Oh, wow, this took a long time. And I do apologize. I was right in my last review; Out of Oz was similar to Wicked and did take me careful reading and at least a page of notes. Plus, someone else had it checked out of my local library and I had to wait for it to be checked in again. Then I did a little background research after that.
I like Out of Oz; nearly everyone who isn’t dead in the previous books is in this book, plus a few new characters. We do have Nor and the Lion from Lion Among Men, as well as the Time Dragon and the Dwarf and of course, the Grimmerie. And anyone who claims it is “just a book” is out of their minds. The Grimmerie has more personality than some of the characters. Liir and Candle are part of the book, as well as Shell as the Emperor Apostle. And the Wicked Witch’s first friend, Glinda Upland, is now a political prisoner.
One character has also returned, one that I had not given much thought to in the previous three books, so I haven’t mentioned him. But General Cherrystone is present and accounted for in most of the first section of Out of Oz, when he places Glinda under house arrest and begins using her house and land to build boats. Mainland Oz is still trying to annex the Free State of Munchkinland when the book opens. Most of the opening is seen through Glinda, who is a widow and a lady. Her household staff is reduced to a few people; one of the few remaining is a young girl named Rain and the only reason that the reader knows that Rain is Liir’s daughter is because of the description on the inside flap. At this point in the story, Rain does not have green skin, although why is not known.
During Glinda’s house arrest, the Dwarf (Mr. Boss), Nor and the Lion end up on her property with the Time Dragon. Previous encounters with the great clock have proven that the Time Dragon works on its own magic. This time, it incites the soldiers staying on Glinda’s property in upper Munchkinland and delivering the Grimmerie to Glinda. Glinda is not happy about it; although its use becomes clear in the end of the first section. The book only shows one spell to Glinda, To Call Winter Upon Water. And General Cherrystone and his soldiers have built four boats to cross the Restwater Lake with and they bring with them six dragons. While the soldiers are attempting the invasion of Munchkinland, Glinda and Rain use the spell to freeze the mass in place. Five of the dragons die and the boats are destroyed. Although Cherrystone eventually makes it to the other side of the lake, the Munchkinlander Army holds into at a fort and the invasion into Munchkinland is stalled. Glinda returns the Grimmerie o the Dwarf and company and she also asks that they take Rain with them. The Lion and Nor agree, although Mr. Boss is less thrilled.
And now Rain begins of follow her grandmother’s childhood. The company is commanded south by the Grimmerie and south is Quadling country, where Elphaba and Nessarose spent their childhood with their missionary father. During the trek, Mr. Boss makes comments about the Time Dragon dying, although the clock does give a few more performances. One performance includes the last days of the Ozma Regent before the Wizard dropped in and shot him. And still, no one knows what happens to the infant Ozma Tippertarius. And during this trek, The Emperor Apostle has issued a decree that all magical items must be brought to the capital. Both sides of the Munchkinland War are still searching for the Grimmerie, although there are only a few who can read it.
The trek through Quadling country gifts Rain with a few things. Like her grandmother, she picks up a familiar, a strange creature that starts to follow her that she calls Tay. She also acquires (steals) a conch shell and listens to it, although it doesn’t seem to tell her anything. Soon after the group leaves Quadling country, they come to an outpost and there, we catch up with the second book. And that’s where Liir and Candle have been living for the past eight years.
Now, we learn more about Candle and Liir in this section. Liir saved Rain just after she had been born and shortly after that, he found a way to enchant her skin so that she wasn’t green and marked as descended from Elphaba. Eventually, he and Candle met up again and raised Rain for about two years. Then it became too dangerous for them to be part of greater Oz, so they asked Lady Glinda to take Rain in and take care of her.
I’m going to deviate a bit; for Out of Oz, it was somewhat beneficial to have seen the play. The friendship between Glinda and Elphaba was such an important part of the musical and that relationship comes into play twice in this story. Because Glinda takes care of Rain on the assumption that Rain is her friend’s granddaughter, even though she doesn’t have any proof. She even explains to Rain much later in the book about how she had accompanied Rain on childhood adventures, holding mittens and overseeing bathtime for the child. Also, there are parts when the lyrics from the song Wonderful are completely appropriate.
Back to the tale, not only are Liir, Candle and Rain attempting (and mostly failing) to be a family, but this is the first time Liir and Nor have met with the knowledge that they are siblings. Before, they were simply playmates, but now they know they are both the children of Fiyero and they both have years of sacrifice and sorrow behind them. Plus, Liir is still acknowledged by the Birds and they bring him two important bits of information: one, that Rain does have the ability to fly in her and two, that Dorothy Gale has returned to Oz. And after a short period of time, the group will spilt up once again, with the Lion and Mr. Boss going to Munchkinland and Liir and his family going elsewhere. Along the way, Mr. Boss is faced with his greatest loss: the Time Dragon falls into the Kellswater Lake and there is something wrong with that lake; it’s almost like acid.
Now, with the spilt, Maguire follows the Lion to the trial of Dorothy first. And we see that most of Munchkinland still treats Animals like second-class citizens but most Animals still live in the free state instead of the mainland Oz. And Dorothy is put on trial for the deaths of Nessarose and Elphaba Thropp, who were both part of the ruling family of Munchkinland. This is where Wonderful comes in, because on her last visit (when she was 10), Dorothy was hailed as a hero for killing the Witches. Now she is labeled a murderer for killing the Eminent Thropp and her sister, two of the people who might have been able to protect Munchkinland from the invading forces of Oz. The trial becomes just a show and the now sixteen-year-old Dorothy is the main attraction. Really, the woman now running Munchkinland, La Mombey, was using the trial to round up all of the Animals in the area and conscript them into service because the forces of Oz have begun to invade Munchkinland from other borders. However, Dorothy does escape with the help of the Lion and his companions and she becomes part of the merry crowd.
Meanwhile, Liir and family travel elsewhere and Nor takes Rain away, again. Rain goes where both of her aunts have been- the University of Shiz, although not the same college. She goes to St. Prowd’s, where she makes a friend in one of the servant girls and eventually finds a friend in a street urchin named Tip, who makes himself useful around the campus. And she discovers Tip is a runaway from La Mombey of Munchkinland. Eventually, several years pass while Rain is at school and she has no contact with her family during that time, but she does grow closer to Tip and when she finally runs away from the school and begins to head for Kiamo Ko, he goes with her.
However, through all of this, both Oz and Munchkinland are still looking for the Grimmerie and specifically, Liir because he is Elphaba’s son. And when Rain and Tip make it to Kiamo Ko, they find a funeral for Nor going on. There was a raid on the fortress and Liir was snatched up, as was the Grimmerie. Candle began to beg Nor to tell her where Rain was hidden, but Nor refused and eventually the constant begging drove Nor mad and she died. Then Candle packed up and began her own journey. Rain’s blood family is scattered again, but she does meet Nanny, who thinks that Rain is young Elphaba. And then everyone begins questioning what really happened to Elphaba? Technically, only Nanny knows and she is well on her way into and through senility. And Rain is made the unofficial leader, taking up the role of her grandmother and her father. She wanders up to the room where Dorothy and Elphaba met and in a dream, meets Elphaba’s familiars- the dogs, the crows and the bees who died the first time Dorothy came to Oz. When she wakes, she finds that Tip has gone to find out what happened to Liir.
We also find out what happened to Liir and who took him. During the journey he is tortured and kept in a weakened state. Eventually, he is given a potion that turns him into a Black Elephant (strange reversal of fates, since he worked to turn the Princess from a human to an Elephant in Son of a Witch) and taken to La Mombey. Kynot, the Eagle who flew with Liir, sees the transformation and the stillness of Liir’s body and thinks the man is dead and begins to fly to bring this news back to the family. In Munchkinland, Liir is presented to La Mombey and is reintroduced to Trism, his other lover. They want him to read the Grimmerie and help Munchkinland win. And they have been breeding Dragons again while the armies of Munchkinland strive to keep Oz out. But Liir refuses because he might be targeting Rain. And then, Tip returns.
Meanwhile, Rain decides to head for the Emerald City and seek an audience with the Emperor, her great uncle. She, Dorothy, Mr. Boss and the Lion begin their travels and come across the Ozmists, who still demand knowledge of the Ozma. Rain questions them, but they dismiss her questions. When the group makes it to the Emerald City, Dorothy and Rain are the ones who seek an audience with Shell to find out if he has taken Liir. Shell avoids the questions and tries to dismiss them, but then the Dragons attack. In the midst of the battle, Candle arrives with Kynot and the news of Liir’s ‘death.’ Eventually, the attack ceases and Munchkinland is the winner. La Mombey comes forward to treaty with Shell.
And that is where everything falls apart. The Lion demands that Liir’s remains be returned to his family. And La Mombey brings out the Elephant Liir and tries to return him to his natural form. Rain and Tip are also wandering around the proceedings, and they find each other and hiding in an alcove, make love. Afterwards, when Tip returns to La Mombey’s side, Mombey tries to use the Grimmerie to restore Liir’s human form and he resists. The spell she uses, To Call the Lost Forward, has many other consequences. Liir is human, but Rain’s skin is returned to its natural green color. The spell also reverses Mombey’s appearance to the old hag she used to be and even more significant is what it does to Tip, who isn’t a boy, but the Ozma Tippetarius, restored after all those years.
And this has a great deal of fallout; Rain no longer has the friend and lover she thought she did and neither do Liir and Candle. Liir and Candle begin to fight about his inaction during his stint as an Elephant, when he would not read the Grimmerie. Candle thinks he should have to try to save Rain, while he insists that he was trying to protect Rain. Eventually, they do separate. The Lion becomes an interim Ruler while Tip tries to regain her sense of the world; Dorothy is returned to her home, somehow. Glinda is made a prisoner and no one is quite sure what happened to Mombey. And Rain? Rain takes her grandmother’s broom and begins to fly far beyond the borders of Oz to Somewhere.
And it isn’t all a return to peace. People are still asking about what happened to Elphaba and no one is certain if Tip will ever take her place on the throne, while Rain flies into the distance. But what struck me most about Out of Oz is these places from our childhood were always happy and perfect. These were place untouched by war and conflict and Oz has been in conflict for three generations. How do you recover from that? Maybe Rain has the right idea, heading for Somewhere.