ruggedo has already captured the Magic Belt and is holding Ozma and her court at his mercy.

Pigasus and Peter go to attack Ruggedo, but he renders them motionless with a magic stick. The most good they do is Pigasus swallowing Clocker's cuckoo, rendering him unable to dispense advice.

Meanwhile, Roger theorizes that closing the flask will make the ship go back down, so they land in the Emerald City, and it is Captain Salt who grabs Ruggedo and Roger removes the Magic Belt and restores it to Ozma. She turns Ruggedo in a stone jug and restores everyone else, including the other pirates and the Octagon islanders, who he had turned into cobblestones.

The Octagon Islanders are all returned home, and all the pirates are turned into seagulls, Ozma explaining that this will allow them to enjoy the sea while being unable to harm anyone, and Clocker is rebuilt to have gentle intentions. Captain Salt is made Royal Discover and Explorer of Oz, who will claim new countries for Oz. Ato decides he will spend half his time serving as Captain Salt's cook. Meanwhile, Peter returns home.

Overall, Pirates in Oz is a fun story, introducing some lovable new characters. I actually found myself laughing aloud at Pigasus' introduction. Captain Salt is one of Thompson's better characters: he's a pirate who doesn't ruthlessly pillage, take prisoners, or even make people walk the plank. He's a good natured "bad guy."

My only concern is that now Thompson has had less harsh punishments for her villains, but now transforming them all seems a bit off for Ozma. Consider that Ozma spent her early years transformed. Furthermore, transformations do not reform character, and just dehumanizes the character, literally.

And we'll see a bit more of that...

Anyways, go ahead and give Pirates in Oz a read.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Peter vs. Speedy

Most of the young Americans who journeyed to Oz in L. Frank Baum's books were girls, with Button-Bright being the major exception. In Ruth Plumly Thompson's books, however, more American boys made their way into Oz. The first such was Bobbie Downs, renamed Bob Up by his companion Notta Bit More. He is a sad, solemn boy, raised in a Dickensian sort of orphanage that didn't even allow laughing. Like Notta, he's a bit over the top, so it's not too surprising that Thompson never used him in a major role after that. She does much better with her second American child character, Peter Brown. He appears in three of her books, and his last name actually isn't mentioned until the last of these. I've already said a bit about him in this post, but I really didn't go into much detail. I'm not sure we ever find out what happened to Peter's parents, but he lives with his grandfather in Philadelphia, Thompson's own hometown. He is an active, athletic kid, primarily interested in baseball, but also interested in other outdoor pursuits. He has been on camping trips, and knows how to milk a goat and prepare simple meals. Peter is quite concerned with how his peers view him, and has some typically masculine aspirations, being secretly excited at the prospect of being a Nome general and a pirate. While I'm not sure the jock stereotype existed in the twenties, and Peter doesn't come across as anti-intellectual (and he's read an Oz book before visiting the magical country), he still comes across as a little too typical-boyish for me to identify with him very much.

Right in the midst of the books with Peter as a protagonist comes another boy hero, known as Speedy. His real name is William, but his last name is never stated. He lives with his uncle, who appears to have been largely based on William J. Hammer, a friend of Thompson's father whom she called "Uncle Billy." In Speedy in Oz, it is revealed that Speedy's Uncle Billy's full name is William J. Harmstead, and that Speedy was named after him. Ruth Waara's Umbrella Island in Oz gives Speedy the last name Harmstead as well, while March Laumer calls him William Rapidan. Speedy's parents died while exploring the South Seas, so he is now in the custody of Uncle Billy, and dwelling in Garden City, Long Island. Like Peter, he is quite active, and in fact his nickname comes partially from his own skill at baseball. Uncle Billy is a scientist and inventor, however, and some of his intellectual interests seem to have rubbed off on his nephew. While Speedy finds paleontology a boring idea, he comes to temporarily serve as a wizard's assistant, a job that I'm not sure Peter would have wanted. When The Yellow Knight of Oz was up for discussion, J. L. Bell made another interesting observation, which is that Peter never really leaves his masculine comfort zone. His only female companion, aside from the Bananny Goat who is written out of the story rather quickly, is the somewhat tomboyish Scraps. Speedy, on the other hand, has female companions in both of his adventures, and he develops crushes on both of them. I suppose you could say Speedy is like Peter with stronger hormones, or something like that.

The fates of both boys remain up in the air, which I suppose is appropriate for Peter, who mentions more than once that he wants to be a pilot. This doesn't necessarily mean anything, though, as a lot of children have career aspirations that they don't actually see through when they grow up. As for Speedy, there's a strong hint at the end of his own book that he will eventually return to Umbrella Island and marry the princess, but there's no official confirmation that this ever came to pass. Assuming the two of them didn't relocate to Oz or elsewhere before the United States entered World War II, they're both of the right age to have served in the war. Speedy has its title character actually considering joining the Navy, but again, who knows whether this ever actually happened? I like to think that people who have visited Oz remain somehow connected to the land, so I doubt either character's fairyland adventures ended even if they did decide to remain in the Great Outside World and become adults.

So, since Thompson's American boy protagonists improved throughout her term as Royal Historian of Oz, does that hold true for the books she had published later? Unfortunately, not really. Tompy Terry from Yankee is a prodigy at both marching band AND sports, giving the impression of someone who is just too perfect. Enchanted Island's David Perry is pleasant enough, but we never really get that much of a sense of his character. He plays hockey and likes dogs better than cats, but those are minor details.

Friday, December 03, 2010

More Magic Sled!

If you haven't heard the latest podcast yet, I got some extra links!

David Maxine on the Hungry Tiger Press blog offers not only the complete text, but all the illustrations the story has ever had!

Here's my examination of the story from last year, when I went through all of the Santa Claus stories by the authors of the Famous Forty (and their adaptations).

The story "The Magic Sled" was selected very early on out of a small number of Oz-related Christmas short stories. Instead of sending out casting requests, Mike Conway was contacted to narrate again, and reprise the role of Santa Claus, the same task he'd had in last year's Christmas podcast.

I'd already thought of having one of my little brothers voice Bobby, and it happened to be my baby brother Daniel, who visited one day. His dialogue was recorded in less than ten minutes with only a couple re-takes.

I'd contacted Kim McFarland and another Oz author to voice Bobby's mother. Kim almost immediately recorded her lines and sent them to me. The other person was unsure of how to record, so when I informed them that Kim had already recorded, I graciously let them drop out.

The editing of the story was finished in a half hour, with my introduction and conclusion added, as well as a score behind it.

So, the podcast is up and ready for you to share this holiday season. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Good Knight, Everybody

Since I've been confirmed as a writer for this blog, I might as well write something, right? I've been making Oz posts on my LiveJournal and then my WordPress for some time now, and I feel like I'm running out of topics. Since Jared recently wrote about Yellow Knight, however, I feel it might not be a bad idea to revisit this post on Sir Hokus of Pokes that I made last year. I updated it a bit as well, and left out the parts on Ploppa. Let me know what you think of this idea.

Sir Hokus of Pokes is known by that name due to his spending several centuries imprisoned in the dull, sleepy city of Pokes. It's there that Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion find him during the events of The Royal Book of Oz, and help him to escape at long last. He's an impulsive old man, always wanting to go on a quest or slay a monster, and often looking at things through the lens of medieval romance. Sort of like Don Quixote, actually. Unlike seventeenth-century Spain, however, Oz actually has giants and dragons. They're just not quite what the good knight expects.

Sir Hokus is quickly accepted as part of Ozma's court, and makes at least token appearances in most of the first few Thompson Oz books. There are several references to his being seven centuries old, and strong hints that he originated in King Arthur's England. Arthur is generally thought to have lived in the sixth century or so if he existed at all, but this was some time prior to the era of knights in armor. Over the years, the Arthurian legend came to incorporate a lot of anachronistic material, and the castle with the Round Table and all that is probably much closer to the thirteenth century or so, which would make it about right for Hokus' seven centuries. It doesn't really matter in the end, however, as Yellow Knight reveals that the knight isn't from Merrie Olde England after all, but rather from a long-lost kingdom in the Winkie Country. The book confirms that Hokus is 700 years old, but the kingdoms of Corumbia and Corabia had only been enchanted for 500. The neighboring sultanate of Samandra is also said to have inhabitants who were up to seven centuries old, so some Oz scholars have taken this to mean that Ozites gained immortality sometime around the early thirteenth century. This doesn't really fit too well with other references throughout the series, however. Are we supposed to believe, for instance, that Nick Chopper's account of his life in Wizard, which includes his parents dying, spans 700 years? Also, would Prince Corum really have waited until he was 200 years old to leave his kingdom in search of a bride? Immortal or not, that's a little difficult to swallow. And why would Hokus not have remembered Oz and been surprised by the Cowardly Lion's talking when he was an Ozian native with a talking horse?

In addition to these questions, a lot of fans object to the ending of Yellow Knight because it essentially destroys the character of Sir Hokus. Is a handsome young knight in a familiar land anywhere near as interesting as a blustery old knight out of his element? Thompson obviously had fun writing Hokus, so why eliminate the character by giving him a happy ending? John R. Neill apparently felt the same way, because his books bring back the old Sir Hokus. Is this a continuity error? Well, not necessarily. Since Thompson seems to have thought of her books as occurring roughly one per year, that means about ten years passed in between Yellow Knight and Wonder City, which would be plenty of time for Corum to have aged back into his familiar appearance. Since aging is optional in Thompson's Oz, that would leave open the question as to why he wanted to, but maybe he didn't even think about it. After spending so many years as the aged knight, he might have naturally lapsed back into that role. And just because Neill's books never mention Marygolden doesn't mean she isn't still around. Interestingly, when Thompson returned to Oz with Yankee, she mentions Sir Hokus (not the Yellow Knight) as a resident of Ozma's palace. It looks like even she might have regretted changing him at the end of Yellow Knight.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Royal Podcast of Oz: The Magic Sled

For our Christmas episode, we present Jack Snow's short story The Magic Sled, a story about a little boy named Bobby who receives a sled for his birthday just before Christmas.

Narrated by Mike Conway, with the voice talents of Kim McFarland and Daniel Davis. Music by Kevin MacLeod.

As always, you can listen at the podcast site, or use the player below:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Yellow Knight of Oz

Thompson's 1930 book focuses on one of her first memorable characters: Sir Hokus of Pokes. Although he was mainly a supporting character, Sir Hokus was actually one of my favorites. A bluff, old-fashioned knight who would always try to be the hero? What's not to love? Of course he needs to be the focus.

Wait... It's not called Sir Hokus of Oz? Oh, it's The Yellow Knight of Oz. So, who's this yellow knight?

The book starts with Sir Hokus planning an adventure, but everyone in the Emerald City plans to go with him. Not wanting the company, he steals out alone. He travels through Marshland inhabited by giant turtles and frogs, and ruled by an ugly woman named Marcia. With the help of a giant turtle named Ploppa, he escapes.

Meanwhile, in the little kingdom of Samandra, the Sultan has had his Seer Chinda looking for the Comfortable Camel for ten years. In an argument, Chinda reveals he just discovered the Camel is in Ozma's court now. So, the Sultan sends Tuzzle the Grand Vizier to collect the Camel. Arriving at the Emerald City, Tuzzle does the smart thing: just asking for the Camel back! However, the Camel cannot be found. They send Tuzzle back, promising to send a message when the Camel returns. After he leaves, they go to check the Magic Picture, but it's gone. The Wizard says he has a magic searchlight that can find anything but decides against using it unless the Camel, Sir Hokus, and the Magic Picture don't turn up soon.

... Seriously? Yeah, Wiz, security must not be a big issue anymore.

Meanwhile, a young boy named Bill, but better known as Speedy, is testing his uncle Billy's rocket, which they plan to use to go to Mars.

Don't you love how little we knew of space exploration in 1930?

Anyways, it launches with Speedy alone and it crash lands in Subterranea, a country of quiet people under Oz. During a subter-rain, Speedy gets lost and finds a golden statue of a princess named Marygolden. It has fallen over, so Speedy starts to put it upright when it comes to life as a real flesh and blood princess. Using an umbrella, they escape Subterranea.

Meanwhile, Sir Hokus is joined by the Comfortable Camel and they eventually come across a deserted overgrown city. Finding a pack of dates in the Camel's saddle bag, Hokus eats one and tosses it away, but it hits a vine and transforms it into a Jester named Peter Pun. As the three journey on, the Comfortable Camel is captured by Chinda.

In Samandra, the Camel cannot talk anymore, but the Sultan is outraged that the Camel has lost his saddle bags.

Thompson returns to Speedy and Marygolden, who find themselves in Quick City, where Speedy is made King of the Quix. These people, as they wear special hats, age rapidly and then repeat their aging in just a few moments. It's actually one of Thompson's more amusing side-creations.

Escaping Quick City, Speedy and Marygolden arrive in a forest, where Speedy turns a horse chestnut into a chestnut horse named Stampedro, who says he belongs to the Yellow Knight. They soon are joined by Sir Hokus and Peter Pun, who go to Samandra to retrieve the Comfortable Camel. This they manage to do, but Hokus is separated from the rest, and they take the Sultan's dog Confido.

Confido, now being able to talk, is bribed into spilling all of the Sultan's secrets. He transformed the countries of Corumbia and Corabia, and Confido knows how to undo the enchantment, using date seeds that grow from a magic tree he instructs them to grow. He gives them the instructions, and the kingdoms are shortly restored. However, Stampedro demands the Yellow Knight be restored. But the Yellow Knight cannot be disenchanted until exactly ten in the morning. The Queen of Corumbia must eat the smallest date on the tree, and fling it from the tallest tower in the castle.

When this is done, the date seed strikes Sir Hokus, who turns into Prince Corum, the Yellow Knight. Backtracking, Thompson reveals the knight who Hokus fought and sent to Pokes all those years ago was really the Sultan of Samandra.

The Sultan is captured, and with a quick arrival by Ozma, the Wizard, and Dorothy. They see to the Sultan's punishment (return his stolen goods, all magic tools confiscated, and restricted to Samandra) and see Corum married to Marygolden, who was his bethrothed. (Before you ask, Thompson mentions that Sir Hokus hid the Magic Picture so the people in the Emerald City wouldn't come after him, but the Wizard found it.) The Camel stays with Corum, while Speedy returns home to Uncle Billy.

The Yellow Knight of Oz feels like it could have been more than what it was. Sadly, most of the story is about disenchanting things, which isn't too exciting. Yes, Ozma of Oz also had dispelling enchantments as a major plot point, but it felt more exciting there because there was also a large chance of danger for our heroes.

And Thompson winds up making one of her best characters into a character that isn't so interesting. And here, he drops out of Thompson's books. We never get to see what kind of character Prince Corum is, whether he became a completely different person, or if Sir Hokus was a part of his character exemplified. And the final problem is that if Thompson was going to do this, why place it ten years later? Ah, well.

The redeeming factor of Yellow Knight is Speedy, another adventurous child character to move the plot along, and guess what? He'll be back later!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Royal Podcast of Oz: A Chat With Miriam

I chat with Oz fan Miriam Goldman, an Oz fan with some interesting and unique views on Oz books, movies, events, plays, and even video games! Warning, this is a little long...

As always, you can listen or download at the podcast site or use the player below:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Selig's Silent Oz Musical Anniversary

In 1910, the first of 4 Selig Baum short films was released: "the Wonderful Wizard of Oz" on March 24 or 26.

Even though it's late, I - Sam Milazzo - have made an Anniversary Tribute to this black-and-white 1 reel/1000 ft short film with music graciously permitted by Joe Cascone.

I have sharpened and brightened the actual video, as well as fixed up a few frames that were 'out of order'. Any more info can be seen in the description.

The Selig Baum films that followed were "Dorothy and the Scarecrow in Oz" (April 19), "the Land of Oz" (May 19) and "John Dough and the Cherub" (December 19). It would be truly wonderful if the other films were found and released, along with a restoration, together with "the Wonderful Wizard of Oz".

The video can be seen here on YouTube.

The short film can be purchased on DVDs "the Wizard of Oz: 3-disk Collectors' Edition" (2005), "the Wizard of Oz: 70th Anniversary 4-disk Ultimate Collectors' Edition" (2009), the "More Treasures from American Film Archives 1894-1931" and maybe a few others.

You can buy Joe Cascone's new CD here!

Thanks go to Joe Cascone for graciously letting me use his music, and Thanks to Blair Frodelius for helping me with the dates for these films' releases.

Happy One Hundredth Anniversary, Selig Polyscope Co's "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and others!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New writer for the blog!

We're expanding our staff here at the Royal Blog of Oz! I invited Nathan DeHoff, an already established Oz blogger who has posted Oz entries to his blogs at LiveJournal and WordPress.

Nathan lives in New Jersey, and has written a number of Oz stories that he put online. He's also appeared in two of our podcasts. So, join us in welcoming him to the team.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

I'll be right back!

Last Sunday, my motherboard on my computer went screwy and wouldn't use my peripherals, including the monitor, mouse, and keyboard. I've ordered a replacement, but it only just shipped today. Right now, I'm using my sister's computer, trying to be respectful of their property.

As just about all of my Oz projects were on my computer, I'm officially taking a break from them. Which is nuts because I've got a backlog of Thompson books to blog about! Right now, I have all of her Famous Forty books, except Ozoplaning and Captain Salt. Actually, I ordered a copy of Captain Salt, but even though the seller was based in America, they'd only ship to the UK, forcing me to get help from a UK friend! (Got a few of them...) They told me they haven't received it yet.

Right now, I'm only lacking Neill's books from the Famous Forty. I'd also like to get A Runaway in Oz, Thompson's Enchanted Island, and Cheerful Citizens.

Podcasts are in the same boat. I'm arranging an interview later this month, as those are easier to edit. Sam and I recorded a couple podcasts, but these will take longer to edit, so they should be out in January and February. Which is a good thing, as I plan to be moving during that time and would have even less time for editing then...

SO, until I get that motherboard in the mail, and even more importantly, get it installed, I bid you adieu for now, and maybe Sam will blog once or twice while I'm gone.

... Actually, something I thought about... Would it be more interesting to have multiple writers writing Oz blog entries on one blog so you'd get a nice variety of topics? Or would it be confusing as each writer would need to specify in each entry who they are because they'd have conflicting opinions? (Believe me, Sam and I don't see eye to eye on everything!)

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Okay, I'm going to take a whack at answering some questions about rather dark subjects in the Oz books.
  1. How did the Wicked Witch of the West melt?
    In Michael Patrick Hearn's The Annotated Wizard of Oz, he quotes an article in the Baum Bugle by Dr. Douglas A. Rossman. This mentions hydrolysis, "a chemical process in which a certain molecule is split into two parts by the addition of a molecule of water." Baum mentions the Wicked Witch of the East, who crumbles into dust, "was so old... that she dried up quickly in the sun." The Wicked Witch of the West doesn't bleed when Toto bites her, explaining "she was so wicked that the blood in her had dried up many years before."

    From this, it is easily assumed that the Wicked Witches were not immortal by nature. They have enchanted themselves to keep themselves from crumbling into dust. When the Wicked Witch of the East is struck by Dorothy's house, the force is too great for even her magic, and she is rendered unconscious, if not dead, by the weight of the house. Her enchantment wears off, letting her body crumble into dust.

    Similarly, the Wicked Witch of the West's body cannot stand certain forces. Thus, when water strikes her, her molecules are split by the addition of water, or, if you prefer, her body absorbs the water, turning her into a liquid, like how flour can become paste by the addition of water. Dorothy further liquidates this goo in the book by throwing another bucket of water on her.
  2. Do people die in Oz?
    Baum maintained that people and animals could not die under normal circumstances, but they could be "destroyed." I'd assume that if someone was cremated in Oz, they would be considered "destroyed." Thompson refers to people being "utterly destroyed" by magic. I'd assume this would mean being removed from existence, but in all cases where a villain threatens this, it is never carried out. However, it has happened in the past, though this could easily have been another transformation.

    In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, we have some conflicting reports. The Kalidahs that fall into a gulf, we are told, "were dashed to pieces on the sharp rocks at the bottom." Not quite killed, as a Kalidah in The Magic of Oz survives being impaled and goes to be magically mended by the Kalidah King.

    We are told definitely that the Wicked Witch of the West's crows, wolves, bees, as well as the giant spider died. It would appear death was in Oz, and somehow, death stopped after Ozma took the throne. Edward Einhorn's excellent Paradox in Oz explains this with a delicious time travel twist. (Assuming no death is a side effect of the anti-aging enchantment.) That book also explains the conflicting report in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, how Nick Chopper managed to stay alive, imparting his life and consciousness into his new tin body.

    I assume there are other fan theories aside from Paradox in Oz detailing how death was removed yet Nick Chopper survived dismemberment before that. One I had was that he had fairy blood in his family.

Okay, and if you have any other questions, post them in the comments, and if I can come up with an answer, I'll edit it in.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz

Well, isn't this an appropriate time of year to write this one?

In a change of pace for Thompson, we open in Philadelphia with Peter from The Gnome King of Oz. He and his grandfather put the gold Peter got in that story to use, putting one bag in the bank for Peter's college fund, and the other bag they basically blew. (All on fun stuff, but still...) Peter kept the sacks, though, and he finds a small leftover gold piece. He toys with it and wishes he was back in Oz and then he finds himself just outside Jack Pumpkinhead's home.

Jack greets him and theorizes that the coin was a "piece of change." They decide to head to the Emerald City, but Jack takes the wrong road.

Thompson really gets on a roll with new places to explore here: they visit Chimneyville, home of the Chimney-villains, who are living beings of smoke; a Goody Shop that sells only Good things, but not exactly what they want; and they even come across a live Christmas Tree that is ready to snatch what it can for ornaments. However, when they refuse to give things to it, it throws ornaments, including a silver bell inscribed "The Red Djinn's dinner bell," which when rung summons a black servant boy who gives Peter a dinner.

Then we head over to Scare City, where King Harum Scarum finds Jack and Peter un-scare-able. Using the dinner bell, Peter defends himself by throwing dishes at Harum. Finally, their luck runs out, and Harum is about to attack, when the pirate sack Peter's been carrying from home sucks up Harum, and all the other Scares in the city, except a griffin called Snif, who has lost his growl—his "gr—rr"—and now calls himself an Iffin and often speaks in rhyme. He offers to fly them to the Emerald City.

The trio takes a break in the Land of Barons, where they meet Baron Belfaygor, who has a constantly growing beard that has led him to a life of seclusion, while the cruel Baron Mogodore has kidnapped his love Shirley Sunshine to force her to marry him. The quartet decides to rescue her, but before they can get to Mogodore's castle, Snif eats some shrinking violets and shrinks. But, a clever plan from Snif helps them reach the castle.

For a bit, we follow Mogodore and Shirley Sunshine, who doesn't think much of the cruel Baron. She unwittingly convinces him to conquer Ozma and the Emerald City. We also learn of the Forbidden Flagon. If it is opened, a dreadful disaster will befall Mogodore's city of Baffleburg. Mogodore is curious as to what exactly would happen.

Peter and his friends arrive and pretending to be powerful magicians, make their way to Mogodore, who sees through their bluff and has them thrown into a dungeon, the sack falling to the ground.

Peter and Snif escape when the effect of the shrinking violets wears off, making Snif burst through the bars of the cell. They quickly free the others, find the sack, and, having heard about the Forbidden Flagon, take that as well.

After a misadventure in Swing City, a city of acrobats, they find Mogodore on the march to the Emerald City. They attempt to swoop down and have him swallowed by the sack, only to have Snif, Peter, and Belfayor swallowed instead, leaving Jack with a broken leg, the Flagon, the sack, and the dinner bell. Having an idea, Jack rings the bell and grabs the black boy who appears, disappearing with him into the castle of the Red Jinn. (The spelling mysteriously changes in the book.)

Jack finds himself in the palace of the Red Jinn, a portly fellow who wears a red glass jar. He gives Jack some advice before Jack mysteriously vanishes.

It so happens that Mogodore arrives in the Emerald City as Ozma and her court is playing Blind Man's Bluff. Mogodore sees that Ozma is prettier than Shirley Sunshine and decides to marry Ozma instead. As a banquet for Mogodore ensues, Mogodore uses the Magic Belt to bring the Flagon. Jack appears, removes his head, and hurls the Flagon at Mogodore.

Mogodore and the people of Baffleburg are restore to their original forms: tiny people only a few inches high. Mogodore's ancestors had done a sorcerer a favor, and he returned it by making them normal sized people, the enchantment maintained as long as the Flagon was intact. Ozma returns the Baffleburgians to the now reduced city of Baffleburg.

The people captured by the sack are restored simply by holding it upside down and shaking it, so even the people of Scare City are restored and head home. Peter, Snif, and Belfayor emerge. Snif has found his growl again, so he is a Griffin again. Belfayor's beard is permanently gone, and he marries Shirley Sunshine. Peter goes home.

Altogether, I was impressed by Thompson's story. I thought her characterization for Jack was a little off, but she explained it was because of Jack's changing heads also making variations in his character. Unlike some of her other books, a linear plot was maintained, stepping away only to introduce situations when they were coming into the story.

Even better, at the end, no one is left unjustly punished or enchanted or transformed in a disturbing way.

So, Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, well done, Thompson!

But who was that Red Jinn guy? Will we ever find out exactly where Jack went off to? Or is this going to be left unanswered?

Friday, October 29, 2010

The HorrOz Return . . . !

This is Sam Milazzo of Australia.

Back in 2009, I made and uploaded my first Halloween Oz video to Youtube:

Now, in 2010, it has spawned . . . . a SEQUEL. Duh-duh-duuuuuuuuuuuuuhh!!

Yes, it's too early to be posting, but Jared suggested I do so. And I agree, it will allow Youtubers to see it with plenty of time and more comments to come in on the day.

Still, even though it's early, Happy Halloween for 2010!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Penhale Broadcast

The fourth story in Dark Music is less macabre and more mysterious.

In the Penhale cemetery, the voice of late opera soloist Sonya Parrish has been heard singing. This happens regularly, so the WXAT radio station devises an immense broadcast experiment: someone will sit out in the graveyard with a microphone, and the ghostly singing will be broadcast throughout the world.

The man selected is Adrian Ramsey. At midnight on broadcast night, Adrian is in the graveyard alone with only a microphone. After a long introduction, the ghostly singing is heard, filling the entire world with wonder.

Adrian continutes the broadcast.
"Sonya Parrish has sung," a slight tremble in his voice betrayed his emotion. "Sonya Parrish has sung for the greatest audience ever assembled. As I look about me, I bow my head with humility. Never was a mortal man favored with such a sight. I see the world's immortals gathered in this little graveyard to pay homage to the divine artistry of Sonya Parrish. There—not twenty oaces from me—stands great Caesar with his Roman court. And there—resplendent in the many-colored robes of the Orient—Marco Polo, the dreamer and adventurer. And there—kindly-visaged Shakespeare, mightiest of all the men of letters. His keen eyes gleam with heart-felt appreciation of the artistry he has just witnessed. And there is another divine woman, whose memory the world cherishes—the great Bernhardt, more magnetic and lovely than words can tell. Her eyes are moist with tears, a beautiful tribute to Sonya Parrish's art."

This confounds the listeners, but then Sonya's ghost performs an encore. Adrian concludes:
"Sonya Parrish has sung again," came the voice from the loudspeaker. "She will sing no more tonight. For those who have assembled here she has displayed the magic of her great art. I bow my head in the glory of the moment in which I am permitted to speak. Such glory has never before come to a man. I am humble before the multitude that is Sonya Parrish's audience." Ramsey pause, then continued in a voice that was curiously subdued. "And reverently, worshipfully I speak of One who has lately joined the multitude. For Him the great ones made way as for a King. He is garbed simply in a white robe that falls from His shoulders. A circlet of thorns crowns His head. His eyes are kind and gentle and more wise than—"

Adrian cuts out. Everyone is glad of the success, and the technicians just outside the graveyard go to collect Adrian. They cannot see him until they are at his microphone. At the base, Adrian lies dead.
In his eyes shone the light of a greater glory than any living man had ever before looked upon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Anchor

The third story in Dark Music returns to Snow's more macabre and weird side, but we begin to see some themes Snow revisits.

A young man named Ailil loves boating on the lake at night, surrounded by nature and peace. One night, though, he sees a girl in cabin at the side of the lake, so lovely, that she seems to be a human version of everything he loves about the lake. They spend a night together, but the next morning, she is gone, and Ailil feels an urging to leave the lake. He begins pulling up the anchor to his boat.
And then Ailil saw that which sent him forever from the lake, never to return. Caught on a fork of the anchor was a human skeleton, dripping with mud and ooze, and long divested of the clothing of flesh which Ailil knew in a terrible moment had once been white, and tinged with the pallor of finely chiseled ivory.

Monday, October 18, 2010


The second story in Snow's Dark Music is not quite a horror story.

Very much, a Queen is getting ready to celebrate her diamond jubilee, but through the pomp and everything, a strange little girl catches her eye. Oddly enough, the girl follows her around. The Queen is perplexed as to why the child is unattended, but makes up her mind that she will be friendly to the girl, should she ever come in direct contact with her.

As the Queen goes to her bedroom to rest for the evening ceremonies, she sees the girl run into the bedroom. Intending to let the girl have a pleasant time before sending her home, she says not a word. As the doors close, one of the maids in waiting hears pleasant, rippling laughter.

As the evening festivities begin, the queen does not emerge from her room.
... the Queen's ladies in waiting opened the door of the chamber, and entered. They walked a few steps into the room, and then stood frozen. The Queen sat in a great chair by a window. She was very quiet. A smile lay on her lips. She was not sleeping. She was dead. The afternoon sunlight fell in a slanting ray across the room to a wall opposite where it bathed with a golden flood of luminance the portrait of a little girl with a halo of aureate hair—a tiny little sprite of a girl, whose youth and vivacity the artist had caught so successfully that the little figure seemed about to go dancing and skipping out of the frame. It was a picture of the Queen painted a few weeks after her coronation when she was a child 5 years old.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dark Music

In my last blog, I mentioned Jack Snow had written horror stories. He sent these to magazines and some saw publication. He even got a book of these stories published, entitled Dark Music And Other Spectral Tales. One of Hungry Tiger Press' first books was a paperback entitled Spectral Snow: The Dark Fantasies of Jack Snow, which contained some stories from Dark Music, as well as a story not in that collection and Snow's "A Murder in Oz."

I have both of these books, and have decided to review each story in October.

"Dark Music" is a story told from the perspective of a man who has bought a parcel of land in the country to vacation in. After spending some time there, he comes across an old hermit who is living on his land. The hermit tells him to leave, but our narrator is indignant, it is legally his land.

After a few more run-ins, our narrator and the hermit decide to peacefully co-exist, as they are not really interfering with each other. The hermit, named Aaron, becomes fond of our narrator and decides to show him something he's been working on. At night, Aaron brings out a cage of bats, and to our narrator's surprise, they make music, Aaron explaining that he has attached tiny pipes to their wings, making notes when they flap their wings. Even more, he has these bats trained to make music. Our narrator is amazed at this, but Aaron assures him the real surprise is still in store.

One night, Aaron shows our narrator the full scope of what he's been doing. He has a whole swarm of bats with these attachments, trained. Aaron plays a chilling symphony for our narrator, an experience which leaves him unable to enjoy music again, as the sounds are so gruesome he can no longer bear it.

The next morning, our narrator decides to go home, but when he goes to say good-bye to Aaron, he discovers the bats turned on him and ate him alive. Disgusted at this, he sets Aaron's cave on fire, also, presumably, killing all the bats. One bat falls out, and he stamps its head with his foot. As he examines it, he discovers there are no pipes on the wings.
I was standing with the the bat in my hand, so that the golden-green luminance of the glen shone full upon it. I looked more closely at the creature's face. Clots of half-dried blood were darkly smeared about its mouth and nostrils—human blood—Old Aaron's blood. I felt faintly ill. Suddenly, the bat's mouth gaped open. It was not dead, as I had supposed.

And then occurred the final horror, the ultimate loathsomeness. As the bat's mouth gaped wide, I couldn't escape seeing that deep in its mouth, protruding from its throat—inserted there with what must have been astounding skill so that it formed an integral part of the bat's breathing apparatus—was one of Old Aaron's tiny pipes.

While my skin crawled, the bat breathed its death gasp. From the little pipe there burst an obscene bleat of sound that was an echo of the demoniac symphony that had shrieked through the glen the night before.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

RATS! And Other Frustrations

Good Oz authors also prove to be prolific authors. L. Frank Baum also wrote mysteries and adventure thrillers, Jack Snow wrote horror stories, Eloise Jarvis McGraw wrote a variety of books, three of them winning Newbery Honors. Even more recent Oz authors get outside of Oz, like Eric Shanower's comic series Age of Bronze. No exception is Marcus Mebes, who recently released a collection entitled RATS! And Other Frustrations, containing revised and rewritten stories and poems he came up with in high school and college.

The book contains three short stories and two poems. The poems are written very well, but you can't really review poetry in depth.

The first story "RATS!" peeks in at the life of four people living in their mundane existences. However, when each of their lives seem to be taking a fatal turn, they find themselves in a gigantic maze with no idea who each other are or what they are doing there.

The next (and shortest) story in the book is "Luna Moths" must really be read, so all I'll say is it is about a woman who climbs a mountain to see something no one else can.

Finally, there is "Be A Wolf." And if you think that sounds like Beowulf, it is based on that story, but now presented as historical fiction, applied to the colonization of what becomes Shreveport, Louisiana, where the author lives. The analogy works brilliantly as told by a Civil War soldier and a Caddo Indian.

I found these stories to be well-written and very enjoyable, and I am trying to not be biased as Marcus is a friend of mine. Each scene in the stories is vividly described and very easy to imagine, aided by amazing illustrations by Alejandro Garcia.

I always seem to enjoy non-Oz work by Oz authors, and this is no exception. I recommend it, but be warned that these are not stories for children, and Marcus briefly uses some language that would be inappropriate for them.

You can get the book here in paperback or a download.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Shipwrecked in Oz

Once you get an Oz fan writing, they don't really stop, and Marcus Mebes is no exception. And no, he didn't stick to 50-page books.

At hand, I have Shipwrecked of Oz, a delightful tale of how Jinnicky the Red Jinn of Ev decides to take a cruise. However, his yacht is wrecked in a storm, and he sinks to the bottom of the ocean in his jar, which he makes water-tight. The crew is rescued by Captain Salt in The Crescent Moon, which has been joined by Trot & Cap'n Bill. However, when a rescue mission is thwarted by an eel man and his eels who have been disrupting the peace of the nearby merfolk, it turns out rescuing Jinnicky is just the beginning of their troubles.

While Shipwrecked maintains the fresh writing approach evident in The Bashful Baker of Oz, Marcus properly makes use of the classic characters, thus giving the story a classic feel. And it's an exciting story, too! It was one where I wanted to get back to the story and finish it when I was forced to take a break.

So, yes, definitely a recommended Oz book!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Bashful Baker of Oz

Marcus Mébes should be a familiar name to Oz fans, and if he isn't, then they're obviously not living right. He was the production designer for just about all of the International Wizard of Oz Club's publications for awhile, and still works with them.

He's also written a few Oz stories of his own. One of them is The Bashful Baker of Oz, originally a short story in Oziana, now a 50-page Oz book of its own.

The story peeks into the life of Maria, a young baker who lives in Crafton, a place where everyone uses their talents for the community. Maria's is baking. As the title suggests, she's a shy girl.

However, she has a friend in Lord Luka, a friend of Ozma's. He encourages her to go to the Emerald City and leave Crafton behind. Finally, one day, feeling that she is being overlooked in favor of her talents, Maria goes to the Emerald City. But will she find everything exactly as Luka promised her?

Marcus mainly deals with his own new characters, but when a classic Oz character appears, they match the pre-established characterizations. Marcus writes with a style that is upbeat and lively. This brings a welcome volt of energy to Oz.

I only have two complaints about The Bashful Baker of Oz. For some reason, the third and fourth chapters have the same title. Not sure if that was a typo or anything. The other is that the story ends on page 50. It's a bit short, especially carrying a book on its own.

But anyways, I'd recommend it for anyone who just wants to read a good Oz story.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Moorchild

Okay, I got to read this book by Eloise Jarvis McGraw recently and decided to blog about it here. Most of my readers are likely aware that Eloise was a prolific author, and among her many books were three Oz books, one of them being Merry-Go-Round in Oz, the last book of the Famous Forty. (Her daughter Lauren had some input on her Oz books, and her mother gave her co-author credit.)

So, yes, that does mean I'll blog about books by Oz authors. (I may not be limiting it to Famous Forty authors, either...)

The story isn't too specific about exactly where it takes place. I read that it is supposed to be medieval England, but for all I was concerned, it could have been there, Ireland, or even a nonexistent land.

Old Bess, an herbalist, sees that something is not right about her new grandchild Saaski. She realizes it must be a changeling: a fairy or goblin in human form replacing a kidnapped baby.

The truth is, she is correct, but what the truth is, even she could not have guessed. Saaski is actually Moql, formerly a member of "the Folk," a fairy race that lives on the Moor. She is actually half Folk, and half human, and when she fails to hide from a human, the prince makes her a changeling, making her live with humans.

Saaski, however, only has extremely vague memories of her life with the Folk and is sure she must be human. However, everyone notices she is odd. There are some who accept her, like Yanno and Anwara, her "parents," and even old Bess and the shepherd boy Tam. But most of the town is suspicious, and soon begin to fear her, some even harshly evading her. Saaski just wants to be accepted.

Overall, the book was very enjoyable. I thought the take was very unique, and a little comparable to how Baum reinvented the story of "The Gingerbread Man" as John Dough & the Cherub. Most Changeling Child stories end with the parents or a suspicious adult avoiding their child from being taken, or rescuing their child. The Moorchild tells the story mostly from the Changeling's point of view, with the original twist that the replacement is initially unaware it isn't human.

There are a few ideals from Baum in the story, such as when Bess confronts Yanno and Anwara about Saaski's true identity, they decide against trying to kill or harm her to get their child back, for even if it was a Changeling, it would not be right to treat a living creature in such a way. This echoes Ozma's refusal to fight in The Emerald City of Oz.

The writing is very well done, engaging and easy to read. Some less experienced readers might be put off by the lack of a definite location and the odd colloquialisms of the characters. But seasoned readers should find this book a delight.

How does the story end? Does Saaski become Moql again? Is Yanno and Anwara's child that was taken at birth restored to them? Does the town learn to accept Saaski? I'm not saying. Go read The Moorchild yourself!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Giant Horse of Oz

As I come to the end of my first batch of Thompson books (more on the way, don't worry!), I end with her book for 1928, The Giant Horse of Oz.

We open in the Ozure Islands, which have been held in the thrall of the beast Quiberon for many years.

And something gets me about this: Quiberon was summoned by Mombi to keep the people of the Ozure Islands in the lake. Here's what I don't understand: why Mombi? The Ozure Islands are in the Munchkin Country, while Mombi was in the North. She'd be messing around in another witch's territory then! And another thing is why must this be because of a witch?

Anyways, Quiberon demands a mortal girl to serve him next, as the last citizen of the Ozure Islands to wait upon him told him about Dorothy, Betsy Bobbin and Trot. If his demand is not met, in three days, he will destroy the city.

It really doesn't make sense that this girl knows about Dorothy and her American friends. Apparently, Quiberon was there before Dorothy showed up in Oz, and the girl says that she knows about them from an old book she has.

King Cheeriobed does not think they could get to the Emerald City in time and says the one person who could help them would be the Good Witch of the North.

... Say what? Not Ozma, the Wizard, or Glinda, but a character who had less appearances in Baum's stories than the Queen of the Field Mice?

It's decided Prince Philador will go to seek the Good Witch of the North, because that's standard for Thompson now. A giant sea gull carries Philador away from the Ozure Isles, never mind why a sea gull is by a lake in a landlocked country.

Soothsayer Akbad (wait, did Thompson just put the word "bad" into this guy's name?) picks the golden pear that was supposed to be for only Philador to use. This gives him golden wings that carry him to the Emerald City.

Then we head over to Boston, where a statue of a famous public benefactor comes to life by a passerby finding some magic words and reading them. That... is actually one of the more Baumian touches I've seen. Anyways, Benny falls to Oz through a hole in the ground. (Thus supporting a theory a friend had that Oz is a "Hollow Earth" country, though Dorothy & The Wizard in Oz and Baum's map seem to indicate otherwise.) There, he meets the Scarecrow and wishes to be a real person. The Scarecrow suggests he tries acting like a real person and nicknames him Benny.

Benny sees what appears to be a big bird and runs away from it, carrying the Scarecrow with him. The "big bird" turns out to be Akbad. Benny stops when he sees Trot, and so does Akbad! Realizing who Trot is (how???), Akbad grabs her. The Scarerow and Benny try to rescue her, so Akbad ends up depositing them all in Quiberon's cave, and then Akbad just gets a bad rap and sulks around for most of the story, with two heavy flightless wings on his back. (There is an exception, but I won't mention it just now.)

I don't get why Akbad got it so harsh. Frankly, Cheeriobed decides that if Philador survives, then they can all die. So, he's putting one life before the life of the entire kingdom? I can't really blame Akbad here. Sure, kidnapping is bad, but still, I thought his motive wasn't bad at all. At the end, he repents and the wings are removed. Still, Thompson really wants to put him in a bad light. He's the only person in the Ozure Isles that did anything that made sense!

In Quiberon's cave, the trio manages to find a tunnel that leads them to a series of caves, and Quiberon can't follow them there.

Meanwhile, we see what the Good Witch of the North is doing. Oh, and Thompson named her Tattypoo. I don't even want to try etymology on that name. She lives in a little cottage with a dragon named Agnes. Agnes asks her if there was ever a time she was "young and pretty."

... Because, apparently, with Thompson, you cannot be old and pretty.

So, Tattypoo thinks about her past, remembers something, and jumps through "the Witch Window." Agnes follows her, leaving the place empty just as Philador arrives.

Being told by Tattypoo's magic slate (remember that? Nice!) that Tattypoo is gone for good (Hooray! Now no character will have to have that name!) and that he should go to the Emerald City so Ozma can help him. He helps himself to some food and magical supplies, but accidentally knocks a bottle off a shelf. The liquid in the bottle begins forming into a man with a medicine chest as his chest.

The man introduces himself as Dr. Herby, who was thrown into a cough syrup he was boiling by ... guess who? Mombi. (Well, at least this one was in her own country!) He melted into it, got poured into a bottle, and was apparently confiscated by Tattypoo, who never suspected that it contained an enchanted person.

Philador and Herby head out and use the magic tools and Herby's medicines to get past obstacles, until they meet Joe King. (Okay, Thompson, you have to be joking with these punny names!) He lets them use his horse High Boy to get them to the Emerald City. High Boy is twice as large as a normal horse and has telescoping legs.

Meanwhile, the Scarecrow, Benny, and Trot (what is Trot doing without Cap'n Bill?) escape Cave Town by an explosion that frees them from Shadow People who were about to make them shadows like them. This opens up the cavern they were trapped in, supposedly freeing Quiberon, who is waiting out the three days. After getting caught with the Round-abouties, they meet Philador, Herby, and High Boy, who offer them to join. They hurry to the Emerald City, helped in part by Herby's medicines.

Which points to a concern some readers have that I think is valid: Herby's medicines are comparable to amphetamines and are taken by all members of the group who can swallow, including the children, quite liberally.

After getting through Shutterville, High Boy's group hurries to the Emerald City.

Meanwhile, in the Ozure Isles, Orpah, a merman who cared for the Sea Horses that Quiberon ate (and helped Trot, the Scarecrow, and Benny in the caverns) returns and they are surprised when Queen Orin of the Ozure Isles arrives to stand by her husband on the day of its destruction. Quiberon tries to attack Orin, but Akbad saves her, the one other thing he got to do in the story.

In the Emerald City, Ozma and the Wizard hurry to the Ozure Isles to help Cheeriobed, and manage to turn Quiberon into a statue. The Wizard restores the Sea Horses from their skeletons, and Orin reveals that she is Tattypoo. Mombi, when snubbed by Cheeriobed for choosing Orin over her, kidnapped Orin and transformed her into what she intended to be a Wicked Witch, but Orin's goodness made her a good witch that conquered Mombi. Agnes was also Orin's maid and has also been restored.

Now, while some readers dislike the fact that Thompson did away with one of Baum's characters, my problem is she failed to make Orin an interesting enough character to validate getting rid of one of Baum's good witches. We are told how Orin got to the Ozure Isles after she was restored by the Witch Window, but it would have been more satisfying to follow her adventure.

Still, some fans protest that Orin was not really THE Good Witch of the North, and some stories have been written to have both her and the Good Witch of the North co-exist. (Some call her "Locosta," the prettier name that appeared in "The Wizard of Oz" musical in 1902.)

Furthermore, why is almost every other character in Thompson's Oz a prince or princess of some sort? I'm missing Baum's Oz where people were content to be ordinary hard-working citizens!

At the end, Ozma decides to make Cheeriobed and Orin the rulers of the Munchkin Country and Joe King and his queen Hyacinth the rulers of the Gillikin Country.

Joe King might make a nice ruler for the Gillikins, but I wish Thompson had had him in a story where he played a larger role first. And Cheeriobed I wouldn't put in charge of the Munchkin Country at all! He was going to let his kingdom die as long as his son survived! Yes, first love for children, but still, what a pushover!

Oh, and Benny decides he doesn't want to be human. Living in Oz is enough life for him, so he resigns himself to it.

Over all, The Giant Horse of Oz isn't bad. It just left me confused a bit. There were parts that didn't make sense, underdeveloped secondary characters are given big responsibilities, and unnecessary transformations happen. And why so much blame on Mombi? She was already executed, so why not let her rest in peace?

Hey, Herby, you got any pills to keep me smiling?