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"Out of Oz" brings satisfaction, critics say

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(Read caption) One reviewer says 'Out of Oz' 'meanders,' but another calls Gregory Maguire's new book 'hilarious and heart-wrenching.'

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Author Gregory Maguire forever changed the way the world viewed one of pop culture’s greatest villains with his book “Wicked.”

And now, millions of books and one Tony-winning musical later, Maguire’s "Oz" series finishes its romp through the fictive world created by L. Frank Baum in the original "Wizard of Oz" series, with a fourth and final book: “Out of Oz.”

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The novel, in which Dorothy – the girl in blue gingham – stands trial for the murders of the witches of the East and West, follows the story of Rain, the granddaughter  of the Wicked Witch of the West (aka, Elphaba). Rain is the daughter of Liir, the hero of Maguire’s sequel to “Wicked” titled “Son of a Witch.” Rain has been living at Glinda’s house as a servant when the book opens, but is soon forced to go on the run with a traveling minstrel show, the members of which include the Cowardly Lion.

Maguire’s new novel continues the dark and satirical take on Baum’s world. Washington Post writer Elizabeth Hand notes in a review of the book that “this is an Oz where torture, imprisonment and weapons of mass destruction come into play, even if the WMD are dragons.”

Reviews of the book so far have been mostly positive, with writers calling it a satisfying finale to Maguire’s series. “No summary could do justice to Maguire’s novel, which is hilarious, heart-wrenching and extremely poignant in its ending,” Hand writes in her review. “Readers familiar with Baum’s books will delight in how Maguire rings the changes upon them… the greatest fantasy series make one want to read them again. That’s what I intend to do with this one.”

Brian Truitt wrote for USA Today that the beginning of the novel was “overlong” and that the book “meanders at times,” but adds that “Maguire has expanded the mythology of Oz from L. Frank Baum's books and created a land that's just as rich as Middle-earth or Narnia, and balances the serious with the sublime... while it meanders at times, 'Out of Oz' is a satisfying finish to the ‘Wicked Years’ saga.”

And is it really the finish? Maguire told MediaBistro it was the final book in the series, and in his acknowledgements in the book, the author calls it the series conclusion. So it seems Maguire is done with the land of Oz – although fans may want to keep an eye on future announcements, just in case.

Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.

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