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So, this was actually announced back in April, but it was announced so quietly that I missed it. That, and I was eyeballs-deep in a giant pile of thesis papers at the time. But you heard it here first (sort of): There will be another Wicked Years book, and it will be the last in the series.

The book apparently opens with Glinda under house arrest. Well that, at least, is good! I was wondering where Glinda was in “A Lion Among Men.” I hated that book. Maguire can do so much better. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, and I will definitely read the book whenever it comes out.

Son of a Witch Book Cover

Something Wicked This Way Comes. Let's hope it's wicked good.

Find out what I hope happens in the book, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

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Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays, dear readers! We here at Lit.Scribbles are off celebrating the spirit of Christmas, but cunningly wrote this post in advance and scheduled it to be published today. No matter what you celebrate – we’re of an interfaith family ourselves – we hope you’re having a lovely season.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the holidays without Gregory Maguire. In fact, it wouldn’t be a fairy tale blog without Gregory Maguire, now would it? NPR had Maguire write a new take on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic The Little Match Girl, which he calls Matchless.

Matchless by Gregory Maguire

Matchless: Heartbreak for the Holidays

First of all, Andersen’s original tale is about a little match girl who happily freezes to death while seeing visions of her grandmother in heaven. It’s heartbreaking:
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Well. I have just finished the book. And boy oh boy oh boy oh boy…it was quite a ride. Please note: this review is also being posted in the Book Review section.

Disclaimers and Warnings! This review contains spoilers! I will tell you the ending. But don’t worry. I’ll writing “WARNING: ENDING REVEALED” before I get there. This review also contains ADULT CONTENT in the form of really bad kitty-kitty sex descriptions. You stand warned.

My Review

It starts off very well, actually. Yackle is in the Mauntery of St. Glinda, getting ready to die. She is lain in a crypt, and tells the maunts to come back a year later to sweep up her bones. However, that old crone just won’t die and is still alive (though blind) after one year without food or water in a smelly old crypt.

Enter: the Cowardly Lion. Sir Brrr, actually. Working (as we will discover) as a secret service member of Emperor Shell’s Loyal Oz. Remember Shell? Elphaba’s brother. He’s the Emperor now. Sorta an absolutist despot.

Loyal Oz is on the brink of war with Munchkinland, which has seceded from the state. And the mauntery is right on the border between the two states. Brrr doesn’t have much time – but he has to collect Yackle’s history before returning to the Emerald City. He’s been charged with finding out the whereabouts of Liir, anything about Elphaba, but especially…the location of the Grimmerie. That magical text. Where is it? And how can Shell use it to his advantage?

Here’s where Maguire is at his best. Political intrigue has always been his forte. It would seem that (because of stuff I’ll talk about later) Brrr is out of favor in the Emerald City. And not being cut out for life in the wild, he has no choice but to try and rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the State, so that he can re-enter Ozian society. So this information means a lot to him.

But (and here’s where the story really starts) Yackle won’t give up any information to someone she can’t trust. So, she brokers a deal with Brrr: she’ll tell him her story if he tells her his. And so the tale begins….

A Lion among Men

A Lion among Men

So far, so good. Brrr tells us about his childhood. He meets his first friend, Jemmsy (a soldier) when Jemmsy is stuck in a trap, dying. Brrr decides against going for help, and instead to watch over the man as he dies. Then he decides to go off in search of Jemmsy’s hometown, to tell his father of the son’s death. This, he thinks, will be a very useful thing to do, and someone will finally love him and be his friend. The way this part of the story is told is quite touching: we end up feeling for the Lion, both because of his stupidity (in letting Jemmsy die) and because of his patheticness (in trying so hard to be loved).

Unfortunately, the rest of the story (and Brrr’s character) never really moves on from this characterization. Throughout the novel, we feel sorry for Brrr (because the guy really is pretty stupid) and a little annoyed too (he’s ridiculously pathetic as well). And Brrr never really evolves as a character.

Anyway, Brrr ends up being responsible for a massacre of Glikkus trolls in the town of Traum (he refuses to help them get away from their attackers, and chooses to literally play dead instead of taking action). He thus earns the sobriquet “the Cowardly Lion.” Then its off to the Emerald City, where he uses money that the city of Traum gave him (as a sort of pay-off for his role in the massacre, but being stupid, Brrr doesn’t see this) to set himself up as a kind of interior decorator.

So far, its all right. We’re still waiting for the story to start, but we’re entertained.

Then come the Animal Acts (remember those from Wicked?) and Brrr, like so many, is forced to leave civilization. He goes out into the wild and has several unremarkable encounters. That is, until the book gets really terrible.

I mean really terrible.
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Hear Ye, Hear Ye! 

A Lion Among Men was released today! And we’ll be bringing you our review tomorrow night. Because seriously peoples: I’m in the middle of midterms, and Brrr the Lion isn’t exactly number one on the list right now.

In the meantime, here are a few tidbits:

Amazon.Com’s page on “A Lion Among Men” has printed a letter from Gregory Maguire:

Tarnished with scandal of every stripe, Brrr is loathed by the Animals who believe he betrayed them in helping Dorothy do in the Witch. He fares no better trying to live as a lion among men. When civil war breaks out in Oz, Brrr is caught in the line of fire as he interviews the mysterious old oracle, Yackle, about the sources of Elphaba’s power. He must choose how much approval he can live without. A bit player all his life, he may yet be the linchpin on which the prosecution of the war rests.

…and so on and so forth.

Everyone seems obsessed with pointing out how the novel is not a fairy tale:

“But his story no cheery fairytale” – EDGE Boston

“A Lion Among Men is definitely not a child’s fairytale!” – The Savvy Reader

…and so on and so forth.

You can browse inside of the book. The first thing I noticed was the plethora of timelines, family trees, quotes, excerpts from Wicked…

…and so on and so forth.

Review goes up tomorrow night. Hold your breath…

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dwarfs and Elves….

Gregory Maguires anticipated (with glee, with dread, with cringe) new book “A Lion Among Men” has declared a release date: October 14th. And Lit.Scribbles will be there, blogging about it! Yep. Also we’ll bring you what will (hopefully) be the first post-release review you see about it. For we will read. Read at top-speed.

Incidentally, I was wondering: how many more books does Maguire want to write in this Wicked Years Series? (for that, folks, is what they are calling it) I have a hunch that he’ll keep going until Elphaba’s return. That’s what we’re all waiting for, isn’t it?

Yes I admit it…I like Gregory Maguire. I know. How boringly contemporary of me. But I’ll stick by him. I really loved Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.

Lately though, he’s been in a bit of a slump. Son of a Witch was pretty bad, mostly because it stayed in Oz, followed a character nobody liked from Wicked, and didn’t add anything new to Oz’s universe.

You think he would’ve learned.

A new book from the world of Oz will be hitting the stores soon: A Lion Among Men, which tells the story of the Cowardly Lion. Ah! Not again!

Gregory: stay true to your roots! Let’s have a retelling of Hansel and Gretel, or the Frog Prince! Go out in a blaze of revisionist glory! I mean, what’s next? “If I Only Had a Heart: The Saga of the Tin Man.” I can just seeing it being made into a Lifetime Original movie…

(end rant)

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