TITLE: A LION AMONG MEN
AUTHOR: GREGORY MAGUIRE
PUBLISHER: HEADLINE REVIEW
GENRE: ADULT FAIRY TALE
COVER TYPE: HARD BACK
BLURB FROM THE COVER
While civil war looms in Oz, an oracle named Yackle prepares for death. Before her final hour, the Cowardly Lion arrives, searching for information about the notorious witch. Yackle, who hovered on the side-lines of Elphaba’s life, demands some answers of her own.
Brrr surrenders his story: he was abandoned as a cub; his earliest memories are gluey hazes, and his path from infancy in the Great Gillikin Forest is now Yellow Brick Road. In the wake of laws that oppress talking animals, he avoids a jail sentence by agreeing to serve as a lackey for the warmongering Emperor of Oz.
THE OPENING LINE
The time came for her to die, and she would not die, so perhaps she might waste away, they thought, and she did waste, but not away; and the time came for her to receive final absolution, so they set candles upon her clavicle, but this she would not allow.
I enjoyed A Lion Among Men but didn’t feel the magic I did when I read Wicked, the first title in Maguire’s reimagining of Oz a few years ago. It seemed more lacklustre somehow. I thought it would be much better.
I am a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz. L Frank Baum’s novel was one of my favourites as a child. The musical film starring Judy Garland is one of my all-time favourite movies. I actually think the sequel Return to Oz is pretty great. A Lion Among Men is an extension of this well-known and well-loved tale.
I love it when authors re-imagine well known stories and fairy tales. This is Maguire’s bread and butter. He reimagined Sleeping Beauty with his novel Mirror, Mirror and Cinderella with Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. I love the concept behind A Lion Among Men and Maguire’s other novels in The Wicked Years.
I like Maguire’s version of The Cowardly Lion’s story. He makes him a much bigger character than Baum did in The Wizard of Oz. Brrr struggles with oppression from his birth. He was hailed as a hero for his alleged part in a war and enjoyed a life of luxury. His true cowardice was revealed and his nickname was born. He fought against hatred and oppression. I felt I could really sympathise with him.
I was impressed by Maguire’s characterisation. Brrr is a real repressed anti-hero. The only criticism I had is that he felt too human for a talking animal. At times I had a hard time remembering he was supposed to be a lion. I thought Yackle, the blind, crazy old oracle was brilliant and funny. Even the minor characters Brrr meets on his journey were very well drawn.
Maguire is an excellent writer. I’ve got copies of most of his novels including Wicked and the sequel Son of a Witch. Every word deserved to be there. I thought he did a great job of bringing the world of Oz and the weird and wonderful creatures to life.
I didn’t enjoy A Lion Among Men as much I thought I would. I read Wicked several years ago and Son of a Witch at least two years ago. My memories are hazy. A Lion Among Men makes reference to both these novels that were lost on me because I read them so long ago. I think A Lion Among Men would be more enjoyable if I read it directly following Wicked and Son of a Witch. I got a bit lost at times. I want to read the final novel, Out of Oz to get the fully story then read them all in sequence.