Monday, May 25, 2009

A Lion Among Men


Abandoned as a cub, Brrr's earliest memories are only gluey hazes. But his path from infancy in the Great Gillikin Forest is no Yellow Brick Road. Seeking to redress an early mistake, he tumbles though a swamp of ghosts, becomes implicated in a massacre of trolls, and falls in love with a Cat princess. Sidestepping the laws that oppress talking Animals, Brrr cannily avoids a jail sentence by agreeing to serve as a lackey to the warmongering Emperor of Oz.A Lion Among Men traces a battle of wits between adversaries distracted by the armies approaching on either side of them. What does the Lion know of the whereabouts of the Witch's boy, Liir? What can Yackle reveal about the auguries of the Clock of the Time Dragon? Is destiny ever arbitrary? Can those tarnished by infamy escape their sobriquets-cowardly, wicked, brainless, criminally earnest-to claim their own histories, to live honorably within their own skins before they're skinned alive?

from bn.com

Beth says 4.5 Stars..
*A note - this book is for mature readers only*
Forget everything you think you know about Oz. Gregory Maguire continues to turn fairy tales on their heads with the third installment in his Ozian saga. This book is the untold story of the Cowardly Lion, who's more interesting than you'd think. I believe that reading the first two books is helpful because this book mentions a lot of things that happened in them, but it could be read as a stand alone. The Lion's story is complex and laced with the moral ambiguity that Maguire has perfected. The characters are all complex with realistic personalities, despite the fact that some of them are talking animals. The plot was moved gracefully forward by flashbacks, with current events interjecting occasionally. Despite the fact that this book was an amazing journey back to Oz, it fell short of the brilliance of Wicked. It was still fantastic, but it just didn't quite have the same spark of magic. However, this book is perfect for any fans of Maguire and Oz.

Nathan says 4.2 stars...
If you haven't read Gregory Maguire, you really pick up one of his books (I recommend Wicked). He is so gifted at taking a story almost universally known and transforming it into an original masterpiece. A Lion Among Men is the third book in the Wicked Years series, and it focuses on our friend the Cowardly Lion, or Sir Brr. Maguire follows Brr and another Wicked character, Yackle, through their respective lives and continues much of the story of the after-Witch Oz. What I love about Maguire's books is his writing, particularly his vocabulary. He uses words that are mind-blowingly amazing. However, some of his sentence structures can be bizarre and slightly confusing. He is also often totally inappropriate, which makes me incredibly happy. While I do love his style and wit, the story does tend to drag a little. I read about six books between the time I started and finished A Lion Among Men. This may just be me, but I could only take this book in short doses. None of his other books have been like that for me, but I suppose even the best writers must occasionally trip. The characters are all extraordinarily round. One of my favorite thing about his post-modern approach is that he removes labels like "good" or "bad." Every character simply is. Their motivations are thought out and human; the moral black and white of fairy tales removed. Maguire is a master of ambiguity, and I definitely recommend it for those with a taste for tall-tales post-modern style.

2 comments:

Melanie said...

I've never heard of this book, but the plot sounds really interesting! I'll have to look into the other books in this series.

Cassandra said...

I disagree. I did not like this or any other Macguire books actually. I found Wicked possibly one of the most boring reads. The first half was not so bad, but I barely made it through the second.

Maybe it was because I saw the musical first, but it just wasn't as astounding as I wanted it to be.

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