Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Mysterious Chronicles of Oz

I recently got a copy of this little Oz book. I don't know much about the author, James E. Nitch, who wrote under the pen name Onyx Madden, so, really, I'll just do a straightforward review this time around.

Ozma decides she wants one last adventure before settling down as ruler of Oz, so she sets off with the Sawhorse in the clothes she wore as Tip to have an adventure in the Quadling Country. While there, she runs into a sky blue dragon named Quox.

The story is set after The Marvelous Land of Oz and manages to serve as a bit of a prequel to Ozma of Oz.

While the writing is good and the concept is nice, I found a major flaw: there is far too much exposition. Entire chapters are spent on Nitch's concepts for Oz, including an origin of the Nome King, who doesn't even appear in the story. An entire chapter is spent explaining a vendetta Quox has, which is resolved in a few paragraphs. Near the end, Glinda remembers Ozma's restoration by Mombi, which is then retold by Nitch in his own style. I confess to peeking at the end and thought that perhaps Tip's clothes had gradually changed Ozma back into a boy, especially when Glinda advises her to burn the clothes and never wear such things again. Since that wasn't the case, it was a little disappointing. To be honest, Ozma's trip isn't really an adventure at all, just a travelogue, explaining how Ozma obtained the Red Wagon and Magic Picture.

Would I recommend this book? It's worth a read to see how a fan might develop their personal version of Oz. But the real big feature of the book is the artwork by J. Noel. It is especially Neill-influenced and is excellent line art. Also, there are color plates that are actually mounted on pages. If the book is a travelogue, it's a pretty one!

Oh, and Ray Bolger (an old Scarecrow of Oz, he calls himself) wrote an introduction.

So, while the story isn't one of the most impressive non-Famous Forty + stories out there, I'd suggest picking it up.


Nathan said...

It's not only that there's a lot of exposition, but that Nitch keeps getting into this weird, pretentious style when he goes off on tangents. There are parts to this I quite like, including the explanation of why the Hammer-Heads are so protective of their territory, but Nitch really could have used a good editor.

Anonymous said...

There also a steal from one of the HOBBIT riddles, if I recall correctly.

Nathan said...

Yes, Ozma poses the same riddle to Quox that Bilbo Baggins did to Gollum (or perhaps it was the other way 'round).

saintfighteraqua said...

I really enjoyed this book, I actually received one that was signed.
But I agree with what you said, the author comes across as very pretentious and it seems too much like he's trying to force a view point.
Little flaws hurt it for me too, like the claim that Glinda chased Mombi into the sands of Mudge...I'm pretty sure Glinda chased Mombi west when they left the E.City in Land.
Also he refers to the Jinjin as the Djinn. Not a big problem though.
I think the Sawhorse was for once my favorite character, his attitude was very much the one he had in Baum's books.
Some of the time line issues didn't make sense to me either, when did Jellia and the Sawhorse have time to visit Glinda in Land?

Overall though I really liked the book, minus the Nome King explanation which to me made absolutely no sense and was unneeded.