The Emerald City of Oz (1910) – L. Frank Baum

 

It’s been a while, so I thought it was time to return to Oz, and check on Dorothy and the gang, in this, the sixth book, in the series. This was originally intended to be the last book in the series, and by the way it ends, with Dorothy’s message to Mr. Baum, it may in fact be the last time we hear from Dorothy.

There are a number of things in this book that I really liked. We get a bit of a look at the harsh economic reality that Uncle Henry and Aunt Em are living in as we learn that the mortgage is due on the farm, and that after all of these years, they’ll have to leave and live somewhere else.

Enter Princess Ozma, and Dorothy, who concoct the plan that perhaps, the entire Gale family, including Toto, should relocate to Oz once and for all. So they are all transported to the beautiful and amazing world, but both Henry and Em feel out of sorts after a brief time, wanting to feel like they are able to contribute to the society, and definitely not used to living in palaces.

While Ozma ponders over suitable jobs for Dorothy’s guardians, the Gales, along with the Wizard, and some familiar friends, set out for a tour of the lands of Oz, and come across new and old towns and peoples that fill out the world even more, and we get a very brief mention of the very socialist like economy that keeps Oz going.

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While all this is going on, the Nome King, Roquat, who is very much missing his magic belt, that gave him great powers, is devising a plan to tunnel under the Deadly Desert, and surface in the courtyard of the Emerald City palace, and kill, maim and enslave all of Oz in revenge until he gets his belt back. To help him his general enlists the aid of the most dangerous races, the Whimsies, the Growleywogs and the Phanfasms, all of who agree to help out, in exchange for slaves, riches and power, and the Phanfasms just because they don’t like the happiness of Oz.

The armies set out, and it looks as if we’re racing to a big conclusion as Dorothy and her fellow travelers learn of the impending trip, and head back to the Emerald City with the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Tik-Tok and Jack Pumpkinhead in tow.

But the undoing of the threat is revealed a chapter before it happens, and it feels like a bit of a McGuffin. Still, it expands the world of Oz, puts a number of threats to the world to rest, and gives Dorothy and her family a much deserved happy ending.

I’ll be curious to see where Baum takes us next…

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