Ix in the Mix


Two of the closest neighbors to the Land of Oz, located just across the desert to the north, are the kingdoms of Ix and Noland. The former has a name modeled on that of Oz itself, as do Ev and Mo. It’s also the Roman numeral for nine, but that never comes up. Noland is a play on “no land,” and hence one of many fictional lands to be essentially named “this place doesn’t exist.” The two kingdoms are first introduced in L. Frank Baum’s Queen Zixi of Ix, a story with a more old-world kind of flavor than most of his fantasies. Like many other fictional countries introduced in Baum’s other books, these two were eventually tied into Oz. Noland is known for an odd law that, when the ruler dies without an heir, his or her successor will be the forty-seventh person through the gate of the capital city of Nole in the morning. In Queen Zixi, this ended up being a boy named Timothy, or Bud for short. He ruled with the help of his younger but in some ways wiser sister Margaret, or Fluff. The latter had been given a magic cloak that granted one wish per person, and ended up causing some strange events.

Separated from Noland by mountains, a river, and a forest is Ix, ruled by Queen Zixi herself. This monarch is a witch, and has been able to stay alive for centuries due to her magic.

While the Wizard of Oz once said she was thousands of years old, she was actually a mere 683 at the time of her book, and probably not too much older in The Road to Oz. While she remains youthful in appearance, if she looks at her own reflection in a mirror, she sees an old hag instead of what everyone else sees. When she heard of the magic cloak in Noland, she first sought to invade the country in order to get it, then resorted to stealing it. The cloak wouldn’t work if it were stolen, however, so this ended up being to no avail. When Noland was invaded by the Roly-Rogues, giant football-like creatures from the northern mountains of the country, Bud and Fluff sought help from Zixi. She admitted what she had done, and used her witchcraft to help drive out the Roly-Rogues. After that, Ix and Noland became close allies, and Road suggests that they’re both friendly with Oz as well.

Ix and Noland are presented as relatively mundane when compared to places like Oz and Mo, and even Ix’s other neighbor Ev. The latter, after all, has lunchbox and dinner pail trees, a princess who can change her head, and some talking animals. The only talking animal in Queen Zixi is Ruffles, the Lord High Steward’s dog, and Queen Lulea removed his power to speak when she counteracted the results of wishes she considered foolish.

She did, however, keep the treasurer’s purse always full, so let’s hope that didn’t lead to massive inflation. Zixi can talk to animals, but this is only because of her witchcraft.

The Roly-Rogues, however, indicate that some weird creatures do indeed inhabit these lands. In Silver Princess, the Box Wood, where boxes grow on trees, is located in Ix. Harry Mongold’s Sawhorse goes even further, giving Ix an underground garden and the incredibly odd Improbable Forest.

One interesting question regarding the royalty of Noland is how seriously we should take the look into the future at the end of Queen Zixi. We’re told, “The cheerfulness and sweet disposition of Princess Fluff became renowned throughout the world, and when she grew to womanhood, many brave and handsome princes from other countries came to Nole to sue for her heart and hand. One of these she married, and reigned as queen of a great nation in after years, winning quite as much love and respect from her people as his loyal subjects bestowed upon her famous brother, King Bud of Noland.” When Bud and Fluff reappear in Road, however, they’re still children. So is Chick the Cherub, whose adulthood is discussed at the end of John Dough and the Cherub. We don’t actually know when Queen Zixi took place, but Road and John Dough both presumably take place around when they were written, due to the scenes taking place in the United States. So how would Baum have known about Chick growing up when it hadn’t happened yet? Some apocryphal stories have Bud, Fluff, and Chick still being children years later.

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12 Responses to Ix in the Mix

  1. According to the usual chronology (and there are firm anchors for it), the body of the Harry Potter saga takes place 1991–1998, which means that the Epilogue won’t take place until 2017. There is also a much more complex question about the two epilogues to “Babylon 5” that I can’t describe without massive spoilers for both.

    • Nathan says:

      According to the usual chronology (and there are firm anchors for it), the body of the Harry Potter saga takes place 1991–1998

      Which means that Dudley had a PlayStation several months prior to its actual release. It could be argued that Baum, with his pretense of being a historian relating events he actually heard about from Oz, would have no way of knowing the future. Rowling, as far as I know, never made any such attempt to insert herself into the fantasy. On the other hand, Baum was inconsistent on this point anyway, and as far as I know only used it with Oz, not Queen Zixi or John Dough.

  2. Ix was always one of my favorite non-Oz countries and as a boy I made up all kinds of stories about it with Zixi on another quest to regain her “true youth” involving Golden Apples, a ghostly specter, banshees and more. One day I hope to write those stories down in a better form and publish them.

    • Nathan says:

      Something like the Apples of Idun from Norse mythology? One of Chris Dulabone’s books (A Million Miles from Here Is Oz, I think) had Zixi getting a little older but the mirror curse being broken, but I’m not sure what I think of that idea.

      • Yes, except I had switched in Hebe from Greek Mythology as the keeper of the apple tree. In my story the apples were linked to Oz’s eternal youth…but then I read Eric Shanower’s graphic novels as a young teen and was surprised at how similar Valyn’s character was to both Hebe’s and another character in my story, even more so because of the Enchanted Apples being nearly identical to the Golden Apples in my story…so I never finished the story for fear of being called a copycat (or even worse, a plagiarist.)
        Maybe one day I’ll ask Mr. Shanower if I can rework the story with Valyn instead of Hebe, I’m not sure how he feels about other authors using his characters though.

      • Nathan says:

        Well, between the Apples of Idun, the Apples of the Hesperides, and the forbidden fruit in Eden (not identified as an apple, but popularly regarded as one), apple trees are commonly associated with mythology and magic. As for Shanower’s characters in works not by him, there’s a VERY brief mention of Valynn (not by name) in Paradox, although Eric illustrated that and probably had some other input into it as well.

  3. Nathan, do you recall offhand, which later stories utilize these characters as children?

    • Nathan says:

      You know, the only one I can think of offhand is Jared Davis’ story that was later incorporated into The Royal Explorers of Oz. There might well be others, but I can’t recall them just now.

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