Book Review: A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire
Author Gregory Maguire set the stage for (pretty much) all his future work when he published Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. It can be hard maintaining that kind of celebrity, especially after such a popular book (turned musical). But, I think Maguire succeeds fairly well in the aftermath.
Maguire’s third installment to the Wicked Years series starts from the middle of Wicked, and continues as the character known as Brr, a small orphaned Lion, grows up and experiences the political upheaval that occurs in Oz. Brr, in the Wizard of Oz world, is the equivalent of the Cowardly Lion. The focus of the end of the story still lies on Elphaba and her lineage, but through other important characters like Brr, Yackle and Liir.
I enjoyed A Lion Among Men. It certainly wasn’t Wicked, but it was still a charming, neat fit to the world of Oz through Maguire’s eyes. Brr has a strange upbringing, and that is the most fascinating part of the story. I am a firm believer that every story revolves around the psychology of a person or group of people, and Maguire fully succeeds in exploring that psyche through political experiences, sudden encounters and intimate moments.
However, sometimes I felt the story was forced. I’ve noticed this can happen sometimes with authors who are trying to push out another novel to fulfill a contract, or just make money, or something along those lines. Maguire doesn’t feel like like that kind of writer to me, but I did think some of the story didn’t quite flow as nicely as the rest. I’m chalking it up to forcing the story, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s just personal preference, but I’m hoping the fourth installment flows a bit better, more like Wicked or Son of a Witch.
Despite the fault of flow, Maguire succeeds in bringing another fantastical Oz story to the table, and continuing to build the world he only started two novels previous. If the rest of his novels are as interesting and gritty as these works, It’s time for me to get the rest of his collection.
A review of A Lion Among Men by Lit Scribbles can be found here. Maguire’s Wicked Years novels, as well as the rest of his biblography, such as Mirror, Mirror and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, can be found at Barnes and Noble, in store and online, and Amazon.com.