Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book Review: A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire

A Lion Among Men is the third novel in Gregory Maguire's "Wicked Series". Reviews for the first two novels: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (the novel from which Broadway's Wicked is based) and Son of a Witch.

The Audible Publisher's Summary
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.

It took me a bit of time to get back to Gregory Maguire's Wicked series - actually it took the release of book four "Out of Oz: The Wicked Years" and that novel's subsequent appearance on the New York Times Bestseller list for me to pick the series back up. As noted in the publisher's summary this novel is written from the perspective of the Cowardly Lion (Brrr) and Yackle (as interviewed by Brrrrr).

My complaint with A Lion Among Men is that there really wasn't a plot. The writing was OK, the narration was fine - I just kept waiting for something-anything to happen. There was background information on Glinda and Leer. Obviously we learn more about Yackle (the creator of the ruby slippers, the oracle at the montery, she who gave Elphaba her broom, etc) and Mr Maguire set up the war of Munchkinlanders and the residents of Oz in a post-wizard era. Just about the best part of the novel was that many of the characters made reference to "the great and wonderful WOO" (wizard of oz and of course Teller's nickname).

A lot of this would be forgivable if the fourth book (the recently released 'Out of Oz: The Wicked Years') didn't spend the first 45 minutes or so catching the reader up on everything we learned in A Lion Among Men. I'm partially through Out of Oz and finding the plot points MUCH more entertaining - there is hope for the series to end as strongly as it began.

A Lion Among Men was written by Gregory Maguire and produced byHarper Audio, copyright 10/14/2008. A Lion Among Men was narrated by John McDonough and has a runtime of 12 hours 1 minute.

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