It Makes Me Wonder


Stairway to Oz, by Robin Hess – The author once again returns to the Nome Kingdom, an intended invasion of Oz, and transportation gates. It starts with a boy named Ryan Westerly visiting his parents in Colorado, who turn out to live in the house built by the Shaggy Man‘s brother, where there’s still a portal to the Nome Kingdom. Ryan and his grandparents end up in fairyland, where they help to thwart a takeover of Ix. This country, generally presented as more mundane than Oz but still with some magic, is here seen to have a lot of regional noblemen, which fits the European flavor of Queen Zixi of Ix. James E. Haff and Dick Martin’s map of Oz presents the Isle of Dork as off the coast of Ix, so I wonder if its Duke is a subject of Queen Zixi’s. Of course, he spends most of his time on the open sea, and we never see Godorkas’ original home in any books I know of. Another takeover occurs when two Nomes dethrone Kaliko (again) and use magic provided by Kadj the Conjurer to teleport to Oz. Kadj is a character mentioned in Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Pirates who’s integral to the plot, but doesn’t actually appear there. Also active in the story are Joe King, Ozwoz, an oracle, an animal opera company, and a Quadling boy who’s inherited magic from his ancestor. There’s a recurring theme of characters resolving disputes, as with the Tin Woodman in Oogaboo and the Scarecrow in Winkieburg. Hess adds quite a few new Ozian communities and characters, as well as reusing some from earlier books. The Scarecrow even pays a brief, unexpected visit to Swing City from Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz. This book gives the Tin Soldier’s full name as Johnny Good Fyter, while he’s called Feersum Fyter in Melody Grandy’s Forever, and the Tin Woodman gives him the name Abel in Robert Pattrick’s short story “The Tin Woodman and the Tin Soldier of Oz” because he’s forgotten his original one. Stairway includes appendices giving some of Hess’s views on Oz, and providing descriptions for the characters, places, and magic appearing in the story, very convenient for someone like me who likes to keep track of such things. I’m still not convinced that Oz is on a different planet, but I’m also not sure there is a good answer to the question of where Oz is.

This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Characters, Dick Martin, L. Frank Baum, Magic, Maps, Melody Grandy, Names, Oz, Oz Authors, Ruth Plumly Thompson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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