It’s been a while, so I figured I would get in a quick visit to Oz, as I visited the ninth book in the series, The Scarecrow of Oz. Written in 1915, this is apparently Baum’s favourite of the Oz novels he penned.
It also serves to introduce two of his previously created characters, the young girl Trot, and her friend, the wooden-legged sailor, Cap’n Bill. Both characters had travelled and had adventures in the two tales The Sea Fairies and Sky Island.
This time around, it’s a whirlpool that serves as a way into the magical land of Oz, where the unusual pair find themselves in a separated section of Quadling country known as Jinxland.
The territory is ruled by King Krewl who is a dastardly man, if you couldn’t tell by his name, and he is planning to marry Princess Gloria off to the nefarious, and rich Googly-Goo. Gloria, however, is in love with the Gardener’s Boy, Pon, and Krewl summons a one-eyed Wicked Witch, named Blinkie to freeze her heart, and stop her love for Pon.
Bill and Trot find themselves caught up in this palatial intrigue and love story, joined by a propeller-tailed animal called an Ork, and the young boy, and previous visitor to Oz, Button-Bright.
They are joined in their adventure by the Scarecrow, who is dispatched from Oz by Glinda the Good Witch, to aid the newcomers. Together, they must find a way to stop Krewl, as well as unfreeze Gloria’s heart so she realises that she loves Pon, and can assume the throne as Jinxland’s true ruler.
This story forgoes the usual road-story/travel quest that seems to populate the other Oz tales, and though the story is quickly told, revealed, and resolved, it’s a fun little read. The Scarecrow proves himself a solid character in this book, and while none of the characters are truly given any arcs or anything beyond the most easily definable characteristics, Scarecrow seems the most realised of all the parts in the book.
Of course, as the book draws to its happy conclusion, the story has to start name-dropping, and check-in with all the regulars who have appeared in the other stories. I never care for these sequences, I know they were added to please the younger readers who want to know how their other friends in Oz were doing, but I never needed them.
Still, much like Baum, I have to come down on the side of this being one of my favourites in the series, and I was quite delighted in how much I enjoyed this one.
There are five more in the original Baum series, so I will have to plan to return their again soon.