Welcome back! I hope you had a fabulous weekend. Once more we find ourselves in The Wicked Years. This is book three in that series. Today we will finish out the last two books and the series review!
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire
Synopsis From The Book
In the much-anticipated third volume of the Wicked Years, we return to Oz, seen now through the eyes of the Cowardly Lion.
While civil war looms in Oz, a tetchy oracle named Yackle prepares for death. Before her final hour, a figure known as Brrr – the Cowardly Lion – arrives searching for information about Elphaba Thropp, the Wicked Witch of the West.
Abandoned as a cub, his path from infancy is no Yellow Brick Road. In the wake of laws that oppress talking animals, he avoids a jail sentence by agreeing to serve as a lackey to the warmongering Emperor of Oz.
A Lion Among Men chronicles a battle of wits hastened by the Emerald City’s approaching armies. Can those tarnished by infamy escape their sobriquets to claim their own histories, to live honorably within their own skins before they’re skinned alive?
Gregory Maguire’s new novel is written with the sympathy and power that have made his books contemporary classics.
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
Book three and all I know about this one is that its about the Cowardly Lion. I know that this book takes place before and after Dorothy, similar to Wicked and I wonder if that means its going to have a similar break up like Wicked where each part is a different time with a time skip between parts. Who knows? Not me. I’m excited.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
I liked the second book more than this one in terms of plot, actually. Brrr’s story is an interesting one, but I really just did not care much. However! We do get Liir and the conclusion with the next book and this book was not bad. I’m happy it was as short as it was and we got more on Yackle.
The book alternates between Mother Yackle and Brrr. When we begin Mother Yackle is trying to die, to no avail and disappears for a year only not to die. Brr comes to Saint Glinda’s to talk to her about her connection to the Thropps and Madame Morrible. She asks for his backstory instead. Elsewhere war is brewing and Nor is traveling to escape.
Brrr as a child roamed the Great Giliikin Forest. It is in this forest that he finds Jemmsy, a hunter caught in his own trap. Instead of going to get help Brrr stays with the boy as he dies and then takes his medal for courage to give to the boy’s relatives. From here he meets a Bear cub and takes the cub back to his family. In order to get to the boy’s family he must travel through the Cloud Swamps and cross the Ozmists. He and the bea cub, who went with him, meet the Ozmists and flee.
Brrr finally makes it out of the wood to a town named Traum, where Brrr witnesses the murder of the Glikkun. Brrr tries to help by telling Glikkuns to play dead, but too late and they are killed. Brrr is celebrated by the people for his hand in the deaths, and Brrr leaves not wanting to stay. He goes to Shiz University.
Yackle tells her story about how when she was born she was born old and how she did know Elphaba.
Brrr continues his story with how he left Shiz when he found a poem mocking him. He leaves to a pride of Lions, where he leaves for they mock him after time. He then meets the Ivory Tigers and falls for Muhlama H’aekeem, but is caught having sex with her by her father and is exiled (under false pretenses of hurting her). By this point he is well known as the Cowardly Lion.
Here he meets Dorothy and goes on the adventure with her. Afterwards he gets his “courage” from the Wizard and promises to protect Liir, but Liir vanishes. Brrr ends up becoming a broker for Animals to get their money out of banks that they were locked out of. He is caught and called a collaborator for Munchkinland, and strikes a deal to work for the Emerald City government to find the Grimmerie (Elphaba’s magic book). This is what led him to Yackle.
They (Yackle and Brrr), at the interview, get news of the fighting and leave Saint Glindas to find Ilianora/Nora and the Clock of the Time Dragon. Here they learn Brrr’s origins (how his mother and father died and how he was separated from his brother), Yackle’s origins (she was brought from the Grimmerie old), and that there was an informant that sold out Fiyero and Elphaba. Yackle takes this informant, a shadow puppet, into the Grimmerie, and Brrr and Nora go searching for Liir.
What I Liked:
Mother Yackle; She’s such an interesting character, having shown up in books one and two. We get a lot more of her in this book and that is nice. Seeing her story and her life in respect to the events is interesting.
Brrr; I like this origin story for him. He’s another case of someone trying to do good but messing up a lot, or making the wrong choices. He gets labeled as a coward, luckily.
Ilianora; I really do love Nora. I was interested in her Clock of the Time Dragon story.
Politics Cont; We are going into war! How exciting! War in Oz, who would have thought? I also like how we got expanded politics, and expanded histories of the world
Writing Style; I did like this back and forth in the terms of memories. I have no idea why book two threw me off so much, because I like the way it was done here.
Opening; To begin the book we get a family tree list as well as a brief historical time line of the book. I didn’t need them, but it was nice to see them in there (as well as E+F=L being confirmed).
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
If we had gotten a bit more on Nora, that would have been nice too.
Time Taken To Read
“She was thinking of white paper and dark ink, and the difficulty and danger of scoring a page with lines of ink, to make it sing, if it could. If she could make it.” – pg 15
“And her appetite to write was countermanded by a dread of being read and recognized.” – pg 15
“History waits to be written, and this family has a part to play in it.” – pg105