The Talking City of Oz, by Ron Baxley, Jr. – This book was originally written for the International Wizard of Oz Club’s centennial contest, and published by March Laumer. I read that version and wrote a brief review of it a few years back. The new edition contains most of the same plot elements, but lacks Laumer’s asides, and hence is probably more in Baxley’s own voice. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to have been proofread that well, and hence is sometimes rather sloppy. It’s a fun story, though, and includes a lot of puns and interesting new communities and characters. Baxley manages to write in his own style while remaining true to what we already know about Oz. The subplot about the Wizard of Oz getting married remains in the story, but there’s a little more explanation for it in this edition. The Wizard taking a spouse doesn’t strike me as being as out of place as, say, Ozma or Glinda getting hitched; but it’s still not something other writers are likely to adopt.
One interesting change from the first edition to the second is that Kaliko is no longer the main villain, with his place instead taken by a new Nome King named Jaggedo. The account given in the book is that Ruggedo created Jaggedo from a cavern wall, bringing him to life with some of his own blood. As such, it gives Jaggedo a somewhat scary quality that Ruggedo himself tends to lack.
I have to suspect Baxley was inspired by the portrayal of the Nome King in Return to Oz.
The implication given is that Ruggedo regarded Jaggedo as a younger brother. Interestingly, the old Nome King actually has brothers in some other fan-written Oz books. I haven’t read Acinad Goes to the Emerald City of Oz, a story written by elementary school students, but I have read its follow-up The Magic Diamond of Oz. Acinad, whose name is that of one of the students spelled backwards, is Ruggedo’s much nicer brother. He reappears in some works by Chris Dulabone and Marin Elizabeth Xiques, and in A Million Miles from Here Is Oz it is suggested that he was the original heir to the Nome throne. Another brother, Fumaro, is a villain in Allison McBain’s Cory in Oz.
As the tale begins, he’s taken over the Nome Kingdom and locked Kaliko in a dungeon, and after an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Oz is turned into water in one of Glinda’s fountains. And here I thought Glinda didn’t deal in transformations! Cory was actually a pretty good story, but that part kind of irked me. In Sherwood Smith’s Oz books, Ruggedo has a son named Rikiki, who temporarily claims the Nome throne in Trouble Under Oz but gives it up after some tricks from Kaliko. Trouble also introduces Rik’s cousins Tiki and Tavi, but doesn’t specify whether they’re on his father’s or mother’s side. And yes, in Smith’s books, there are female Nomes, but they usually remain out of view. We’re not told much about Rik’s mother, but it’s suggested that she’s even more dangerous and treacherous than her husband.
As far as other members of Ruggedo’s family go, sources are a bit contradictory on this. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus introduced a Gnome King (L. Frank Baum hadn’t yet decided to remove the G) with several children, and it’s possible that Roquat/Ruggedo could be either the Gnome King or one of the children. If the latter, then Acinad and Fumaro could potentially be two of the others. One potential issue with this is that Ruth Plumly Thompson claims in Pirates that Ruggedo is 1000 years old, which presumably wouldn’t make him old enough to have been around when Santa Claus was just getting started. Granted, no specific dates are given in Life and Adventures, but stories of St. Nicholas would have been around for more than a millennium by Thompson’s time. There’s no reason to assume Thompson’s figure is entirely accurate, but it’s the only figure for the Nome’s lifetime that we’re ever given. Onyx Madden’s Mysterious Chronicles identifies Roquat’s parents as Yetsan, Prince of the Ghorns; and Yenoh, Princess of the Thills. Apparently Ghorns are evil and Thills are good, but whether they’re supposed to be subsets of Nomes or what is not entirely clear. In Scott Dickerson’s Ruggedo, the Nome King gives his father’s name as Cavernonko.