A quick trip to Oz has been overdue, so I figured it was time to dig into book eight in the series, and check in with all those old friends, and new ones, to see what was happening in that faraway land.
Following in the quest stories which have been the hallmark of the series so far, this one does not stray very far from formula but does introduce us to some new characters. These new characters include Betsy Bobbin, and her mule, Hank, the only two survivors of a shipwreck, who find themselves washed up on the coast of a land not too far distant from Oz.
There they encounter Rose Royalty, a Queen with an army of seventeen (only one of whom is a soldier, the rest are officers), and they soon bump into the Shaggy Man, and Tik-Tok.
Now to be clear, despite Tik-Tok’s name in the title, this story is more about Shaggy Man. Betsy and the rest of the characters join up with Shaggy on his quest to find his long lost brother. It seems the evil Nome King has held him prisoner for a few years, and Shaggy is off to conquer the Nome King, and save his brother.
Along the way, they meet a dragon, a nice addition to Oz lore, and go about conquering and besting the Nome King as they are able. Shaggy and his brother, who is never fully named, but simply called the Ugly One are reunited, and to make sure that everything is tied up nicely by the book’s end, Princess Ozma of Oz, and the Wizard work a little magic.
In fact it seems that Ozma, Dorothy and the Wizard show up in the last couple of chapters to not only tie everything up, but to make contractual appearances. A number of characters we’ve previously been introduced to rear their head in the final moments of the book, just to show Betsy and Hank what a swell place to live Oz is.
Like the other books, there are huge lapses in logic, and just some odd behaviour for characters, but these aren’t really novels, they are stories, children’s’ stories at that, so maybe, for the time, they didn’t have to make a lot of sense, they simply had to entertain the young reader.
Still, they remain a quick and easy read, and it’s always interesting to see what sort of stories have endured, and what storytelling was.
Still not sure I would want to live there though… I did like the revelation about Toto, however.