Warning: Possible spoilers for Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of the West or Son of a Witch.
A Lion Among Men and Out of Oz are the third and fourth book in The Wicked Years series by Gregory Maguire. Continuing the story of Oz after the death of Elphaba and the departure of Dorothy, in A Lion Among Men get to see the life of the Cowardly Lion through his telling to Yackle, an elderly maunt whose strange life is even more strangely connected with Elphaba’s. In Out of Oz we get to see what happened to all of our favourite characters, including Glinda, Liir, Candle, the Lion, and the keepers of the Clock. They’re books rich in history and details, and honestly it could have probably been trimmed down to one book if the author had really tried.
Everything I said in my Son of a Witch review applies with both of these books. The pacing still leaves quite a bit to be desired. The writing still has a strong wit and satirical value to it. There are even a few easter eggs for fans of the musical in Out of Oz, and this might be part of the reason if I were to compare the two I would prefer Oz to Lion. Honestly, if you wanted to, you could skip Lion completely. It’s more of a side story, and any references to it in Oz are explained enough that you don’t need to have read it.
On the more social justice, gender, sexuality, etc. equality side of things I’m pretty split. Maguire does a great job of providing multiple types of peoples and couples. We have our run of the mill heteronormative couples, but we also have some exploration of bisexuality with Liir, inter-racial relationships with the Lion, and a character who is transgendered (though we do not get to explore that character nearly enough). On the other hand, I find that some of his characters, especially his female characters, can verge on the flat side. And I remember once or twice wincing at the sexism Glinda was spouting off.
Satires are difficult for me to read. I can never really tell what is supposed to be a caricature and what is supposed to be commentary. For those who are better at figuring this out and enjoy the story of Oz, this series will be for you.
Don’t just take my word for it!
“Overall, I felt as if Maguire took a very long time to tell a not so long story.” – Alyssa @ Books Take You Places
“While heads and shoulders above A Lion Among Men, Out of Oz still proves that Wicked is unmatched, especially given its tepid strength as the epic conclusion to the series.” – The Literary Omnivore